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Undergraduate Program

Honors Program

The department’s honors program gives our seniors the opportunity to conduct intense and independent work in English literature and language. The program begins in the fall semester with an Honors Seminar, in which all honors students are required to enroll.

In the spring semester, each student completes an honors thesis, an extended paper on a topic of their own choosing. students work on the thesis in consultation with a faculty advisor. This is an excellent opportunity to pursue in-depth, independent research on a topic that has always interested you. Students who are in the creative writing track of the English major can choose to do either an extended scholarly or critical thesis or a thesis that consists of a collection of poems or short stories, or a more extended piece of fiction, creative non-fiction, or dramatic writing.

While the fall seminar is intended to prepare and focus students for the in-depth work of writing an honors thesis, the possible topics for theses need in no way be bound to the seminar topic.

All junior English majors are invited to apply by March 22, 2021.

Honors Course, Fall 2021: Utopian and Dystopian Writing
ENGL 396 - Rosemary Kegl

In this seminar we discuss the literary qualities and social impulses that characterize utopian and dystopian writing. We focus on utopian and dystopian worlds imagined in British and American prose fiction from the sixteenth through the twenty-first century. We consider, among other topics, how this writing draws on journalism, naturalism, realism, romance, satire, science fiction, scientific and political treatises, and travel narratives. We read short stories and longer fiction (in entirety and in excerpt). Our authors include Thomas More, Francis Godwin, Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Butler, Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Mary Shelley, William Dean Howells, H. G. Wells, E.M. Forster, Richard Wright, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Nnedi Okorafor. We also consider the structure and persuasiveness of a handful of works of literary criticism. The course emphasizes skills in interpretation, analysis, writing, and research that will be crucial as students eventually design and complete their honors theses. Course assignments are divided between those focused utopian and dystopian writing (with options to focus on works beyond those on our syllabus) and those that prepare students more directly for work on their honors theses the following semester. This course fulfills both the pre-1800 and the post-1800 requirement in the English major.