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 15, 2023.

Honors Course, Fall 2023: Forms of Literary Critisism

Wednesdays 4:50-7:30pm

Professor Ezra Tawil

What is literary criticism? What does it mean to “criticize” or “analyze” a literary text, an author’s oeuvre, a tradition? This course models a deliberately broad range of answers to that question by looking at a diverse group of critical works, focused on different periods and genres within literary history, and representing various approaches to literary analysis. By reading a different work of criticism each week, we will be able to assess their comparative strengths and weaknesses, their potential for insight or their particular blind spots. But we will also be able to think about criticism itself as a form of writing, and to experience its unique powers and pleasures. Along the way we will read some undisputed classics of criticism from the past fifty years or so and some important or striking recent works (including perhaps some “future classics”). The course is organized into four units, each targeting a large theme: first, the question of genre in literary study (beginning with Northrop Frye’s classic statement, followed by recent examples focused on narrative and poetry respectively); second, the place of history in literary study, and several examples of what “historicist criticism” might look like; third, the figure of the poet or novelist as critic, and a few examples of critical works by authors more famous for practicing “literature” than literary criticism; finally, a brief look at the recent turn towards quantitative methods in literary study and the concept of “distant reading.”