Mission: The English Department at Keene State College encourages students to develop sophisticated ways of understanding, creating, and responding to texts.
Description: Students majoring in English study the historical development of literary and rhetorical traditions, of literatures written in English, as well as world and European literatures in English translation. The department stresses critical thinking, the analysis of texts, clear and effective writing, aesthetic appreciation, and theoretical sophistication. We value small class sizes and personal contact between faculty and students. English majors and minors can expect to work closely with their academic advisors to plan a course of study, and faculty work as mentors, guiding students to consider such opportunities as a semester of study abroad. In addition to fostering a lifelong appreciation of literature and language, a degree in English provides a range of personal and professional opportunities. Surveys of employers consistently stress the value of the skills we teach: the ability to communicate effectively with others, to think critically and creatively, to read carefully, and to write with clarity and purpose. KSC English majors have gone on to graduate and professional schools; they are working in the field of teaching; they work as writers; and they are employed in publishing, journalism, business, public relations, library science, and many other fields.
Program of Study: The English major at Keene State College is organized around six core courses: English 215 & 315 (the introductory sequence), a pre-1800 course, a Differing Cultural Perspectives course and an advance sequence, English 395 &495. Students who choose the literature option complete English 395 &495. Students who choose the writing option complete English 402 (Theory and Practice) and English 405 (Writing Portfolio). The department also offers a range of electives for majors.
The Introductory Sequence: English 215 focuses on developing interpretive skills, critical awareness and confidence in preparation for more advanced work in English and the humanities. The course introduces students to methods of criticism as well as theories of textual study. The second course in the introductory sequence, English 315, offers English majors a sense of how, when, and why literary genres change over time. These two courses emphasize close reading, resourceful writing, and developing a more sophisticated awareness of historical, cultural and intellectual context.
Pre-1800 Courses: Pre-1800 courses investigate literary traditions and cultural contexts that are significantly different from contemporary contexts. Students learn the appropriate interpretive tools and assumptions for approaching pre-1800 texts as well as examine continuities and connections existing between past and later traditions.
Differing cultural Perspectives Courses: Differing Cultural Perspectives (DCP) courses investigate discursive traditions that have been historically marginalized and examine the ways in which these traditions serve as tools for cultural survival and resistance. DCP courses recognize the significance and integrity of those literary and expressive traditions produced by cultures whose collective humanity and aesthetic identity have been historically devalued, denied, or dismissed by academic and literary discourse as well as by legal and social practice.
The Advanced Sequence: Students in the literature option enroll in English 395, a course that focuses on a particular aspect of the field of English studies through primary and secondary texts, as well as historical and cultural contexts, and then complete English 495, a course that builds upon the student’s knowledge of the primary texts and involves students in theoretical and critical discussions in the field through writing that incorporates advanced theory.
Students in the writing option complete English 405, a course that examines literary genres through readings in both theory and the genre under discussion and through writing original work in the genre as well as critical and interpretive essays. In English 405, students compile a portfolio under the direction of an English faculty member.
Electives: The English department faculty offer a range of courses in the college’s liberal arts curriculum. Every semester, including in the summer sessions, our faculty offer a wide range of courses in writing and literature. In these courses majors and non-majors have the opportunity to study classical literature, medieval and Renaissance literature, American and British literature, American Indian literature, Russian literature, and Caribbean writers. In addition, English faculty members offer courses in interdisciplinary programs such as Women’s Studies, American Studies, Environmental Studies, and Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Whether you are working on an English major or minor, or looking for an interesting integrative studies elective in language, literature and culture, the English faculty invite you to join us!