English Literature Courses and Classes Overview
Courses and classes in English literature are part of undergraduate or graduate degree programs in the same subject. These courses prepare students for advanced study at the graduate level, as well as careers in fields like teaching, law or librarianship. English literature degree programs typically include broad surveys of literature across genres, nationalities or eras, examining commonalities and differences among works and authors.
Introduction to Literature
In this required class, students get an overview of literature in general, what it is and why it is important for study. Coursework includes reading texts and learning to place them in context. Development of interpretation and analytical skills appropriate to novels, short stories, drama, poetry and essays is also practiced.
Students in English literature programs are usually required to take a course in British literature. This course covers influential British works and writers from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Students learn the broad characteristics of different literary styles and read, analyze and interpret works in historical and contemporary contexts. Authors studied may include Chaucer, Marlowe, Blake, Milton, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Browning, Wilde and Joyce.
In this class, students typically look at structure and themes in the works of American writers from pre-colonial times to the present. Students read the works of major writers like Wheatley, Melville, Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner and Morrison. Literary analysis may be based on contexts like gender, geography, race and sexuality. This is typically a required course.
Students explore major works of literature, usually European, penned between the 8th century and the 14th century, in this elective class. Coursework focuses on common themes, genres and writing styles. Students study primary texts like Beowulf and writers like Chaucer and Dante.
A broad survey of the plays and poems of William Shakespeare may be offered as a required or an elective class, depending on the degree program. Students analyze Shakespeare's poetry, as well as his tragedies, comedies and histories. They look at influences on his work and his influence on other writers and on English literature as a whole.
Works of major importance from writers of note from various countries and numerous eras, often in translation, make up the coursework of world literature classes. Students learn relevant literary theories and literary criticism. They also discuss themes and genres. World literature classes are often required.
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