In an academic milieu fragmented into departments and specialized disciplines, the study of literature is one of the few remaining elements of the old liberal education that still offers students a point of view from which they can integrate the diversity of their own experience. Language is the mirror of the human mind and literature the record of its preoccupations—intellectual, aesthetic, psychological, political, social, historical, moral and religious.
The study of literature offers a schooling in human experience, and its primary use is for the development of those who study it. It is also, of course, good training for any field in which understanding of behavior is valued. The tools used, because they deal with language and the forms of expression, have applicability in any kind of work where precise and effective communication is important. English majors can develop these skills to a considerable degree while undergraduates and non-majors will find that taking even a few well-chosen courses beyond the Core requirement can widen their knowledge of literature and sharpen their linguistic abilities.
The English major at Boston College is designed to introduce students to a wide range of expression in the literary traditions of the past and present. It aims to help undergraduate students develop a strengthened ability to work critically and sensitively with texts in poetry and prose, to write with clarity and grace, and to articulate judgments about literature with an awareness of various critical approaches. English majors will become familiar with some of the major developments in the history of British and American literature and will have the opportunity to choose from an array of courses covering topics from the medieval period to contemporary cultural studies to a range of transnational literature written in English.
By the successful completion of the English major at Boston College, students will be able to demonstrate:
- an ability to write clear, coherent, organized, and stylistically correct papers;
- an ability to close-read, interpret, and analyze texts (including poetic texts);
- a knowledge of literary genres and appropriate use of critical terminology;
- a recognition of the historical specificity of literary works and/or other cultural products;
- an awareness that there are a variety of critical approaches to literary and cultural texts.
English Courses for Non-Majors
Though there is no English minor, students majoring in other subjects have always been welcome in English courses for the diversity of viewpoint and variety of knowledge they bring with them. From the students' point of view, English courses offer the enjoyment of reading good literature—insight into history, culture, and human character—and a chance to polish skills of reading and writing.