English Department

English Department Learning Goals

Learning goals for the English Department:

Reading:  Students will learn to become attentive readers, skilled at close-reading texts and engaging relevant aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts.  

Writing:  Students will learn to produce writing characterized by self-reflection, risk-taking, critical analysis, and lucid communication.  

Self-Authorship: Students will develop a habit of disciplined curiosity in their intellectual life in and beyond the classroom and in connection to their vocational pursuits.  


Senior Thesis Objectives for the Literary Studies and Film and Media Studies Emphases (encapsulates goals for student learning in the major)

  1. The thesis essay will present an original, compelling argument. It must at once explicate the issue and appreciate its complexity. The thesis must also make a case for its own significance: Why does this matter? An audience unfamiliar with the text or the approach should still be able to follow the argument.
  2. The thesis will engage secondary and critical sources in substantive ways. Instead of dropping occasional supporting quotations, it should make those sources an integral part of the line of argumentation and inquiry. The sources should be discussed.
  3. The thesis will demonstrate command of its own methodology (including its limitations).
  4. The thesis will show familiarity with the other pertinent and important scholarship.
  5. The thesis will place its subject in a larger aesthetic, cultural, and/or historical context.
  6. The thesis will be well-organized, solidly and compellingly argued, and gracefully written, free of grammatical errors and stylistic gaffes.
  7. The thesis will demonstrate mastery the MLA style in terms of format, documentation, citation, and other matters.

Senior Thesis Objectives for the Creative Writing Emphasis (encapsulates goals for student learning in the major)

  1. The senior thesis will consist of a brief aesthetic statement and an extended creative manuscript of a single literary genre (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction).
  2. The aesthetic statement will place the creative manuscript in a larger aesthetic context, including literary influences and issues of form, craft, and genre. It will engage secondary sources in substantive ways, discussing the secondary sources listed in its bibliography.
  3. The thesis will be in Standard Manuscript Format, gracefully written, and free of grammatical errors and stylistic gaffes (unless errors are intended to produce specific effects).
  4. The creative manuscript will demonstrate engagement with the contextual and formal issues put forth in the aesthetic statement.
  5. The aesthetic statement will demonstrate mastery of MLA style in terms of format, documentation, citation, and other matters.