In response to criticisms claiming that the University’s English concentration lacked direction, department officials have announced that 13 new “areas of specialization” will be offered this fall.
Come September, students will be able to more easily find English courses that fit their interests in topics based on time periods like medieval or nineteenth century literature and geographic areas like American or world literature.
Though the option won’t require English concentrators to choose these courses, advisers will strongly recommend that students consider a specific area of study.
Scotti Parrish, director of the undergraduate English program, said many English concentrators had told department officials over the years that the program lacked focus.
“They felt like they weren’t coming out an expert of anything,” Parrish said. “We thought we could create a map for them.”
Currently, English concentrators only have the option of specializing in the Honors program or in creative writing as sub-concentrations. The new program will not offer any new sub-concentrations.
The new system will divide course offerings into three major areas of study: cultural and geographical frameworks, historical literature and analytical frameworks.
Parrish said dividing the courses into specializations would also make it easier for students to pick their classes and for administrators to ensure that a variety of classes in each area are offered each term.
LSA senior Lorena Disha, fundraising chair of the Undergraduate English Association, said she is excited about the new changes and is sorry that she won’t be around to enjoy their benefits.
“I’m a little bummed that they brought it out after I left,” said Disha, who plans to graduate in April.
Disha said she thought the new system would benefit English majors because, unlike creative writing or Honors students, who are required to submit a thesis or portfolio, students in the general program are more likely to enroll in courses with a less-specific focus.
LSA junior Keith Ingersoll, an English major, said that he was concerned the new system might curtail the freedom he enjoys when choosing classes.
“I guess I’m a fan of more broad than more specialized because it’s important to get a little bit of everything,” he said.
English Prof. Keith Taylor, the director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, said students like Ingersoll shouldn’t worry.
“It’s my sense that people are still going to be able to shop around,” Taylor said, “No one’s going to be confined to those things.”
Parrish said the new system would change several English department course numbers, including the two prerequisite courses – “What is Literature?” and “Introduction to Poetry” – from 239 and 240 to 297 and 298 to better reflect the difficulties and topics of the classes. The course number changes were implemented to indicate that those courses are for prospective English majors who intend to take 300 and 400 level courses.
The department will also expand the New Traditions requirement, which previously focused on the experiences of women and minority ethnic groups, to include classes that discuss disability and sexuality issues.