Academics: Majors and Programs

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Spelman College Graduates with President Beverly Daniel Tatum

English Major Requirements

A major in English provides a foundation in humanistic knowledge important to students planning to study in areas such as business, law, communications and education. Departmental offerings provide a background of knowledge and understanding necessary for students intending to pursue graduate study in English language and literature. Moreover, English majors, by electing prescribed courses in English and the department of education, may qualify for teaching at the elementary or secondary level.

Spelman English majors explore their own identity through the contexts and perspectives of writers who may be separated from them by centuries or continents or who may be as close as the respected writers on our own faculty. Above all, students learn with the help of the Spelman English department, that language is power and that sisterhood depends on communication.

Major Requirements

The English major consists of 11 courses or 44 hours. Two entry-level courses are required:

  • English 280. Introduction to Literary Studies
  • English 285. Advanced Exposition

The remaining nine courses in the major are offered in the following three categories:

Category I. African American and U.S. Literature


In this category two courses are required.

English 375. Seminal Writers in the African American Tradition (This course is required for all students).

The second course must be selected from the US literature category, either surveys or seminars.

Category II. British Literature. In this category two courses are required.

English 310. Shakespeare (This course is required for all students)

The second course must be selected from the remaining British category, either surveys or seminars.

Category III. Gender Studies, Critical Theory, and International Literature

Two courses in this category are required, either surveys or seminars.

The 44 hours of the major may be completed through major electives which complete the following distributional requirements:

  • A student must complete at least three major electives
  • She must complete at least two seminar courses in her 44 hours
  • She must satisfy a requirement in chronological periods: one course covering the period before 1800; one course in the period between 1800 and 1900; and one course in the period after 1900. Shakespeare may not be used to satisfy the early period requirement