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From Phillis Wheatley and Alice Walker to Ava DuVernay and Beyoncé, women of African descent are central to our story. The English major at Spelman College offers comprehensive training in Anglophone literary, visual, and rhetorical traditions with a special emphasis on Black women’s contributions to global histories of cultural expression.

Students are taught by innovative faculty whose internationally-recognized expertise in areas such as creative writing, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, and film and media studies drives the conversation—and the discipline—in the spirit of social transformation that is the cornerstone of a Spelman education. A small professor-to- student ratio means that each student’s unique goals and interests are recognized and nurtured. The highly individualized nature of our program underscores our fundamental belief in the power of free-thinking women.


Major Requirements: Class of 2018 and Beyond

Class of 2018 and Beyond

The English major consists of at least 11 four-credit courses and two one-credit workshops. Two entry-level courses and one workshop are required to begin the major.
  • *ENG 200: Sophomore Workshop (This is a two-semester course)
  • *ENG 280: Introduction to Literary Studies
  • *ENG 285: Introduction to Critical Studies in English
Five Foundation Courses at the 300-Level

Two of the courses are required and of the remaining three, two of them must cover the time periods before 1900.
  • *ENG 310: Shakespeare (May not be used to satisfy the period requirement.)
  • *ENG 375: Seminal Writers in the African American Tradition
  • One course in Global and/or Interdisciplinary Studies
  • One course in U.S. Literature
  • One other course in British Literature

*Required Courses

Download English Requirements

Major Requirements: Up to Class 2017

The English major consists of 11 courses or 44 hours.

Two entry-level courses are required.  
  • * ENG 280: Introduction to Literary Studies
  • * ENG 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 (2 courses)
  • * ENG 375: Seminal Writers in the African American Tradition (This course is required for all students).
  • The second course must be selected from the U.S. literature category, either surveys or seminars.
Category II. British Literature (2 courses)
  • * ENG 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 (2 courses)

English Major Electives (3 courses)

300 or 400 level literature courses. Do not select courses in the Writing Minor. Consult your major adviser if necessary. The 44 hours of the major may be completed through major electives which complete the following distributional requirements:
  • Complete at least three major electives
  • Complete at least two seminar courses in the 44 hours
  • 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
* Required Courses

Plan of Deep Study

By Jan. 31 of the English major’s junior year, a plan of Deep Study must be submitted to the adviser and the chair of the English Department. The student may choose an area of deep study in Textual or Writing Studies. One of the courses taken to fulfill the plan must be designated as the capstone seminar. At least one of the areas of Deep Study courses should be at the 400-level and taken prior to or concurrent with the capstone seminar.

Area of Deep Study (4-5 more courses)
  • Textual Studies (Literature, Film and Visual Culture, Cultural Studies)
  • Writing Studies (Creative, Professional, Technical)
  • CAPSTONE SEMINAR COURSE: ENG 400: Senior Workshop (one-semester course). The final workshop course is offered only in the fall semester

English Minor

The minor in English consists of 20 hours in the following categories of course

  • English 280 – Introduction to Literary Studies | 4 hours
    (A prerequisite to upper-level l courses)
  • English 285 – Introduction to Critical Studies  | 4 hours
  • Elective Courses | 12 hours

After completing the two baseline courses, students take three 300 or 400-level courses in their chosen subject area. As is true for students in the English major, the English minor students need to submit a “personalized plan of deep study,” including a rationale explaining the coherence and focus behind their concentration within the minor.

Why Study English?
Why Study English at Spelman?
Ok, but do English Majors get Jobs?

As Audre Lorde reminds us, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Reading and writing are not leisurely amusements or passive retreats from reality; they are integral to building and maintaining a free and equal society.

Through a varied and rigorous curriculum that examines English-language cultural expression in all its forms written, oral, visual, performative students learn to think critically about the ideas and thought systems that have shaped our world. Reading the past enables our students to contextualize the social, technological and political developments that influence our present, while understanding complex forms of expression, from novels to digital media, enables our students to, quite literally, write the future.

Whether they are conducting original research in Spelman's rich archives (which include the personal papers of Audre Lorde and Toni Cade Bambara), presenting original works at one of Atlanta's many literary festivals and societies, or applying their training in the nuances of the English language to internships in advertising, journalism, or law, Spelman English majors are united in one truth: that language is liberation, and that words can and do change the world.

At Spelman, students have the opportunity to create a course of study that is as unique as they are. After acquiring a broad foundation in the discipline, each student, in consultation with faculty, determines where she will take her English major.

Students choose between two tracks: Writing Studies, which focuses on compositional practice in creative and/or professional applications; and Literary Textual Studies, which emphasizes critical interpretation and analysis of expressive forms (including, but not limited to, traditional written forms, film, media, and/or performance). Within these tracks, students further self-design their own plans of “deep study.”


Even in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn, our majors have gone on to top graduate and professional schools, and have built successful careers in areas such as arts administration, communications, politics, journalism, public health, technology, business, law and education.

In a world where information is readily available and always evolving, Spelman English students graduate with skills that allow them to move it, and themselves, forward. Through a broad and rigorous course of study that requires considerable independent thought, research and planning, our graduates develop the skills in critical thinking, writing, synthesis, problem solving, creativity, empathy and interpersonal communication that are essential to staying competitive in today’s job market.

As study after study consistently demonstrates, the skillsets that students develop by studying the humanities are highly sought after by employers in largest growth in hiring and pay in the last three decades.

Since 2015, the outlook for English majors —as compared to other liberal arts majors, as well as those who studied fields like business and computer science—has been particularly good, both in terms of job opportunities and salary.

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