University News

English department shifts requirements

The department is replacing specific class requirements with classes in focus areas

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 25, 2013

In an effort to increase accessibility, the English department has widened its concentration requirements, no longer requiring specific classes.

Introductory courses English courses ENGL 0210, ENGL 0410 and ENGL 0610 — renamed ENGL 0300, ENGL 0500 and ENGL 0700, respectively — will no longer be required for English concentrators starting this fall, said Department Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of English Stephen Foley ’74 P’04 P’07.

Current English concentrators will also be excluded from the requirement.

Forcing concentrators to take specific classes “created a bottleneck in enrollment, so we were faced with an impossible task of students not being able to get into classes that were required,” Foley said.

The three limited-enrollment courses were established as requirements for the English concentration in 2011.

Students now have to take 10 courses at the level of 0300 or above, with at least two courses each in the three focus areas of “Medieval and Early Modern Literatures,” “Enlightenment and the Rise of National Literatures” and “Modern and Contemporary Literatures.” Previously, concentrators had to make one of each focus area course an introductory class, with 0210 matching the first focus area, 0410 matching the second and 0610 matching the third.

The change is meant to address structural problems rather than indicate a shift in curricular philosophy, Foley said.

This change allows juniors and seniors to take 1000-level courses to meet their focus area requirements, opening up gateway courses to freshmen and sophomores, said Thomas Doeppner, associate research professor and vice chair of computer science and vice chair of the College Curriculum Council.

The revisions to the concentration are “in the spirit of the Open Curriculum,” said Anna Martin ’16. The change “opens up avenues for people who aren’t English concentrators and (are) trying to sample courses,” she added.

Emily Fu ’15, who is double concentrating in neuroscience and English, said she originally declared English because it would make it easier to get into classes closed to non-concentrators. Only after declaring did she realize she wanted to pursue the subject further.

“It has always bothered me that they close a lot of English courses to non-concentrators, and I don’t think that’s very fair,” Fu said.

Increasing course enrollment was not an option, because there was not adequate teaching assistant support, Doeppner said.

The English department will still offer and encourage students to take ENGL 0300, ENGL 0500, and ENGL 0700, Chair of the Department and Professor of English Philip Gould wrote in an email that was sent to English concentrators on April 23.

“Those courses … still have the same function for being gateway courses and have a lot of depth within those three areas, but they’re no longer required to fulfill the concentration,” Foley said.

Both introductory and advanced level courses will be offered in each of the three areas.

“The current proposal seemed to be that (the department) would still like everybody to take these gateway courses but will also let people take 1000-level courses in place of the gateways,” Doeppner said.

Having more general requirements will “make certain that juniors and seniors who are concentrators … aren’t going to be clogging things up for first and second years,” Doeppner said. “We’ll have to see how things work out.”


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