Undergraduate English programs at Case Western Reserve are deliberately designed to allow a wide degree of student choice in creating a particular course of study. This flexibility is particularly evident at the 300 level of course offerings. Required courses buttress the major at the beginning and the end, but between them the student, in consultation with an advisor, selects courses that disclose a coherent, intellectually interesting program. To this end, students are encouraged to become reflective about their reasons for course selections, reasons such as challenging oneself in a new area, filling out a body of knowledge on a particular topic, investigating the history of an issue or mode of writing, or completing work taken in another department.

Course numbering and level

  • 100-level courses are designed primarily for first-year students and at the moment consist entirely of writing courses and tutorials aimed toward fulfilling the University writing requirement.
  • 200-level courses are considered to be introductions to various aspects of English studies, and they are usually meant also to serve as general education courses, i.e. ones that might usefully be taken by a student with no particular plans for further work in the area. The courses are open to and in many cases ideal for first-year students.
  • 300-level courses are the heart of the department’s undergraduate offerings, aimed particularly although by no means exclusively, at majors and minors.
  • Note that many of the courses with a 300-level number may be taken more than once, as the topics vary from year to year.
  • Note also that the department’s many “topics” courses can be taken more than once, when the current topic differs from what you may have previously taken.

A few 300-level courses are offered every year, notably the writing workshops in journalism, poetry and fiction; the foundational survey courses in British and American literature; and the Shakespeare courses. However, many others are scheduled only once every two to three years. Your faculty advisor can usually tell you the tentative schedule of courses two or three semesters ahead, and it is often important to seek out this information in planning your schedule.

Many 300-level courses in literature or film are cross-listed at the 400 (i.e. introductory graduate student) level. With the permission of the instructor, senior majors (especially those applying to graduate school in English, film or related subjects) may enroll at the 400-level, where additional readings, extra class meetings and more advanced writing assignments are usually assigned.

Planning your schedule: some models and guidelines

Some English majors (and also minors and CSE sequence students) pursue concentrations and thus have specific guidelines to follow. Students can, for example, pursue a concentration in film, focus on creative writing, or seek secondary school certification. For others, however, there are far more potentially useful or relevant courses available than any one student could take, and there are far more differences among students’ interests and plans.

The groups with the fewest external restrictions and guidelines are those seeking a broad liberal arts background, especially those expecting to enter the workforce after getting the B.A. or those heading for postgraduate study in such fields as law, medicine, journalism, business, and so on. Students expecting to go to graduate school in English or directly related fields have somewhat more directed guidelines.

Students interested in film

Follow this link to learn more about film studies at Case.

Guidelines for creative writing

Creative writing students usually begin with the 200-level creative writing courses and then enroll for two or more semesters in one or the other of the primary writing workshops (ENGL 303 and 304, each of which can be taken more than once). For the most advanced students ENGL 406 (Advanced Creative Writing) is available in alternate years.

Depending upon their other interests, writing students are also encouraged to take courses in which they read widely in literary history, including contemporary literature, and to study the literature of some language other than English.

Ambitious creative writing students who are interested in completing their Capstone Requirement in creative writing should sign up for an appropriate English creative writing capstone course (this will often entail a collection of poems or stories or a part of a novel).

Guidelines for students in a general liberal arts program

Most liberal arts students should select courses that will best help them become more sophisticated writers (especially but not exclusively of analytical and discursive prose), sharpen their abilities as readers (especially readers capable of analyzing texts in multiple ways and from different perspectives), and understand in some depth at least one earlier time in cultural history. Reading knowledge of another language is highly desirable, as is the ability to speak and write it. Students primarily interested in the humanities and arts should keep in mind the advantage of studying related topics in different disciplines. Courses in art history, classics, history, modern languages, philosophy, religion and theater can often be especially valuable.

Guidelines for prospective graduate students of English

Students thinking of graduate school should normally take 36 or 39 hours of English, rather than the minimum of 30, and they should ideally also plan to take substantial coursework in related fields, classics and modern languages and theater especially and also art history, history, philosophy, and religion. In particular, they should strive, by the time of graduation, to attain fluency in a foreign language, especially a modern European language, and some acquaintance with its literature. GRE examinations in English literature typically ask some questions about classics of European literature, which the student is expected to be familiar with in translation. Within the English Department, students should normally be sure to take a course in literary theory and criticism  (ENGL 387, normally), at least one Shakespeare course and one from another major authors category, several courses that encourage them to learn the methods of literary research and scholarship, and one or ideally two courses in each of the broad historical periods before the 20th century (early modern English literature, 18th and 19th century English literature, and American literature of the 19th century and earlier).

Most of these suggestions are built into the structure of the honors program, which most students interested in graduate school should consider.

Updated June 15, 2017