/ English Department

Honors Program

The Honors Program challenges majors to go beyond the minimum requirements by taking extra courses, developing an individual reading program and attending department colloquiums.

Another key objective of the program is developing the discipline of using a journal or a notecard system to keep track of one’s reading and one’s responses to what is read. This discipline is valuable for anyone in tracing intellectual and personal growth and in integrating the fragmented bits of knowledge one picks up in various courses; for the Honors Program student, it can also be a means of accountability and perhaps of review.

In addition to reading and journal-keeping, the Honors Program is intended to foster intellectual exchange among students. English majors really interested in the discipline should talk about literature and be involved in activities of the discipline, such as department colloquia and special events.

English majors should want to attend Opus readings and readings by visiting writers; they are in one sense what the discipline is really about: literature being performed, sometimes almost in the making. Honors students will be expected to attend such readings regularly. Participation in Opus staff and in meetings would also be valuable.

Early application, even in the freshman year, is encouraged. Upon applying, each student will be assigned a mentor (perhaps the student’s academic advisor) who will help him or her set goals to be attained in the Honors major and plan an individualized reading program, and will receive reports from the student on the texts he or she is reading.

Honors students (especially those considering graduate study in English) should achieve at least second-year proficiency in a foreign language and should take courses in philosophy and in American and English history.


  1. Achieve a 3.6 GPA in the major.
  2. Read 50 texts, selected by the student and his or her advisor, to be approved by the department. They should be texts not covered in that student’s courses. In the shorter forms, a group of poems, stories, or essays constitutes a “text.” Texts are to be distributed fairly evenly among four categories (poetry, fiction, drama, non- fiction) and among the historical periods of English and American literature, though a portion of the list may be devoted to other literatures in translation or to a particular author, genre, period or theme of special interest. Students are encouraged to use the list to fill in areas not covered by college course work as well as to read works recommended as further reading in courses they have taken.
  3. The emphasis in the program is on the reading itself; accountability for completing that reading, carefully and thoughtfully, will be achieved by keeping notes or a journal and/or doing an examination, written or oral, over the 50 texts.
  4. Enroll in either a seminar in English (English 495) or a senior thesis (English 490; English 454 or 455 may also be used).
  5. Attend Opus readings and readings by visiting writers, and participate in departmental colloquia.