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Pre-1900 Literature Requirement

At least 15 credits in the English major (language & literature or creative writing) must be focused on Pre-1900 literature. These courses must be ENGL courses or cross-listed with ENGL; they cannot be literature courses taught by another department. These credits may overlap with other English major requirements (with the exception of ENGL 301/297 and 302).

How do I know if a course will count towards the Pre-1900 Literature Requirement?

By course title: There are several English courses where the title of the course clearly indicates whether or not the class will be focused on pre-1900 literature.

  • For example, "English Literature: Later Nineteenth Century" or "Colonial American Literature" will always fall into this category.

By using your knowledge of literary history: It's our hope that English majors will be able to recognize major authors and place them into historical contexts (or to learn how to do so as they progress through the major). Pre-majors and new majors may find Bartleby's, Wikipedia, and this literature timeline to be helpful resources.

  • For example, "Romantic Poetry I" and "Romantic Poetry II" are pre-1900 literature courses because the Romantic Period was from c. 1785 to 1830.

By reading course descriptions: ENGL special topics courses can also be focused on Pre-1900 Literature. Take a look at the instructor subtitles, course descriptions, and required texts. If the majority of the readings are from the 19th century or earlier, then the course can usually count towards the requirement. Contact Humanities Academic Services Center for confirmation. If the course meets the requirement, an adviser will post an exception to your Degree Audit (DARS report).

  • For example, in Spring Quarter 2010, ENGL 300, Reading Major Texts, was a special topics course that counted as Pre-1900 lit in that particular quarter, because the course focused on Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener." Whereas, in Autumn Quarter 2011, ENGL 300 students read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, and David Shields's Reality Hunger, none of which are Pre-1900 texts.

Is there a list of Pre-1900 courses on your website?

No. Why not?

  1. English majors should be developing an understanding of literary history;
  2. The English Department's course offerings are diverse and vary from quarter-to-quarter. It would be difficult to maintain an exhaustive list;
  3. If we provided a list, many students would take only the courses on that list without investigating other options, which could constitute a missed opportunity to take a great class.