English Literature (B.A.)

English Literature (B.A.)

English literature students in group discussion

What is English literature?

English literature is the study of literature written in the English language. In this degree program, you’ll become a skilled reader and interpreter of literary works, films, media creations and cultural phenomena. Understanding literature is multidimensional, and includes the consideration of the artistic, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts that inform imaginative creations. The literature major is especially well suited for students interested in graduate studies in English or law school, but it is also an excellent program for those who want to develop an in-depth knowledge of literature in English in all its formal, historical, cultural and theoretical dimensions.

Why study English literature at UNH?

Our small class sizes allow you to work closely with faculty while exploring English literature in depth. We also offer a variety of special programs, including opportunities abroad studying literature at Cambridge University and travel writing in London. In our Writers and Speakers Series, you’ll hear published writers and prominent literary scholars from around the country talk about their work.

Potential careers

  • Business executive
  • Critic
  • Editor
  • Government consultant
  • Lawyer
  • Professor
  • Publisher
  • Writer

Contact

Connect with us

This form is only for prospective students who are not already enrolled at UNH. If you are a current UNH student and interested in this program, please reach out to the contact on this page.


  • English Literature Major
    Hometown: Hopkinton, NH What made you choose UNH? I knew I didn’t want to go to a private university. On top of that, UNH is relatively close to home, has a beautiful campus and is way bigger than my high school — I had a graduating class of around 60 — which has been a nice change. How did you...
    English Literature Major
    Hometown: Hopkinton, NH What made you choose UNH? I knew I didn’t want to go to a private university. On top of that, UNH is relatively close to home, has a beautiful campus and is way bigger than my high school — I had a graduating class of around 60 — which has been a nice change. How did you...
  • English Literature Major and Master of Liberal Studies | Professor
    As an undergrad, I chose literature as my major. I chose it because I love literature. At the time, people didn't think too highly of literature majors. In the workplace today, our critical thinking skills are highly valued. The classes I had in the English Department and Women's Studies stand out...
    English Literature Major and Master of Liberal Studies | Professor
    As an undergrad, I chose literature as my major. I chose it because I love literature. At the time, people didn't think too highly of literature majors. In the workplace today, our critical thinking skills are highly valued. The classes I had in the English Department and Women's Studies stand out...

Curriculum & Requirements

The English literature major serves those students who want to focus particularly on the study of literature — its many forms and styles, its rich history and the range of approaches to its analysis. The English literature track is an especially attractive major for those who plan to go on to graduate school. 

As an English literature major, a student will learn about various literary traditions, both British and American literature as well as traditions organized around other principles, such as post-colonial literature, women's literature, African-American literature and genres like poetry and drama. Courses are designed to expose students to many different sorts of works and to help them develop questions and strategies of critical thinking that will make all kinds of literary expression meaningful. And the works students will study will provide many ways of looking at the world and enrich their quality of life. What's more, students have many opportunities to hone critical writing and research skills and to practice the art of presenting research findings to a group, all skills in high demand in today's workplace. The English literature major is an excellent way to combine development of interpretive and writing skills with an exciting, in-depth encounter with some of the very best writing ever produced in the English language. 

As an English literature major, you must complete a minimum of 40 credits of major coursework with a grade of C- or better, with the exception of ENGL 419 How to Read Anything, which you must complete with a grade of C or better. You may not use ENGL 401 First-Year Writing, ENGL 415s, "Literature and..." courses, or ENGL 444 classes to satisfy major requirements.

A minimum of six courses must be completed at the 600 level or higher. 

Coursework must meet the following distribution requirements (a single course may satisfy multiple requirements):
ENGL 419
How to Read Anything 1
Select two 500-level literature courses (select from list below)
Select two pre-1800 literature courses (select from list below)
Select two post-1800 literature courses (select from list below)
ENGL 714
Critical Skills
Select one American literature course at the 600/700 level
Select one British literature course at the 600/700 level
Select one course that addresses race, the construction of race, and racial theories in a U.S. context (select from list below)
Select one course that investigates Anglophone literature in a global or transnational context (select from list below)
Select one course in a specific genre including, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, drama, fiction, and film with the exception of ENGL 533 (select from list below)
Capstone:
ENGL 787
English Major Seminar
500-level Courses
ENGL/LING 405
Introduction to Linguistics
ENGL 501
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
ENGL 502
Professional and Technical Writing
ENGL 503
Persuasive Writing
ENGL 510
Introduction to the Digital Humanities
ENGL 511
Major Writers in English
ENGL 512
British Literature I Age of Heroes: Beowulf to Dr. Faustus
ENGL 513W
British Literature II Age of Revolutions: Shakespeare to Austen
ENGL 514W
British Literature III: Revolts, Renewals, Migrations
ENGL 515W
American Literature I Conquest and Nation: First Contact to the Civil War
ENGL 516W
American Literature II Money, Migration, and Modernity: Huck Finn to Beloved
ENGL 517
Black Creative Expression
ENGL 518W
Bible as Literature
ENGL 520
Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
ENGL 521
Nature Writers
ENGL 526
Introduction to Fiction Writing
ENGL 527
Introduction to Poetry Writing
ENGL 533
Introduction to Film Studies
ENGL 534
21st Century Journalism: How the News Works
ENGL 549
In the Groove: African American Music as Literature
ENGL 550
Introduction to the Literature and Culture of Race
ENGL 555
Science Fiction
ENGL #557
Crime and Espionage
ENGL 560
Introduction to Latinx Literature and Culture
ENGL 575
Sex and Sensibility: The Rise of Chick Lit
ENGL 581
Reading the Postcolonial Experience
ENGL 585
Introduction to Women in Literature
ENGL 585R
Introduction to Women in Literature
ENGL 595
Literary Topics
Pre-1800 Literature Courses
ENGL 512
British Literature I Age of Heroes: Beowulf to Dr. Faustus
or ENGL 513W
British Literature II Age of Revolutions: Shakespeare to Austen
ENGL 595
Literary Topics (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL 657
Shakespeare
ENGL 693R
Special Topics in Literature (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL #741
Early American Literature: Colonialism, Revolution, Nation
ENGL #751
Medieval Romance
ENGL 753
Old English
ENGL 756
Chaucer
ENGL 758
Advanced Shakespeare
ENGL 758R
Advanced Shakespeare
ENGL 759
Milton
ENGL 767
Literature of the Restoration and Early 18th Century
ENGL #768
Literature of the Later 18th Century
ENGL 780
Drama of Shakespeare's Contemporaries: Will and Company
ENGL 783
English Novel of the Eighteenth Century
ENGL 787
English Major Seminar (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL 787R
English Major Seminar (if topic is appropriate)
Post-1800 Literature Courses
ENGL 514W
British Literature III: Revolts, Renewals, Migrations
or ENGL 516W
American Literature II Money, Migration, and Modernity: Huck Finn to Beloved
ENGL 595
Literary Topics (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL 609
Ethnicity in America: The African American Experience in the 20th Century
ENGL 636
Literature and the Environment
ENGL 650
I Hear America Singing: Studying American Literature and Culture
ENGL 681
Contemporary African Literature
ENGL 690
African American Literature
ENGL 693R
Special Topics in Literature (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL #738
Asian American Studies
ENGL 739
American Indian Literature
ENGL 743R
American Literature, 1865-1915: The Birth of the American Empire
ENGL #745
Contemporary American Literature
ENGL 749R
Major American Authors
ENGL #747
Studies in American Poetry
ENGL #771
Victorian Love Poetry
ENGL 773
Literary Modernisms: Return, Revolt, Recycle
ENGL 774R
Modern & Contemporary British Literature: New Departures
ENGL 775
Modern Irish Literature: A Changing Landscape
ENGL 777
The English Novel in the World
ENGL 782
Modern and Contemporary Drama
ENGL 784
English Novel of the 19th Century
ENGL 787
English Major Seminar (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL 787R
English Major Seminar (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL 797R
Special Studies in Literature (Race & Racial Theories) (if topic is appropriate)
Race, the Construction of Race, and Racial Theory Courses
ENGL 440A
On Race in Culture and Society
ENGL #441
On Race and Culture in Society
ENGL 517
Black Creative Expression
ENGL 549
In the Groove: African American Music as Literature
ENGL 550
Introduction to the Literature and Culture of Race
ENGL 560
Introduction to Latinx Literature and Culture
ENGL 585R
Introduction to Women in Literature
ENGL 609
Ethnicity in America: The African American Experience in the 20th Century
ENGL 650R
I Hear America Singing: Studying American Literature and Culture
ENGL 690
African American Literature
ENGL 693
Special Topics in Literature (subtopic R)
ENGL 693R
Special Topics in Literature
ENGL #738
Asian American Studies
ENGL 739
American Indian Literature
ENGL 743R
American Literature, 1865-1915: The Birth of the American Empire
ENGL 749R
Major American Authors
ENGL 758R
Advanced Shakespeare
ENGL 774R
Modern & Contemporary British Literature: New Departures
ENGL 778
Race and Gender in Film and Popular Culture
ENGL 787R
English Major Seminar
ENGL 797R
Special Studies in Literature (Race & Racial Theories)
Courses that Investigate Anglophone Literature in Global or Transnational Contexts
ENGL 581
Reading the Postcolonial Experience
ENGL 681
Contemporary African Literature
ENGL 773
Literary Modernisms: Return, Revolt, Recycle
ENGL 775
Modern Irish Literature: A Changing Landscape
ENGL 777
The English Novel in the World
Courses in a specific genre including poetry, memoir, nonfiction, drama, fiction, and film 1
ENGL 520
Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
ENGL 555
Science Fiction
ENGL 575
Sex and Sensibility: The Rise of Chick Lit
ENGL 585R
Introduction to Women in Literature
ENGL 616A
Studies in Film/Genre
ENGL 616B
Studies in Film/Authorship
ENGL 616C
Studies in Film/Culture and Ideology
ENGL 616D
Studies in Film/Narrative and Style
ENGL 618
Film Theory
ENGL 693R
Special Topics in Literature (if topic is appropriate)
ENGL #747
Studies in American Poetry
ENGL 778
Race and Gender in Film and Popular Culture
ENGL 797R
Special Studies in Literature (Race & Racial Theories)

Please see your advisor if you have questions about other courses that might fulfill these requirements.

Candidates for a degree must satisfy all of the University Discovery Program requirements in addition to satisfying the requirements of each individual major program. Bachelor of arts candidates must also satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.

The required minimum overall GPA in major coursework is 2.0.

English literature majors may use one major-required course to satisfy one Discovery category requirement.

Majors may only count one online course toward their English major requirements.

Students interested in majoring in English literature should consult Carla Cannizzaro, academic/career counselor, Department of English, 230F Hamilton Smith Hall, (603) 862-1313 or the director of the English literature program.

English Department Student Learning Outcomes: Undergraduate program Undergraduate students in the English Department at the University of New Hampshire have many options as they advance to degree. They can choose to complete a general English major or opt to follow one of several specialized tracks: English Literature, Journalism, English Teaching, and Linguistics. I. All undergraduate English majors acquire the same core skills. These include:

  • Proficiency in analytical writing, critical thinking, and public-speaking.
  • Knowledge of important literary genres and subgenres
  • Fluency in literary terminology,
  • A broad understanding of British-and-American literature, from the medieval period in England and the moment of first contact in America to the present day.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in writing an analytical essay that offers a sophisticated close-reading or explication of a literary text. This essay will have a clear thesis and proceed in a logical fashion, with interpretive claims supported by evidence from the text.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in literary research and in writing an extended thesis-driven research paper in which sources are correctly and responsibly cited.

Demonstrated understanding of how to read across the color line in the US and /or how to analyze literary works written in English from outside the UK and the US--from India, Africa, and the Caribbean, for example. II. Students in our major tracks acquire the following specialized skills.

Explore Program Details

Reading literature encourages the mind to enter new, and sometimes improbable, spheres of experience. Some literary texts inspire us to feel admiration and compassion for unlikely heroes or heroines: a son overwhelmed by the sudden death of his father and his mother's quick remarriage to his despicable uncle, a woman who loses her social standing and whose subsequent humiliation and poverty drive her to suicide, a wife trapped in a loveless marriage, or a daughter who accidentally encounters her birth parents. Others confront us with perplexing concepts: the "ineluctable modality of the visible," "fearful symmetry," and that it can "be very, very dangerous to live even one day." Still others ask us to consider the wondrous properties of the very, very small (a grain of sand, leaves of grass) or the very, very large (a white whale, the Congo); or to observe the world from a multitude of perspectives, from above or below, earlier or later, male or female, east or west, black or white, all at the same time. Literature, too, grants access to scenes or sights that can be neither diagrammed nor charted nor otherwise pictured. How are two lovers like a pair of compasses? How is life like a loaded gun, or love without hope like a hat full of larks? Magnificent new microscopes and telescopes have brought human beings, standing somewhere between the stars and sub-atomic particles, a little closer to both. Literature transports the cosmos into our most private and personal reflections; yet it also shows us how everyday things, the objects and scenery we hardly notice as we trudge through our routines, can be made radiant with a strange beauty. "Poetry," a poet wrote, "purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being." Literature is not a physical instrument; it is a purely intellectual one. But, like an unfamiliar piece of computer technology, we need to learn how to use it—or we will be left behind; our lives will be seriously diminished. How literature works is what the English major can teach you.

Rachel Trubowitz and Michael Ferber
Professors of English, University of New Hampshire

take the next step

student posing in doorway on campus
LEARN HOW TO APPLY
thompson hall in summer
SCHEDULE A VISIT
student at Career Event
REQUEST INFORMATION