English goes major and minor in fall 2023

Written by
Sarah Malone, Department of English
Aug. 8, 2023

New minor accompanies the change of concentration to major.

What’s in a name? A lot, according to Dean of the College Jill Dolan, the Annan Professor in English and professor of theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts.

In an interview with the Daily Princetonian, Dolan said that “One of the issues with our ‘concentrations’ and ‘certificates’ is that, although they’re unique in our landscape, and people learn what they mean, they don’t translate well outside of Princeton.” She noted that “A lot of students just call them majors and minors. So, this revised nomenclature will better align us with other colleges and universities while preserving exactly what concentrations and certificates already do.”

University-wide, the minor enables formal acknowledgement of student work on transcripts, and enrollment in up to two minors is permitted. Where offered by departments that until now offered only concentrations to undergraduates, the minors program creates new pathways at Princeton.

For undergraduates of all majors, the new minor in English offers an opportunity to train their attention to effective writing and a variety of analytical, critical, and interpretive modes. Just as there are no prerequisites, there are no required courses for the minor, enabling students to chart their own paths through the many literary periods, critical and theoretical approaches, genres and media studied in English courses.

“English is a global language,” said Director of Undergraduate Studies Russ Leo, associate professor of English. “Our new minor will offer students of all majors the opportunity to study the varieties and historical development as well as the increasing global prominence of anglophone literatures and cultures.”

English will hold an open enrollment period each spring for prospective minors. Students are encouraged to declare in their sophomore year but may declare a minor any time before the beginning of their junior spring term. English minors are expected to take five courses, at least two of which should be seminars.

Undergraduates enrolled in the English minors program will also be expected to complete a reflection paper after completing the requirements for the minor. The paper is the equivalent of the senior departmental exam that graduating English majors take, which also includes, as one component, a reflection paper.

“We are eager to serve the larger University community,” Leo said, “and to offer an array of courses that give students a real and rich sense of our archives and methods.”

With reporting by Julie Bonette, Eden Teshome and Denise Valenti