[3/12/2020: In compliance with University guidelines to conduct virtual activities through the end of spring 2020, we regret that many of our spring activities have been cancelled and/or revised. Students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Tamsen Wolff (twolff@) and/or the Undergraduate Administrator, Tara Broderick (tarab@) with any questions or concerns.]

The Concentration in English (Class of 2021 forward)

The English Department will hold an open house for sophomores and first-year students on Friday, December 6th, 2019 from 3:30-5:00pm in 40 McCosh Hall (outer door #4). The Director of Undergraduate Studies and current majors will be on hand to answer questions about spring courses, the major and the department. Please join us for hot chocolate, cookies, and conversation. If you plan to attend, kindly RSVP.

English concentrators from the Class of 2021 forward must take a total of 10 courses: the Junior Seminar (JRS), one course in Literary and Cultural History (LCH), and eight departmental courses. The Junior Seminar is a topical introduction to research methods in the discipline, and prepares students for their independent work. The Literary and Cultural History courses ask questions about tradition and transmission over longer periods, and provide background for more specialized study.

All courses in English follow the department's grading standards.

Class of 2020 English majors should follow the program requirements found here

The Junior Seminar

An introduction to the methods of research and the arts of criticism, taken in the fall of junior year (either at Princeton or while studying abroad at University College of London through OIP). Concentrators are placed in one of five seminars when they sign into the department as sophomores. The courses are topical (ranging from Emily Dickinson to Theater and Sacrifice), but all of them involve intensive practice in the reading and writing of literary criticism. During Junior Seminar students will begin work on their Junior Paper (JP), under the guidance of the Seminar instructor. During the spring term, JP work will continue, with the Seminar instructor acting as the student's JP adviser.

If you are interested in learning more about the UCL program, please contact Francesca Schenker at OIP, or attend one of information sessions offered by the department in the fall of 2019.

During the Junior Fall, students should plan a program of departmental courses for the next two years. The planned coursework for the Junior spring and Senior year should be discussed with the Junior Seminar instructor, who signs your Academic Planning Form and acts as the junior adviser during the fall term.

Distribution Requirements

Departmental distribution requirements ensure breadth in each concentrator's program of study. Everyone must take at least one course in each of the following areas for a total of 10 courses:

  • Literary and Cultural History (LCH)
  • Literature and Culture before 1700 (pre-1700)
  • Literature and Culture from 1700-1900 (1700-1900)
  • Literature and Culture from 1900-present (post-1900)
  • Difference and Diversity (D&D)
  • Theory and Criticism provides tools for thinking critically across all these periods, identities, and genres (T&C)
  • Junior Seminar (ENG 300)
  • Three additional ENG or ENG cross-listed courses

Each semester, the department offers a wide variety of courses in each area, and a full list is available on the courses page. You can also find a list of courses past and present organized by their distribution categories. A single course cannot be used to satisfy two distribution requirements simultaneously.

The Rule of Twelve

By University rules, a student in the AB program is limited to twelve one-term courses (plus independent work) in a given department, plus up to two departmental prerequisites taken during freshmen or sophomore year. Students who exceed the thirty-one course requirement for graduation may exceed the rule of twelve by as many courses, i.e., if you take thirty-two courses total, you can exceed the rule of twelve by one course, and so on. For most English concentrators, this means only twelve courses primarily designated as English courses (ENG courses or cross-listed courses where ENG comes first, e.g. ENG 327/GSS 332). Departmental cognates do not count against the rule of twelve, nor do crosslisted courses where English is not the home department (e.g. AAS 306 / ENG 302 / AMS 306, where the home department, the first listed, is AAS).

Tracks in Creative Writing and Theater

The English Department has many concentrators with a strong interest in Creative Writing and Theater, and offers special programs for students pursuing certificates in those closely related subjects. 

  • Creative Writing: students accepted to the certificate program in Creative Writing may cognate two CWR courses as departmental courses in English, and may substitute a thesis in CWR for the thesis in English. Final admission depends on the permission of the Program in Creative Writing to write a creative thesis in the spring of junior year. Students not approved to write a creative thesis may cognate one course in CWR.
  • Theater: students accepted to the certificate program in Theater may cognate two THR courses as departmental courses in English.

Certificate Programs

English encourages students with interdisciplinary interests to bring them to the Department, and to pursue connections with literary and cultural studies. Students who will receive a certificate in another discipline, and who can show (in their coursework or independent work) vital connections with their studies in English, may count one course in that discipline toward their studies in English, by permission of the Departmental Representative.