Requirements: English

Humanities Division

The Department of English teaches students to read with active understanding and wide appreciation, to write with clarity and grace and to explore themselves and the world through the intensive study of literature.


New Students

ENGL 103 and 104 are designed for students beginning the serious study of literature at the college level, and as such are especially appropriate for first-year students. Either ENGL 103 or ENGL 104, or junior standing, is a prerequisite for further study in English at Kenyon. Students may register for a maximum of two courses in English, and students may not go back to take a 100-level course after taking a 200-level course.

More advice for new students is available on the English Department website.

ENGL 210–289

Students who have taken ENGL 103 or 104 should advance to one of the courses numbered 210–289. These courses have been designed for and are limited to sophomores and first-year students. Like the department's 100-level courses, these courses are small in size, so that classroom interaction can be discussion-centered and more time can be devoted to helping students with their writing. These courses provide an introduction to fundamental terms, techniques and methods for the advanced study of literature. Students may expect to learn some of the following: how to do a close reading of a literary text, how to conduct research in literary study (including an introduction to library and information resources, and basic reference tools), some of the basic principles of different approaches to literary criticism, important terms used in literary analysis (including prosody in poetry courses), and the proper documentation of sources. While the subject matter of these courses sometimes parallels that of courses for upper-level students (e.g., Shakespeare, postcolonial literature), all are intended as introductions to a focused and intensive consideration of particular genres, themes, periods or critical questions.

ENGL 310–389

These are courses grounded in the advanced study of literature in English, as well as in the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to literature. These courses examine literary works from a range of historical periods, written in a wide variety of genres, and contributing to different national traditions. Through the reading of influential critical books and articles or through the instructors' modeling of different critical practices, these courses aim to teach students about the various modes of literary criticism, theory and scholarship that constitute the current state of literary study. Thus, these courses aim to make students critically self-aware. Some of these courses will situate literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts. Others will focus on the formal concerns of genre and style. Many will require that students conduct independent research. When the subject matter of these courses overlaps with that of an ENGL course numbered from 210 to 289, these courses will provide more intensive critical study than the broad introductions of the lower-division courses. By taking courses at both curricular levels, students will thus have the opportunity to specialize in a period or genre. The prerequisites for these courses are ENGL 103 or 104 and an ENGL course numbered from 210 to 289. For students with junior standing, the course prerequisites are waived, since such students have typically written enough analytical essays to be prepared for advanced work in literary study. While these courses will constitute the bulk of the coursework of most English majors, non-majors are encouraged to enroll since contemporary literary study frequently draws upon knowledge and techniques from other disciplines.

Requirements for the Major

English majors are required to complete a minimum of 11 courses, offered or approved by the department. To graduate as an English major, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of ENGL 103 or 104
  • Completion of at least 10 courses above the 100 level, six courses of which should be at the 300 level or above. The remaining courses may be completed at the 200 level or above, at the discretion of the student in consultation with his/her advisor
  • Distribution of coursework above the 100 level must fulfill the following criteria:
  • Completion of at least two courses, of study of literature written in each of the following historical periods (please see the English Major Distribution Requirements or check specific course descriptions to see which requirements they satisfy):
    • Pre-1700
    • 1700–1900
    • Post-1900
  • Completion of one course designated "Approaches to Literary Study." Courses in this category foreground a variety of methods, critical paradigms and theories for reading and analyzing literature, language and culture. They are intended to help students think self-consciously and more systematically about tools and methods that can be applied broadly within the discipline. Such courses will be designated as meeting the approaches to literary study requirement in their course description. The one course in approaches to literary study may not also count toward the historical distribution requirement.
  • Completion of at least two additional elective courses from any of the department's offerings above the 100 level. Based on the individual curricular choices they have made within the major, students may petition to have a maximum of one literature course taken in a department other than the English Department be counted toward their major as an elective. Students will need to present solid arguments about how and why such courses are integrated with the English major.
  • Completion of the Senior Seminar: ENGL 405 or ENGL 410
  • ENGL 405: Senior Seminar in Creative Writing
    Offered in more than one section each spring semester, this seminar is required for English majors pursuing an emphasis in creative writing. The course will involve critical work on a topic chosen by the instructor (such as “Reliable and Unreliable: Investigating Narrative Voice,” “Beginnings and Endings,” “The Little Magazine in America,” and “Documentary Poetics”) to provide context and structure for students' creative work.  Students should check online listings for the specific focus of each section. Although not primarily a workshop, this seminar will require students to work on a substantial creative project (fiction, nonfiction or poetry). Prerequisite: This course is open only to senior English majors who are completing the emphasis in creative writing.
  • ENGL 410: Senior Seminar in Literature
    Offered in several sections, this seminar will require students to undertake a research paper of their own design, within the context of a course that ranges across genres, literary periods and national borders. Students will study literary works within a variety of critical, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts. All sections of the course will seek to extend the range of interpretive strategies students can use to undertake a major literary research project. Each student will complete a research paper of 15-17 pages. Prerequisite: This course is open only to senior English majors. However, if the enrollment cap has not been reached after the enrollment of senior English majors, then seniors who have declared the English minor will be permitted to enroll.
  • Students pursuing honors will take the ENGL 497 — Honors Seminar rather than ENGL 405 or 410 — Senior Seminar.
  • Completion of the Senior Capstone

Requirements for the Major with Emphasis in Creative Writing

Students wishing to major in English with an emphasis in creative writing are required to complete the following:

  • To have taken five of the 10 courses  before the spring semester of their senior year in the following areas:
  • To meet all requirements for the regular English major.
  • One section of any of the following: 
    • ENGL 200 Introduction to Fiction Writing 
    • ENGL 201 Introduction to Poetry Writing 
    • ENGL 202 Creative Nonfiction Workshop
  • One section of any of the following:
    • ENGL 300 Advanced Fiction Writing
    • ENGL 301 Advanced Poetry Writing
    • ENGL 302 Advanced Creative Nonfiction
  • One literature course primarily in the genre of the emphasis (poetry, prose-fiction or nonfiction), normally to be taken before the advanced workshop in the genre. Note: This course might also fulfill a period or approaches requirement.
  • One course to be chosen from among the following:
    • An additional workshop, at any level, in the genre of the emphasis
    • An advanced individual study in the genre of the emphasis
    • An additional workshop, at any level, in any other genre
    • An additional literature course primarily in the genre of the emphasis
  • ENGL 405 Senior Seminar in Creative Writing or ENGL 497 Honors Seminar.

Qualified seniors who have taken both introductory and advanced creative writing workshops may, with faculty approval, pursue an individual study in creative writing (ENGL 493); this course is not available to students who have not taken both workshops.

Students who are unable to take the advanced creative writing workshops may petition the English Department to count two introductory workshops in a single genre as fulfillment of the two-workshop requirement for the emphasis, as long as these workshops have been taken with different instructors.  ENGL 205 may count as a prerequisite for 300-level creative writing courses.  Introductory courses in fiction and creative nonfiction (ENGL 200 and ENGL 202) may serve as prerequisites for advanced courses in both genres (ENGL 300 and ENGL 302).  Student pursuing the creative writing emphasis must take at least one of their two primary workshops (200- and 300- level) at Kenyon.

ENGL 200, 201, and 202 (Creative Writing)
Beginning in 2018-19, unless otherwise directed by a specific course description or by communication from the English department, students will no longer need to submit applications for 200-level creative writing courses, including ENGL 200 Introduction to Fiction Writing, ENGL 201 Introduction to Poetry Writing, ENGL 202 Creative Nonfiction Workshop, ENGL 204 Writing Fiction, Nonfiction and Other Narrative Forms, and ENGL 205 Creative Writing: A Multi-Genre Workshop. Students are eligible to register for 200-level courses beginning in the spring semester of their first year and should enroll in only one 200-level creative writing course at a time. A number of seats will be reserved for students in each class year (i.e., sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the fall, and all four class years in the spring). Students unable to register for an introductory creative writing course should contact the department chair. 

 ENGL 300, 301, and 302 (Creative Writing)
Admission to all 300-level creative writing workshops is based on the submission of a writing sample and permission of the instructor.  ENGL 200, 202, or 204 is a prerequisite for ENGL 300 or ENGL 302; ENGL 201 is a prerequisite for ENGL 301.  Creative writing courses are open to non-majors as well as majors.  For specific course offerings, sample requirements and submission deadlines, check with the English Department administrative assistant.

Requirements for the Minor

English minors are required to complete a minimum of five courses offered or approved by the department. Students must meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of three courses in each of the following historical periods (please see the English Major Distribution Requirements or check specific course descriptions to see which requirements they satisfy):
    • Pre-1700
    • 1700–1900
    • Post-1900
  • Completion of two electives
  • Completion of at least two courses at the 300 or 400 level

Please note that only one of ENGL 103 or 104 can count toward the minor. No courses taken off campus (except in the Kenyon-Exeter program) can be applied toward the minor.

Senior Capstone

To fulfill the senior capstone in English, each major must pass the Senior Seminar in Literature or the Senior Seminar in Creative Writing. In the Senior Seminar in Literature, each student will complete a substantial research paper. In the Senior Seminar in Creative Writing, each student will complete a substantial creative project.


Students of demonstrated ability who would like to undertake more independent work are encouraged to enter the Honors Program.  In order to be eligible for the Honors Program, students must have a 3.5 grade-point average in their English courses and a 3.3 grade-point average overall. 

The Honors Program in English consists of the following senior-year courses (totaling three courses):

  • ENGL 497 Senior Honors (fall semester)
  • ENGL 493 Individual Study (fall semester)
  • ENGL 498 Senior Honors (spring semester)

During this process, the honors candidates will be responsible for:

  • A thesis, in the form of a substantial critical essay of approximately 50 pages in length or a creative project of commensurate scope, evaluated by the department and an outside examiner (from outside Kenyon).
  • A reflection paper: five to seven pages, discussing a list of texts developed in consultation with the advisor.
  • An oral exam on both the thesis and the reflection paper, conducted by the outside examiner.

Please see the description for the Honors Program in English, available from the department administrative assistant, for details. Detailed and complete information about the Honors Program is also available on the English Department website.

Kenyon-Exeter Program

The department directs a year-long program of study at the University of Exeter in England for junior majors and non-majors who qualify for admission. A member of our department teaches at the university, conducts seminars for Kenyon students, leads numerous co-curricular excursions, and administers the program. See the director of the Center for Global Engagement or the department chair for more information.

Transfer Credit Policy

Students wishing to transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere must petition the department before taking the courses in question. At its discretion, the department may award a maximum of one course as an elective toward the English major for a journalism course taken at another institution.