Course Catalog

Department of English


Renée Bergland, Professor
Lydia Fash, Assistant Professor, NTT
Sheldon George, Department Chair, Professor
Audrey Golden, Assistant Professor
Kelly Hager, Professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies and Director of General Education
Suzanne Leonard, Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Gender and Cultural Studies
Richard Wollman, Professor


Students of literature become familiar with the work of important writers; are introduced to the individual and cultural values, ideas, debates, and insights woven into literature; and sharpen their understanding of the English language. Repeated practice in thinking, writing, and speaking about literary texts helps students discover their own voices, develop their skills of critical analysis, and gain confidence in themselves as independent thinkers. Students who major in English learn to read with discernment, an ability that can enrich them for the rest of their lives. At the same time, they develop pragmatic skills that will serve them well in the world of the professions. Simmons English majors have gone on to successful careers in law, publishing, journalism, advertising, business, public service, technology, and education.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a BA in English, a graduate should have gained the following knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  1. Disciplinary Skills

    Students will be able to read closely and critically, write critical essays driven by their own insights in conversation with those of published scholars, do research independently, reflect critically on their own analytical thinking, and talk intelligently about their insights in discussions or formal presentations.

  2. Disciplinary Content

    Students will be able to think about literature on the basis of a reasonably broad knowledge of individual literary works, literary history in different periods, and literary or critical theories.

  3. Critical-Historical Awareness

    Students will be able to discuss how literary works fit into the context of their times and grow out of a society with a particular history and politics. They will be able to discern the complex relationship of representation to issues of power in relation to race, class, gender, and sexuality.

  4. Life Skills After Graduation

    Students will be able to write insightfully, read closely, think critically, and do independent research in ways that serve them after graduation, in a variety of career paths or further degree programs. They will be especially aware of the power of language and discourse to shape thought and action.

  5. Caring about Literature as Art

    Students will be able to recognize, appreciate, and express original insights regarding the artfulness of literary works. Some will be able to pursue the creation of such art works on their own.

Departmental Honors

Honors in English in either Literature or Writing

Students can obtain English Honors in either Literature or Writing in two ways:

  1. Thesis option: A student with a GPA of 3.67 in English may submit a thesis application and a portfolio at the end of the first semester of her junior year to the chair of the department. The portfolio should include a writing sample, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent describing her intellectual interests and reasons for pursuing an honors thesis in English. The chair, in consultation with members of the department, will determine candidacy. A student who is interested in this thesis option should consider enrolling in ENGL 390 as a junior. This version of English Honors requires that candidates complete the regular requirements for either the Literature or Writing major, plus ENGL 350, Independent Study, followed by ENGL 355, Thesis.
  2. Twelve Course option: Students may instead earn English Honors in either Literature or Writing by taking 12 English classes, including ENGL 390, Seminar in Literary Scholarship. This option requires that the student maintain a GPA of 3.5 in English and earn at least an A- in ENGL 390.

Students intending to continue the study of English at the graduate level, or those seeking to better position themselves for employment in a related field, will find it advisable to pursue English Honors. They are also strongly urged to take a significant number of English courses at the 300-level and to take a literature course in another modern language.

AP and Transfer Credits

Students who major in English cannot use AP test scores to replace core requirements of the major. A score of 5 or higher on the IB will count as non-specific academic credit.

The department will accept up to seven classes toward the major for seniors transferring to Simmons, up to five for juniors, and up to three for sophomores. We require grades of C or above in all classes transferred in toward the major. We will accept advanced classes toward the major if students have earned grades of C or above in these classes, but these classes will not satisfy any 200 or 300- level requirements.

Capstone Requirement

In the English Department, the capstone requirement can be met in the following ways:

ENGL 350 Independent Study 
ENGL 380 Fieldwork 
ENGL 390 Seminar in Literary Scholarship
HUM 370 Internship 

Alternatively, English majors who have double majors may meet the capstone requirement by taking appropriate courses or completing projects in an area other than English. Internship and Field Work (HUM 370 and ENGL 380) do not count toward the ten courses required for the major or the five courses required for the minor, but they can offer a launching pad to professional work after graduation.