Goals & Learning Objectives

Vision of English Department

The English Major is designed to convey to students a broad historical knowledge of English, American, and other Anglophone literatures, a sophisticated habit of critically engaging literary and cultural texts, a shared understanding of major problems, trends, and methods of literary and cultural analysis, and the ability to pose questions and organize knowledge in productive and original ways. While offering students clear direction on how to profit most from their study within the English department, the major also seeks to encourage students to assume an enduring habit of questioning and intellectual self-articulation. 

Goals for Undergraduate English Education

  • Sophisticated critical engagement with literary and cultural texts, including consideration of the relationship between imaginative expression and the cultural and material circumstances in which that expression takes place and is received.
  • Knowledge of literary critical methodologies:  close reading, textual analysis, ability to make a disciplinary argument based in disciplinary use of evidence.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between criticism and theory in the discipline:  major theories that have impacted and are impacting literary and cultural study, what methods and focusses have proceeded from these approaches, and how to bring a larger knowledge of concepts to bear in one’s own work.
  • Ability to propose arguments that present, develop, and defend insightful claims about texts through formal analysis, engagement with existing criticism, and, when appropriate, engagement with primary and secondary material from the historical period.

Learning Objectives for the Major

The learning objectives for the major are consonant with the general philosophy of Trinity College, with the departmental goals outlined above, and with the more specific guidelines on education in modern languages set forth by the Modern Language Association.

  • Majors should be able to read literary and cultural texts in relation to philosophical, cultural, social and historical contexts.
  • Majors should be able to close-read literary and cultural texts, engage in critical analysis of these texts, and make arguments about them based in a disciplinary understanding of argument and evidence.
  • Majors should be able to write about literary texts with conceptual complexity, informed at least in part by familiarity with literary and cultural theory.
  • Majors should be able to locate their own argument in in a critical conversation, with understanding of discipline specific use of secondary sources.
  • Majors should be able to write rhetorically powerful original literature (in the case of creative writing) and/or rhetorically powerful and logically convincing work about literature (in the case of literary criticism).