What do the different levels mean for English literature courses?
General introductions to the study of English literature. These courses survey all the different modes (verse, drama, prose) and many of the different genres of English literature. Multiple short take-home writing assignments and/or in-class written tests. Minimal secondary source research requirement (if any). Emphasis is on the development of the student’s own close reading skills. Minimal expectation (if any) of oral work beyond normal class participation (i.e. no oral in-class tests).
Courses are more focused on a specific period or type of literature, but the course material is readily accessible in some respect (e.g. the material is read in translation, the material is a broad and general survey in some respect, the material is ‘pop culture’). Written assignments, especially longer ones, may begin to demand that the student account for secondary sources in his/her argument. Students are given focused topics to write on. Minimal expectation (if any) of oral work beyond normal class participation (i.e. no seminar presentations).
Specific courses on a time period/geographic area/cultural group which can delve in depth into the material. The course material itself is less accessible than that found in a 200 level course — the themes addressed are more complex or are culturally unfamiliar, the language/mode of language is more challenging. Longer written assignments have a definite research requirement and students are encouraged to develop their own approaches to assigned essay topics. There may be some opportunity for creative work. There may be assignments that require the student to speak in front of the full class beyond normal class participation (e.g. seminar presentations, debates).
Less lecture, more seminar work than that found in 300 level courses. The course material deals with language/literature which is very complex and difficult to engage with on some level. Students have the opportunity to practice their skills and research interpretation at a particularly advanced level. There may be some opportunity for creative work. There is in-class discussion/critique of supportive primary and/or critical scholarly material. A written research paper of some length is required in which students significantly develop their own topic and approach. There must be a significant component of oral/aural work (e.g. seminar presentation, debate) beyond normal class participation.