Degree Outcomes in English Literature
Objective: Our aim is to ensure that all English majors and minors receive a well-rounded background in English literature. For an Honours English major, we define “well-rounded” as some knowledge of all the different periods, geographies, and genres of literature written in English and the different applied and theoretical approaches to the study of literature; writing by women and by men; the historical development of English as a language and as a literary medium; and the relation of English literature to other world literary and cultural traditions.
Skills a BU English Honours graduate should possess at the point of graduation:
- superior written, oral, and aural communication skills: the ability to write clear, engaging prose with confidence and style on complex issues; to write in a variety of styles to suit the required occasion (e.g. informal response, impartial reportage, formal academic discourse); to edit/revise one’s own writing and the written work of others; to speak extemporaneously in public on complex subjects with ease and poise; to listen to and grasp the complex ideas articulated by others.
- superior powers of critical thinking: the ability to recognize strong and weak arguments; to analyze complex data; to marshall evidence in the formulation of a reasoned, logical judgement; to organize complex information in succinct ways.
- the ability to closely analyze a text for its themes and for the rhetorical strategies which manipulate the response of its reader/viewer; to read texts from different time periods in a variety of genres and media (including theatre, film, and other cultural media).
- an awareness that any text can be read in multiple ways; that more than one legitimate ‘meaning’ can derive from any text.
- an awareness of the need to situate a text within its historical/social/cultural frame; knowledge of English’s changing place in the world as a language and as a cultural medium.
- an awareness of the limits of knowledge: the problematics of intentionality; the malleability and ambiguity of language as a tool of communication.
- the knowledge of the different themes and social/cultural issues that literature deals with at different points in time; knowledge of the major shifts in approaches to writing literature and their political, social, economic and cultural contexts; knowledge of changing social attitudes toward class, religion, race, gender, and sexuality as reflected in literature.
- the knowledge of the different theories (classical, medieval, modern, post-modern) about literature; about the forms, functions, and purposes of literature.
- creative problem solving.
- knowledge of cultural interaction, the politics of language and identity, the effects of global imperialism and of globalization.
- the ability to engage in independent research; to identify, propose and develop one’s own subject for critical investigation; to find and use appropriate secondary and critical sources correctly (information literacy); to manage one’s time effectively and to produce quality work under pressure.