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Roger Williams University offers a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, as well as an English Literature/Secondary Education dual major.

The English Literature program at RWU celebrates the British and American canon, while offering opportunities to explore authors and works from other traditions, including world literatures in translation and literatures that focus on cultures, genres, periods and themes representative of both non-western and western perspectives. Studies occur in an environment marked by strong faculty commitment to student-centered education. As a result, students are actively engaged in achieving individual excellence and are involved also in the larger life of formal and informal program activities in and out of class.

Social elements of the program include a literature society and the international honor society. The academic design of the curriculum fosters progressive intellectual development; depth and breadth of knowledge of literature and its many integrated contexts (especially philosophical, psychological, historical, aesthetic and cross-cultural); and the assembly of critical thinking, analytical writing, argument and defense, research, presentation and related skills, all of which prepare students for leadership roles, graduate study as well as a wide variety of professional careers in education and the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Student Learning Outcomes

100-level courses:

  1. Formulate a succinct, well-constructed thesis statement
  2. Focus on primary texts and close reading
  3. Assign at least two formal short essays (3-5 pages)
  4. Require frequent, regular writing assignments—textual commentaries (TC) 1-2 pages
  5. Test for mastery of literary terms
  6. Convey to students that this knowledge and these skills are expected in subsequent English Literature courses


  1. ABs and TCs continue in American and British survey courses (ENG 240, 260, 270, 290)
  2. Mastery of additional terminology relevant to these courses and reinforcement of those terms mastered at the 100-level continues
  3. Continue to focus on primary texts with the introduction and use of secondary sources
  4. Required essay length increases to 5-6 pages
  5. Exception to item 4 above: ENG 220 (Literary Analysis)
    a) Use a casebook approach
    b) Develop thesis skills
    c) Require students to participate in a colloquium
    d) Length of literary criticism / research essay: 8-10 pages
    e) Develop the paper in stages: proposal, draft of introduction with thesis statement, outline of paper, and multiple drafts


  1. Upper-level courses build on skills developed in lower levels
  2. Mastery of additional terminology relevant to these courses and reinforcement of those terms mastered at the lower-level courses continues
  3. TCs continue
  4. Integrate additional theoretical approaches to studying texts with continued emphasis on close reading of primary texts
  5. Require a major essay of at least 10 pages that includes integration of critical sources
  6. Require formal oral presentations
  7. Addition to items 1-7 above: Thesis (ENG 480 and 481) specific:
    a) A formal proposal with outline (ENG 480)
    b) Thesis – a minimum of 25-30 pages (ENG 481)
    c) Participation in a public colloquium (ENG 481)