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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 21, 2024
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

English Literature, BA

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The English literature major is designed to develop a critical understanding of literary and cultural traditions in English that is at once informed, skeptical, and appreciative. Some of the distinctive features of the literature curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh are the recurrent concerns from the introductory to the most advanced undergraduate courses with the following: questions of how and why we read and write and participate in cultural activities; the contexts in which a range of literary texts and films are produced, understood, evaluated, and used; and the changing role of art and culture in the contemporary world. The major offers students opportunities to study canonical works of British and American literature from medieval times to the present; often, these texts will be studied in conjunction with historical or philosophical works, with other national literatures in English, and/or with films or works of popular culture. In many courses, students’ own writing will be an important object of study.

Major Requirements

The English literature major requires the completion of 36 credits distributed as follows.

Two period courses chosen from a listing of approved courses

Six elective courses

  • At least four of these courses should fall within the designated area of concentration selected by the student. Students may apply for special approval with the director of the Literature program to count an elective not previously listed in a given area of concentration.
  • At least three of these courses must be from the 1000-level or above.
  • Students may take up to two courses from other programs in the Department of English (Composition, Film, Writing) designated within their area of concentration. Students may apply for special approval with the director of the Literature program to count an additional elective from another English program.
  • At least one of these courses should also fulfill a breadth of study requirement. Students should ask instructors or advisors whether a particular course or section fulfills this requirement.
  • Independent study, directed study, teaching assistantships, and internships may count toward any concentration depending upon the nature of the student’s work.

Additional information and requirements

  • There is no limit on the number of courses English majors may take on an S/NC basis, either inside or outside the department.
  • English majors automatically fulfill Dietrich School requirements for W courses.
  • Students who contemplate graduate study in English should remember that many schools do require second language competence, sometimes in more than one language.
  • The English department confers honors on those graduates who maintain a 3.25 overall GPA with a GPA of 3.50 or better in English departmental courses. The GPA is based on all English department courses, not just those that fulfill major requirements.

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