The English Major's Notebook

Students who enter the Department have available to them via the English website a digital English Major's Notebook to use throughout their careers in the Department. 

Advising Materials

Each semester you will meet with your ENGL advisor to discuss your plans for the upcoming semester, your career plans, and other issues related to your success as a student at Winthrop. You should monitor your Degree Checklist and your planned schedule for each semester. Advising usually takes place immediately after the semester break, so watch for signs on campus and e-mail reminders. You can find your advisor's name on Wingspan; their office location, phone number, and e-mail are on the CAS Faculty Directory. Remember: it's your responsibility to make an advising appointment and to keep it!

To be advised, consult your catalog, your Degree Checklist sheet, and Degree Works to see what requirements you need to complete, and check Wingspan for which required courses will be offered. Plan a tentative schedule (with options in case you get closed out of classes) and bring this with you to your advising session.

During your advising session every semester, you and your advisor can assess your progress toward your degree. Advising is also the time to ask your advisor about career plans, graduate schools, and other questions regarding your time at Winthrop and beyond, so come prepared to make the most of the experience!

Reading List

By thinking of things you could understand them. — James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

No student can read everything; we know that. And students who are planning on being professional writers in a technical field may focus on very different kinds of readings than those who plan to teach secondary school or those who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in literature or linguistics. But for some years, students have been asking Department faculty for a listing of what they should have read by the time they graduate from the department. While the answer to that question will vary depending on your career plans and interests, the lists that follow will give you a sense of what we hope every student who completes the B.A. in English will have read by the time graduation rolls around. That's why we've created our English Major's Reading List (PDF - 240 KB).

We have tried to keep the number of strongly recommended authors in each category to around a dozen (though as you can see, our math is sometimes shaky). All students should have read most of the strongly recommended works; students who wish to be exceptionally prepared, such as those heading for graduate school in literature, should also have read as much of the suggested reading as possible. You may read these works on your own or in the classes you take.

For each work you read on your own, we suggest you complete a reading notebook entry to help you recall its contents and importance. Each entry should contain, at minimum, a note to remind you of what this writer's work was like or what it was about, what you thought of it, and at least one question. These may be questions about things you did not understand, or more open-ended discussion questions about style, form, themes, meanings, and connections to other texts. You may also want to include references to passages that you found particularly difficult or interesting (identify by page and paragraph or line number), good quotes, summaries of long works, lists of characters, connections you're seeing among works or writers, and any personal associations the work sparks for you. For works you read in class, we suggest that you photocopy or re-copy your class notes about the work into this notebook.

If you are preparing to take the GRE in preparation for graduate study, we also suggest that you add entries for the historical introductions to the major literary periods in an anthology such as The Norton Anthology or The Longman Anthology. These will help you put the works you're reading in context.

Keeping this reading record as you go along will help you "process" your reading.

The result will be a full portfolio of reading notes that will serve you well in graduate school, in teaching positions, and when you're preparing for your appearance on Jeopardy.