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Introduction to Literary Studies: ENGL 301

Course purpose and objectives

English 301 (Introduction to Literary Studies) introduces English majors to the discourse, practices, and protocols associated with the study of literature. The course is the gateway to all English classes above the sophomore-level surveys and must be completed before taking any upper-division classes in the major. Prerequisites: Successful completion of English 101 (Written English) and English 102, 103, or 104.

Essential skills and outcomes to be acquired through the course include:

  1. A basic familiarity with some of the major theoretical and critical approaches to literature
  2. A conversancy in the terminology used when analyzing literature
  3. An understanding of poetry, drama, short fiction, and novel forms, as well as any other genres of interest to the instructor, and their specific attributes
  4. A proficiency in conducting literary research
  5. A mastery of the Modern Language Association (MLA) conventions and protocols used in literary scholarship
  6. A strengthened ability to write persuasively, critically, and elegantly

Required texts and materials

All sections of English 301 should use the following resources:
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers . 6 th ed. New York : MLA, 2003.*
Harmon, William, and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature . 10 th ed. Upper Saddle River : Prentice Hall, 2005.*
Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory. 5 th ed. New York : Longman, 2007.
*Or latest edition

Variable Texts

Instructors of this course should supplement the required texts with short readings (stories and poems), at least one drama, and at least one novel. The selection of these specific titles will be left to the instructor’s discretion.


English 301 is a writing-intensive course. As such, instructors teaching the course should assign writing assignments totaling twenty (20) graded pages, and at least one assignment should involve a research component (e.g., a research paper, an annotated bibliography).