In order to meet the college-wide Senior Exercise requirement, the English Department requires its majors to take an examination based on a set reading list. The examination is based on a short reading list of a major work or set of lyric poems by twelve different writers; it will be completed in two timed sittings, normally on the Saturday of the week after spring break. The morning two-hour examination will consist of short-answer questions and a short essay, as well as identifications of and brief commentary on passages reproduced from works on the reading list. The afternoon two-hour examination will require students to write an extended essay analyzing a lyric poem by one of the poets on the reading list. The reading list will be different for each graduating class, so students should request from the chair of the English Department the reading list for their particular class.
Students from the Class of 2015 and 2016 who do not enroll in the Senior Seminar must complete an additional component of the Senior Exercise. In addition to taking the examination, the student who chooses not to take the Senior Seminar must submit a critical essay or creative project. Proposals for the essay/creative project (a brief description of the topic, including authors, works, and critical problems to be addressed, or the nature of the creative work to be pursued) are due in fall semester; they will be evaluated by a department committee to ensure that the proposed essay/project is appropriate for a culminating exercise in the English major. Student work on the critical essay or creative project should be undertaken and completed independently.