Requirements: English

Humanities Division

The Department of English teaches students to read with active understanding and wide appreciation, to write with clarity and grace, and to explore themselves and the world through the intensive study of literature.

The Kenyon College faculty voted to change from Kenyon units to semester hours. This change will go into effect for all students who start at the College in the fall of 2024. Both systems will be used throughout the course catalog with the Kenyon units being listed first.


New Students

ENGL 103 and 104 are designed for students beginning the serious study of literature at the college level, and as such are especially appropriate for first-year students. Either ENGL 103 or ENGL 104, or junior standing, is a prerequisite for further study in English at Kenyon. Students may not go back to take a 100-level course after taking a 200-level course. Students may count only one section of ENGL 103 or 104 toward the English major. AP credit cannot be used to satisfy any requirement of the English major or minor or to place out of ENGL 103 or 104.

More advice for new students is available on the English department website.

ENGL 210–289

Students who have taken ENGL 103 or 104 should advance to one of the courses numbered 210–289. These courses have been designed for and are limited to sophomores and first-year students. Like the department's 100-level courses, these courses are small, so that classroom interaction can be discussion-centered and more time can be devoted to helping students with their writing. These courses provide an introduction to fundamental terms, techniques, and methods for the advanced study of literature. Students may expect to learn some of the following: how to perform a close reading of a literary text, how to conduct research in literary study (including use of library and information resources and basic reference tools), some of the basic principles of different approaches to literary criticism, important terms used in literary analysis, and the proper documentation of sources. While the subject matter of these courses sometimes parallels that of courses for upper-level students (e.g., Shakespeare, postcolonial literature), all are intended as introductions to a focused and intensive consideration of particular genres, themes, periods or critical questions.

ENGL 310–389

Our 300-level courses pursue the advanced study of literature in English, as well as the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to literary study. These courses examine literary works from a range of historical periods, written in a wide variety of genres in different national traditions. Through the reading of influential critical books and articles or through the instructors' modeling of different critical practices, these courses aim to teach students about the various modes of literary criticism, theory and scholarship that constitute literary study today. Thus, these courses aim to make students critically self-aware. Some of these courses situate literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts. Others focus on the formal concerns of genre and style. Many require that students conduct independent research. All aim to address issues of diversity in literary production, reception and analysis. When the subject matter of these courses overlaps with that of an ENGL course numbered from 210 to 289, these courses provide more intensive critical study than the broad introductions of the lower-division courses. By taking courses at both levels, students have the opportunity to specialize in a period or genre. The prerequisites for these courses are ENGL 103 or 104 plus an ENGL course numbered from 210 to 289, or junior standing. 

Requirements for the Major

English majors are required to complete 11 courses, offered or approved by the department, amounting to at least 5.25 units/42 semester hours. These courses must include:

  • One section of ENGL 103 or 104
  • One course in each of three historical periods: pre-1700, 1700-1900 and 1900-present (three courses total)
  • One methods course
  • One course in creative practice
  • Two diversity courses
  • The Honors Seminar or a 400-level course in which you write the capstone project.

See below for more information about these requirements. See course descriptions to find out how individual courses count.

Only one section of ENGL 103 or ENGL 104 may count toward the major. Some courses may count toward more than one requirement (see individual course descriptions).  One course in literary study outside English may count toward the major as an elective for the Creative Practice requirement, or toward the Diversity requirement (with permission of the department chair). Students who have participated in the Kenyon-Exeter Program take fewer total courses to attain the 5.25 units/42 semester hours required for the major (because each Exeter University course in English typically equates to 0.94 Kenyon units/7.52 semester hours).

The Historical Period Requirement

Kenyon English majors take courses across three periods (pre-1700, 1700-1900 and 1900-present) in order to achieve breadth of knowledge in literary history. These courses also teach students how and why to read literary texts in their historical contexts. Historical differences and the shaping power of specific social and political circumstances are among the subjects stressed in courses that enhance awareness of the diverse ways literature works across time.

The Methods Requirement

Courses in this category highlight a variety of methods, critical paradigms and theories for reading and analyzing literature, language and culture. They are intended to help students think self-consciously and systematically about tools and methods that can be applied broadly within the discipline. Students should take a methods course before the end of their sophomore year.

The Creative Practice Requirement

Creative practice courses engage directly with the art of literary production as a study of craft and the creative process, in courses in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and other genres. Students may fulfill this requirement in other departments through the intensive study of science and nature writing, playwriting, screenwriting, translation, graphic literature, book arts, songwriting, spoken word arts and other verbal forms. Because of the transformative possibilities that the creative practice requirement may open up, we strongly encourage students to undertake this requirement as early as possible, preferably within their first two years of study. 

The Diversity Requirement

Courses in this category focus substantively on one or more categories of difference, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, class and ability. These courses engage issues of power and inequality and issues of representation and social justice. Students should use their diversity courses to investigate at least two categories of difference. 

The Capstone:

  • Advanced Workshop in Creative Writing
    Offered in one or more sections every year, this 400-level workshop is required for English majors pursuing an emphasis in creative writing. Students pursuing an emphasis in creative writing will take an advanced workshop in prose or poetry in which they work on a substantial creative project. Prerequisites for the advanced workshop include the completion of both introductory courses and the intermediate workshop.
  • Advanced Seminars in Literature
    Offered in one or more sections every year, this 400-level seminar requires students to undertake a research paper of their own design, within the context of courses that range across genres, literary periods and national borders, and engages students in a variety of critical, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts. The capstone project is a research paper of 15-17 pages. Seniors enrolled in more than one advanced seminar in their senior year may choose the seminar in which they write their capstone project.
  • The Honors Seminar
    This fall-semester seminar, required for students in the Honors Program (see below), relates works of criticism and theory to various literary texts. The course seeks to extend the range of interpretive strategies available to students as they begin a major independent project in English literature or creative writing. Enrollment limited to senior English majors in the Honors Program. Permission of instructor and department chair required.

The Capstone in English is a critical essay or creative work written as the final project in an advanced workshop, advanced seminar or honors seminar.

Requirements for the Major with Emphasis in Creative Writing

Students who major in English with an emphasis in creative writing are required to take:

  • All requirements for the regular English major.
  • Two sections of any of the following one of which must be a workshop: 
    • ENGL 200: Introduction to Fiction Writing
    • ENGL 201: Introduction to Poetry Writing 
    • ENGL 202: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing
    • ENGL 205: Creative Writing: a Multi-Genre Workshop
    • ENGL 206: Introduction to Science and Nature Writing
    • ENGL 291: Special Topics (other introductory creative-writing workshops)
    • A creative practice course in the department
    • The equivalent in other programs (with approval of the department chair)
  • One section of any of the following (no earlier than fall of the junior year):
    • ENGL 300: Intermediate Fiction Writing
    • ENGL 301: Intermediate Poetry Writing
    • ENGL 302: Intermediate Creative Nonfiction
    • ENGL 306: Intermediate Science and Nature Writing
    • ENGL 391: Special Topics (other intermediate creative-writing workshops)
    • One section in professional development. Courses in professional engagement explore dimensions of creative writing practice, craft or form. Courses include:
      • ENGL 308: Literary Citizenship 
      • 300-level literature courses in the genre
  • Advanced Workshop in Creative Writing or ENGL 497 The Honors Seminar.

Students pursuing the creative writing emphasis must take at least two of their three primary workshops (200- and 300-level) at Kenyon.

Enrolling in ENGL 200, 201 and 202 (Creative Writing)
Students are eligible to register for 200-level courses beginning in the spring semester of their first year and should enroll in only one 200-level creative writing course at a time. A number of seats will be reserved for students in each class year (i.e., sophomores, juniors and seniors in the fall, and all four class years in the spring). 

Enrolling in ENGL 300, 301 and 302 (Creative Writing)
Admission to all 300-level creative writing workshops is by application involving submission of a writing sample and permission of the instructor. Creative writing courses are open to non-majors as well as majors, but students are required to have completed at least one intro class in the genre in which they are applying. For specific course offerings, sample requirements and submission deadlines, contact the English department's administrative assistant.

Requirements for the Minor

English minors are required to complete a minimum of five courses offered or approved by the department. Students must take one course in each of the three historical periods (pre-1700, 1700-1900 and 1900-present) and two additional courses, one of which may be English 103 or 104. At least two of the total five courses must be at the 300 level or above. If necessary, one course taken off campus may apply toward the minor (with the permission of the department chair). See above for more information about the historical period requirement.

The Capstone

The capstone in English is a substantial research paper or creative project completed in the context of the Advanced Workshop, Advanced Seminar or Honors Seminar. English majors must pass the seminar or workshop to complete the capstone.


Students of demonstrated ability who would like to undertake more independent work are encouraged to apply for the Honors Program. To be considered for the Honors Program, students must have a 3.5 grade-point average in their English courses and a 3.3 grade-point average overall, and submit a two-page proposal by mid-August. Further information, including deadlines and the process, is provided at an information session in late April.

The Honors Program in English consists of the following three senior-year courses:

  • Fall Semester
    • ENGL 497: Senior Honors and ENGL 493: Individual Study
  • Spring Semester
    • ENGL 498: Senior Honors

Honors students begin their honors work in the fall-semester individual study (ENGL 493) and the seminar (ENGL 497) and complete their honors work in the individual study course in the spring (ENGL 498). During this process, honors candidates are responsible for:

  • A thesis in the form of a substantial critical essay of 50+ pages in length or a creative project of commensurate scope, evaluated by the department and an examiner from outside Kenyon.
  • A reflection paper, five to seven pages, discussing a list of texts developed in consultation with the advisor
  • An oral exam on both the thesis and the reflection paper, conducted by the outside examiner

Please consult the department chair or administrative assistant for details. Detailed and complete information about the Honors Program is also available on the English department website.

Kenyon-Exeter Program

The department directs a yearlong program of study at the University of Exeter in England for junior majors and non-majors who qualify for admission. A member of our department teaches at the university, conducts seminars for Kenyon students, leads numerous co-curricular excursions and administers the program. See the director of the Center for Global Engagement or the department chair for more information.

Transfer Credit Policy

Students wishing to transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere must petition the department before taking the courses in question. At its discretion, the department may award a maximum of one course as an elective toward the English major for a journalism course taken at another institution.

Advanced Placement

AP credit cannot satisfy any of the requirements for the English major or minor.