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A major program consists of at least ten courses. Six of the ten must be taken at Barnard or Columbia:

  1. BC 3193 Critical Writing (formerly called Literary Criticism & Theory).  Best taken in the sophomore year.
  2. Colloquia BC 3159 and 3160. Taken in the junior year. All sections of 3159 (fall semester) are on the Renaissance; all sections of 3160 (spring semester) are on the Enlightenment. Students may substitute 3 courses for the 2 semesters for Junior Colloquium. At least one of these 3 courses must cover material before 1660 (i.e., Medieval or Renaissance); at least one must cover material of the 17th or 18th century, and the last may cover material of either period. One of these courses will also count towards satisfying the "before 1900" requirement. Students may also take 1 colloquium and 2 substitutions. (For suggestions of specific courses, please see the English Department’s Substitutions Page.)
  3. Two courses in literature written before 1900 (Note: ONE of the Colloquium substitutions will count towards fulfillment of this requirement). For details, refer to the Substitutions Page.
  4. One additional literature course (excluding the Colloquia and the English Conference). At least 51% of the course must be on literature originally written in English.
  5. Two electives chosen from the entire English Department offering, 3103 to 3195 and V 3260, excluding the Colloquia (3159-60), the English Conference (3191), The Writer's Process (3101), and Rhetorical Choices: the Theory and Practice of Public Speaking (3123).   N.B. These include courses in writing (including screenwriting through the Film Studies program), speech, theatre, and seminars on special themes.  With the approval of the Chair of the Barnard English Department, one course based in the literature of a foreign language (in English translation or in the original language) can count as an elective.  See our page on Substitutions for more details.)
  6. Two senior seminars.  Seniors who wish to substitute Independent Study for one of the two required senior seminars should consult the chair.  Permission is given rarely and only to proposals meeting the criteria specified under the course description of BC 3999 Independent Study (4 points).  Apply by the day before the last day of Program Filing, since the computer system enabling you to register on-line updates over night.  The form can be downloaded from our Forms page and must be turned in to Lucy Coolidge in the English Department office (417 Barnard Hall.)

New requirement for English majors graduating in 2014: You must take at least one course in American Literature. It can simultaneously fulfill other requirements (elective, pre-1900, etc.) where appropriate. Taking American Literature is encouraged for, but not required of, English majors graduating in 2011, 2012, and 2013.


A minor consists of at least five English courses (three of which must be qualifying Barnard or Columbia courses): one from either Chaucer (ENGL BC 3154 or ENGL BC 3155), Shakespeare (ENTH BC 3136, ENGL BC 3163, or ENGL BC 3164), or Milton (ENGL BC 3167); two additional courses in literature before 1900 (See above #3); and two electives (See above #5).


All concentrations in the major except that in American Literature require 11 courses.

American Literature

Students interested in an American Literature concentration should consult with Professor Gordis (408d Barnard). In addition to ENGL BC 3159, ENGL BC 3160 (or appropriate substitutions), and ENGL BC 3193, an American concentration consists of either ENGL BC 3179 or ENGL BC  3180, either ENGL BC 3181 or ENGL BC 3183, one other American literature course, and one senior seminar with a focus on American literature. (The Department requires two senior seminars for the major.)


Students interested in a film concentration should consult Professor Bashir Abu-Manneh (401 D Barnard). A film concentration consists of four courses:

  1. Introduction to Film and Film Theory (FILM BC 3201 or Columbia's W 3001)
  2. A writing course, either Screenwriting (FILM BC 3119), Advanced Screenwriting (FILM BC3120) or Film Criticism
  3. A Film Senior Seminar (ENGL BC 3998, section 2 or Film)
  4. The final course, which requires approval, is a film and literature class from among specific offerings at Barnard or Columbia.

These four courses will count in place of two electives and one Senior Seminar in the regular English major.


Students interested in a theatre concentration should consult Professor Denison (Room 412 Barnard). A Theatre concentration consists of four courses: three courses, either two theatre history courses (THTR V 3150, 3151) and one dramatic literature seminar, or one theatre history course and two dramatic literature seminars; the fourth course, Special Project in Theatre (ENGL BC 3996) in combination with a dramatic literature course. These courses will count in place of two electives and one Senior Seminar in the regular English major. An eleventh course should be in dramatic literature in English, elected in consultation with the director of the Theatre concentration.


Open to a limited number of majors. Students enter the writing concentration by application only. Majors interested in being considered for the Writing Concentration should submit 15-20 pages of their writing to Dr. Timea Szell, the Director of the Creative Writing Program, by the last day of program filing (occurring in mid-April for the spring semester or in mid-November for the fall semester) in the second semester of their JUNIOR year. A writing concentration consists of at least four courses: two writing courses, of which one will be introductory (ENGL BC 3105- ENGL BC  3113 and ENGL BC  3120: Creative Non-fiction) and one advanced (ENGL BC 3114-ENGL BC 3118); a Senior project written either in a third writing course combined with a Special Project in Writing (ENGL BC 3996) or in an Independent Study (ENGL BC 3999); and a fourth course, either literature (in English or another language), or creative writing. Consult the Director of Creative Writing, Professor Szell (423 Barnard), for applicability of Columbia courses. These four courses will count in place of two electives and one Senior Seminar in the regular English major.