Online English Major

We now offer our English Major 100% online. All requirements are the same for on-campus and on-line degrees. You graduate with a Bachelor’s in English.

Online major at a glance:  See Mizzou Online for information about degree, tuition, how to apply, and more.

What are the requirements for the English Major? 
  • See English Major for a full description of the steps towards earning your BA in English.
What online classes can I take to fulfill these requirements?
  • The following asynchronous online courses are offered on a rotating basis. Each description specifies which requirements the course fulfills. 
  • Additional online courses, including synchronous courses with scheduled online meetings, are also offered each semester. You can find these by searching Myzou for “100% e-learning” courses in English.
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English 2100: Writing about Literature (3 credits)
  • Semester-based: Spring 2020
  • Instructor: Associate Professor Frances Dickey

This required course for English majors provides instruction in the fundamentals of writing about literature, including literary research, interpretation, and criticism. The theme of our readings is “the city,” as we explore changing representations of city life in English and American fiction, poetry, and nonfiction over the last two centuries. A primary goal of the course is to familiarize students with a variety of critical and theoretical approaches that are used in the study of literature. Students will practice these methods in online discussion posts and responses, and short writing assignments, building up through preliminary exercises to a research paper of 8-10 pages. Prerequisite: ENGL 1000 or equivalent, sophomore standing.

Breadth of Study

Students take at least 1 course from each of the following areas at the 3000-level and above. (9 credits)

a. Period Studies and Surveys

Courses in this area examine texts in their historical context and consider how historical events and developments shape culture and texts. Choose one of the following courses

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English 3200: British Literature Beginnings to 1784
  • Self-paced: all semesters
  • Instructor: Associate Teaching Professor Penny Smith-Parris
  • also fulfills pre-1890 requirement

Historical survey from beginnings of British literature through the age of Johnson, with readings representing significant writers, works, and currents of thought. The purpose of the course is to survey the development of English literature from its beginning in the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century and the beginnings of romanticism. Major readings include Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Course assignments include four progress checks consisting of brief essays (3-4 pages) and two major essay exams (midterm and final).

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English 3210: British Literature, Romanticism to the Present
  • Self-paced: all semesters
  • Instructor: Associate Teaching Professor Kim McCaffrey

This 100% online survey course provides a historical perspective on the development of British literature in the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods. It focuses on the shifting values and attitudes that define these eras—cultural, political, economic, artistic, and literary. Subjects include women’s rights, ideas of democracy, and issues of colonialism, among others. The course includes 13 assignments and 3 exams, which combine short answers and essays. Our text is The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 2.

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English 3300W: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865
  • Semester-based: Summer
  • Instructor: Associate Professor Alexandra Socarides
  • also fulfills pre-1890 and English diversity requirements, as well as A&S Writing Intensive requirement

This course will provide a survey of American literature between the colonial period and the Civil War. We will read in a wide variety of genres – poetry, sermons, autobiography, essays, songs, letters, journalism, and political tracts – paying close attention to how writers used the conventions of these genres to meet their particular personal, aesthetic, and political goals. Writers will include but not be limited to: Smith, Bradford, Bradstreet, Rowlandson, Edwards, Franklin, Occum, Equiano, Jefferson, Wheatley, Irving, Schoolcraft, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson. Along the way, we will focus on issues such as colonization, slavery, women’s rights, nature, magic, and individualism. Course assignments will include weekly papers, responses to your peers’ papers, and two revisions. This is a WI course and is conducted entirely online.

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English 3310: American Literature from 1865 to the Present
  • Self-paced: All semesters
  • Instructor: Teaching Professor Dana Kinnison

On the MU campus, English 3310 is one of the most popular courses offered to undergraduates by the English department. Chief among the appeals is the literature itself. Students read works by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Alice Walker, and others. Though the structure of the course is chronological, beginning with the post-Civil War era and coming up to recent times, the works are grouped to reflect themes and stylistic developments of various periods. This survey course is an opportunity to examine American cultural history and better understand the human condition. Assignments consist of four 1500-word essay responses to questions, a midterm, and final exam.

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English 3400W: African American Literature to 1900
  • Semester-based: 8-week course in Fall semester
  • Instructor: Associate Professor April Langley
  • also fulfills pre-1890 and English diversity requirements, as well as A&S Writing Intensive and Diversity [DI] requirements

This (8-week) online writing intensive course introduces students to the major developments, themes, and works of African American literature from the arrival of enslaved people from the continent of Africa through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and their post-enslavement as de facto slaves and half-citizens. Specifically, we explore African American literature's continuing response to the call of African, American, and Afro-British American oral and written traditions in the form of folktales, songs, sermons, prose, and poetry, and examines the social, political, and cultural influences of early African-American literature. This summer online course is both fast paced and fun, with short mini-lectures (15 min or less) and diverse reading of literature across many genres, contemporary videos and classic documentaries that add to your interdisciplinary knowledge of literature. Assignments include reading responses, video viewing responses, discussion board peer responses, revisions, and a Final essay with drafts. Students are advised to prepare for this writing intensive course by taking English 1000 in advance. Note: This course meets several requirements for the College of Arts and Science, English and Black Studies Departments: Writing Intensive, Humanities, Diversity Intensive, and other major/minor requirements.

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English 4140: Transatlantic Modernism
  • Semester-based: Spring
  • Instructor: Associate Professor Frances Dickey
  • also fulfills English diversity requirement)

This course explores the literature of “Modernism,” a period of cultural upheaval from 1900 through World War I (1914-18) and the 1920’s in the United States and Great Britain. During this time artists and writers launched a program of experimentation that challenged long-held conventions of form and content. We begin with the avant-garde movements of the pre-war period, such as Cubism, Futurism, and Imagism, which revolutionized artistic styles and the relationship of writer to audience. Then we examine the social impact and literary representation of World War I, one of the century’s most cataclysmic events, and finally conclude with a unit on the Harlem Renaissance. Authors studied include Joseph Conrad, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, and other greats. In examining how women and writers of color found their voices and made their mark on early twentieth-century culture, this course also fulfills the English diversity requirement for the English major. Written assignments include discussion board posts and responses, short essays, two tests, and a final project.

b. Author Studies

Courses in this area focus on an individual or several authors or artists. Choose one of the following courses:

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    English 4220: Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
    • Semester-based: Fall
    • Instructor: Associate Professor William Kerwin
    • only class that also fulfills the pre-1603 requirement

    In this course we will read seven plays by William Shakespeare. Each one will be introduced with a particular literary or historical focus, and then we will proceed act-by-act, asking specific questions about the play’s language and the thematic concerns. We will look at film clips of a range of productions and adaptations of the plays, and we will also look at several poems by other authors that can shed light on the poetic approaches and social issues found in our seven plays. Students will respond to prompts for discussion exchanges, write short essays on each play, and then write a longer essay at the end of the course.

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    English 4188: Major Women Authors, 1789-1890: The Brontë Sisters
    • Semester-based: Spring
    • Instructor: Associate Professor Elizabeth Chang
    • also fulfills pre-1890 and English diversity requirements

    This class will introduce you to the greatest literary family of the nineteenth century and to some of the greatest novels written in English, not to mention some very complicated and dramatic family history. We will read novels by three of the Brontë sisters as well as some of the siblings’ writings from childhood. We will also learn about the creation and dismantling of the Brontë myth, and about the current critical assessment of each of the sisters. Along the way, we will also discuss Victorian literature, culture, and the history of women’s writing in nineteenth-century Britain more generally.

    c. Genre or Thematic Studies

    Genre Studies introduces students to one literary “kind”—such as the novel, poetry, drama, the essay—its conventions, and its history. Thematic Studies explores a shared theme among works that may or may not belong to the same period. Choose one of the following courses:

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      English 4140: Transatlantic Modernism
      • also fulfills English diversity requirement
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      English 4220: Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
      • also fulfills the pre-1603 requirement
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      English 4188: Major Authors, 1789-1890: The Brontë Sisters
      • also fulfills pre-1890 and English diversity requirements
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      English 4179: The Global Novel after 1945
      • Semester-based: Summer
      • Instructor: Associate Professor Sheri-Marie Harrison
      • fulfills English diversity requirement and A&S Diversity [DI] requirement

      In the Global Novel after 1945 students will study a variety of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces three major theoretical developments of the global novel during this period: world literature, the postcolonial novel, and the global novel. We will read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions (1988), Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah (2013), and Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013) along with critical writing on each of the theoretical developments. Our focus will be on the relationship between writers and readers, innovations in the novel form, fiction’s engagement with history and politics, and the changing place of national literature in the world.

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      English 4510: Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction
      • Semester-based: Summer
      • Instructor: Professor Phong Nguyen
      • Prerequisite: English 1510  Creative Writing: Introduction to Fiction or another Creative Writing course

      In this course, students will learn advanced fiction-writing techniques and approaches, such as drawing connections between disparate elements within a story. To that end, this course will introduce students to single-author short story collections and, in some cases, novels. In addition to undertaking close reading and generative writing exercises, students are encouraged to enter into a wider literary context, positioning their work in dialogue with published fiction of the past, present, and future.

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      English 4530: Creative Writing: Advanced Poetry
      • Semester-based: Fall (second 8-week session)
      • Instructor: Assistant Professor Gabriel Fried
      • Prerequisite: English 1510  Creative Writing: Introduction to Fiction or another Creative Writing course

      In this course, students will develop their skills of poetic craft and voice, taking up approaches and modes that expand on what poems can do or be. This will likely include more daring engagement with prosody/poetic form, as well as the creation of interconnected poetic sequences. Throughout, we will pay close attention to the relationship between the textual (written) poem and its vocalization (performance). Over the semester, we will consider and learn from published examples of ambitious, surprising poems. We will also read and respond to several chapbooks or full-length books in order to deepen our sense of how poems by the same poet may interact with one another within a published volume.  

      d. Theory and Methods

      Courses in this category give primary attention to the frame of inquiry and/or the method by which knowledge-making takes place. Choose one of the following courses:

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        English 4610: History of the English Language
        • Self-paced: every semester
        • Instructor: Professor Matthew Gordon

        This course examines the history of English from the prehistoric roots that bind it to other languages of Europe and Asia, through the period of its earliest attestation, and into the modern era. We can see that English has undergone dramatic alterations throughout its life, and the class considers changes in sounds, grammar, meaning, and vocabulary. To understand these changes and why they occur, we look for explanations in both the structure of the language and in the social history of its speakers. The course approaches the subject from the perspective of modern linguistics, a field whose theories and analytical methods differ somewhat from other areas of English. There is one main textbook for this course with additional readings available online. Grading for this self-paced course is based on 16 progress evaluations and 4 exams.

         

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        English 4970W: Capstone Experience
        • Semester based: Spring
        • Instructor: Maureen Konkle
        • Satisfies Capstone requirement
        • For students in their last semester, this course focuses on a major project and the processes of selection, research, and writing leading to its completion. Includes a unit on careers and professionalization (resume, cover letter).

        Historical Coverage

        Students take 3 courses (9 credits) across historical periods, including one on literature prior to 1603. Courses may also fulfill other requirements at the same time.

        One course on literature before 1603: 

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        English 4220 Shakespeare and Renaissance Lit
        • Semester-based: Fall
        • Instructor: Associate Professor William Kerwin
        • currently the ONLY course that fulfills this requirement

        In this course we will read seven plays by William Shakespeare. Each one will be introduced with a particular literary or historical focus, and then we will proceed act-by-act, asking specific questions about the play’s language and the thematic concerns. We will look at film clips of a range of productions and adaptations of the plays, and we will also look at several poems by other authors that can shed light on the poetic approaches and social issues found in our seven plays. Students will respond to prompts for discussion exchanges, write short essays on each play, and then write a longer essay at the end of the course.

        Two other courses on literature written prior to 1890:

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        English 3200: British Literature, Beginnings to 1784
        • Self-paced: all semesters
        • Instructor: Associate Teaching Professor Penny Smith-Parris

        Historical survey from beginnings of British literature through the age of Johnson, with readings representing significant writers, works, and currents of thought. The purpose of the course is to survey the development of English literature from its beginning in the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century and the beginnings of romanticism. Major readings include Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Course assignments include four progress checks consisting of brief essays (3-4 pages) and two major essay exams (midterm and final).

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        English 3300W: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865
        • Semester-based: Summer
        • Instructor: varies

        This course will provide a survey of American literature between the colonial period and the Civil War. We will read in a wide variety of genres – poetry, sermons, autobiography, essays, songs, letters, journalism, and political tracts – paying close attention to how writers used the conventions of these genres to meet their particular personal, aesthetic, and political goals. Writers will include but not be limited to: Smith, Bradford, Bradstreet, Rowlandson, Edwards, Franklin, Occum, Equiano, Jefferson, Wheatley, Irving, Schoolcraft, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson. Along the way, we will focus on issues such as colonization, slavery, women’s rights, nature, magic, and individualism. Course assignments will include weekly papers, responses to your peers’ papers, and two revisions. This is a WI course and is conducted entirely online.

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        English 3400W: African American Literature to 1900
        • Semester-based: 8-week course in Fall semester
        • Instructor: Associate Professor April Langley

        This (8-week) online writing intensive course introduces students to the major developments, themes, and works of African American literature from the arrival of enslaved people from the continent of Africa through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and their post-enslavement as de facto slaves and half-citizens. Specifically, we explore African American literature's continuing response to the call of African, American, and Afro-British American oral and written traditions in the form of folktales, songs, sermons, prose, and poetry, and examines the social, political, and cultural influences of early African-American literature. This summer online course is both fast paced and fun, with short mini-lectures (15 min or less) and diverse reading of literature across many genres, contemporary videos and classic documentaries that add to your interdisciplinary knowledge of literature. Assignments include reading responses, video viewing responses, discussion board peer responses, revisions, and a Final essay with drafts. Students are advised to prepare for this writing intensive course by taking English 1000 in advance. Note: This course meets several requirements for the College of Arts and Science, English and Black Studies Departments: Writing Intensive, Humanities, Diversity Intensive, and other major/minor requirements.

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        English 4188: Major Authors, 1789-1890: The Brontë Sisters
        • Semester-based: Spring
        • Instructor: Associate Professor Elizabeth Chang

        This class will introduce you to the greatest literary family of the nineteenth century and to some of the greatest novels written in English, not to mention some very complicated and dramatic family history. We will read novels by three of the Brontë sisters as well as some of the siblings’ writings from childhood. We will also learn about the creation and dismantling of the Brontë myth, and about the current critical assessment of each of the sisters. Along the way, we will also discuss Victorian literature, culture, and the history of women’s writing in nineteenth-century Britain more generally.

        Depth of Study

        Students must take 3 courses (9 credits) in a single area of specialization. We currently offer three areas, though more may become available:

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        18th and 19th Century Literature

        Choose 3:

        • English 3200: British Literature Beginnings to 1784
        • English 3210: British Literature, Romanticism to the Present
        • English 3300W: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865
        • English 3400W: African American Literature to 1900
        • English 4188: Major Authors, 1789-1890: The Brontë Sisters
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        20th and 21st Century Literature

        Choose 3:

        • English 2009: Pop Culture Film
        • English 2150: Literature of Baseball
        • English 2150: Tolkien
        • English 3210: British Literature, Romanticism to the Present
        • English 3310: American Literature, 1865 to the Present
        • English 4140: Transatlantic Modernism
        • English 4179: The Global Novel
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        Gender and Sexuality

        Select the following 3 courses:

        • English 3300W: American Literature, Beginnings to 1865
        • English 4140: Transatlantic Modernism
        • English 4188: Major Authors, 1789-1890: The Brontë Sisters

        Diversity

        Students must meet the English Diversity Requirement by taking a single course that focuses on issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Courses that satisfy this requirement include 2159, 3300W, 3400W, 4100, 4188, 4140, and 4197. The College of A&S also has its own diversity requirement, which is fulfilled by 3400W and possibly others TBA.

        Capstone

        All students must take English 4970W, which includes research skills and a careers component.

        Writing Intensive

        The College of A&S also has a Writing Intensive requirement, which can be satisfied within English by taking the capstone (4970W) and one other WI course.

        Electives

        Online students may also choose from the following electives at the 1000 and 2000 level. Keep in mind that of the minimum required 30 credit hours in English, 24 must be at the 3000 level and above, plus the required course English 2100, so that only one other lower-level course is needed to fulfill the 30 credit hours for completing the English major, though up to 40 credit hours may be counted for the major.

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        English 1310: Introduction to American Literature
        • Self-paced: every semester
        • Instructor: Teaching Professor Dana Kinnison

        A basic introduction to the concepts, terms, and practices commonly encountered in literary study, presented by way of texts from the history of American literature that appropriately demonstrate such concepts, terms, and practices. This course is recommended for prospective English majors. Graded on A/F basis only.

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        English 1510: Introduction to Fiction Writing
        • Self-paced: every semester
        • Instructor: Dr. Darren Pine

        This self-paced course introduces the fundamentals of writing fiction. We will explore the building blocks that make up a story: significant detail, characterization, fictional time, plot, perspective, dialogue, setting, and revision. This course comprises eight lessons during which we will read two short novels- Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - along with our textbook, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway, and several short stories in The Seagull Book of Stories. Each lesson will include responses to the reading as well as creative writing exercises, culminating in the creation of your own short story.

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        English 2009: Studies in English, 1890 to the Present: Pop Culture Film
        • Self-paced: every semester
        • Instructor: Sam Stowers

        This course examines the role of men and masculine identity at the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures. It traces a history of filmic connections between Asian and American models of masculinity by examining recent Hollywood action films alongside more subtle contemplations of Asian-American identities, as well as comparing American Westerns with Japanese Samurai films that define masculinity as a warrior's life.

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        English 2150: Popular Literature: The Literature of Baseball
        • Semester-based: summer
        • Instructor: Dr. Marc McKee

        Baseball is commonly hailed as the most literary of sports. Over the past century, it has been represented in countless novels, stories, poems, and plays, and has spawned its own brand of essay and memoir. This course is a survey of literature about baseball. Through reading assorted literary works (as opposed to sports writing) in a variety of genres, we will consider why baseball has been such a prevalent muse for such a variety of American writers and how it has been represented, while honing our skills as writers about literature. As we do so, we will discuss the ways in which these writers use baseball as a context to portray other aspects of American life and culture. Weekly assignments include one or two on-line posts and responses to the posts of others. (All coursework will be conducted on-line).

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        English 2150: Popular Literature: Tolkien
        • Self-paced: every semester
        • Instructor: Dr. Darren Pine

        This self-paced course studies the literary genre of fantasy, with specific emphasis on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, his major accounts of the mythical land of Middle-earth. We will read each of these works over the course of seven lessons and look at little closer at the man who wrote them, focusing upon how he explored universal themes of morality, greed, the corrupting influence of power, the value of good stewardship, the importance of free will and the redeeming power of an open heart. For each lesson, the student will submit a short (2-3 page) essay and will keep a reading journal. There will also be midterm and final exams.

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        English 2159: Introduction to World Literatures
        • Semester-based: Spring, first 8-week session
        • Instructor: Professor Karen Piper
        • Satisfies department diversity requirement

        In this course, we will read some of the best contemporary writers from around the world--including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We will also learn about the history and culture of many different parts of the world, including their conflicts, politics, and world-changing events. By the end of the class, you will have improved your skills in cross-cultural communication, which is a helpful addition to any resume. You will also gain a better understanding of how the U.S. fits into conversations occurring around the world, getting a glimpse of how we are viewed from outside our borders. We will be reading selections from The Norton Anthology of World Literature for the course. 

        Contact

        Frances Dickey
        Director of Online Programs
        dickeyf@missouri.edu