The Willamette English Department unveiled a revamp to the major that includes significant differences in course offerings and thesis projects. Professor Danielle Deulen invited prospective and current English majors and minors to an event on March 12 to discuss the changes.
Previously, the major included two core classes for the literature track and three for creative writing — each track included Close Reading and Introduction to Literary Theory, while creative writing also had Fundamentals of Creative Writing. Close Reading has been replaced by a new course titled Reading Literature and Culture.
“There will be offered multiple sections of those courses and each will have a different focus, whatever the instructor’s specialty is,” said Deulen.
Next semester, there will be three sections — Language and Power, Black Women Writers and SciFi and Social Justice.
Historically, both Introduction to Creative Writing and Fundamentals of Creative Writing have been available to students. These classes have shown to be similar, so the new major has compressed them into one class, now titled Creative Writing Fundamentals. This class is open to majors and non-majors alike.
With the combination of these classes and the fact that creative writing students are no longer required to take a literary theory course, they can now easily fit all three 300-level workshop-focused creative writing classes into their schedules. Currently, most creative writing majors have taken both Introduction and Fundamentals of Creative Writing, leaving only one open slot for a higher-level writing class.
All of the mentioned changes are to make 300-level classes more available.
“A lot of our majors ended up taking a lot of these lower level courses and not gaining more expertise toward their senior thesis… [Now] you have the opportunity to take more 300-level with this new major,” said Deulen.
The literature track thesis will no longer be in the form of a second semester capstone. Now, students will enroll in two 400-level classes that will conclude with the composition of a scholarly paper.
“That way you have a broader range of things to think about,” explained Deulen. “It spreads out that kind of stress over the year… And also gives you two more opportunities to write seminar papers for your eventual application to graduate school.”
A new class titled Research Methods and Literary and Cultural Analysis is estimated to be available in fall 2020. Deulen reported that she will be working on formulating this course over the summer along with Professor Mike Chasar. She said the class will contain “various methodologies” and will have aspects that lend themselves to students belonging to both tracks.
These changes have been implemented in hopes that they will make the major more “flexible,” as explained by Deulen, especially for students who want to double major.
Current students are allowed to choose which curriculum they want to follow. However, if a current student chooses the new major, they also have to follow the new general education curriculum as well.
In this time of transition, Deulen said that advisors will help students move over to the new major as smoothly as possible. For example, if someone has already taken Close Reading but wants to transition to the new major, they can use that credit in place of the new Reading Literature and Culture class. She suggested that students consult with their advisors to figure out the best route for them.