Our course

ENGL 299.03: Introduction to English Studies
Spring 2017
TR 1:40-2:55
MYBK 220

Introduction to English Studies is a writing-intensive course for English majors as you move from 200-level introductory courses to 300-level classes; it is designed to guide you through the field of English Studies and to offer assistance in the transition to upper-level coursework.

Through this course, you’ll gain a heightened understanding of the field of English, particularly in terms of textual interpretation and disciplinary identity. You will also be equipped with an array of practical research and writing strategies all English majors should know for effective work in upper-level classes and beyond.

In the process, we will encounter myriad—at times competing—approaches to and concepts driving textual interpretation, and their respective insights and limitations. We’ll investigate the influence of literary, cultural, and social conventions on acts of interpretation and the reciprocal impact of such interpretation on literature, culture, and society. Professors representing different specialties in English Studies will introduce you to the expectations and delights of their scholarly work, inviting you to the discipline in its many varieties.

From this shared focus on textual interpretation and disciplinary identity, you will gain a detailed understanding of what English specialists do and how they do it. You will be positioned to make your way through the requirements of the major here at the College of Charleston, having encountered models for thinking about, interpreting, researching, and producing texts.

We will begin the semester considering approaches that are familiar to us and historicizing those, bearing in mind ways they have served the modern discipline of English Studies. We will position those observations in relation to a range of theoretical concerns and approaches that have developed over the past century and more. From there, we will investigate key concepts and approaches of contemporary English studies, using as our sample text Geoffrey Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, which has intrigued readers consistently for centuries. In the second half of the course we will exercise the various ingredients of a successful research project, performing key steps with deliberateness.

The smaller class size of ENGL 299 encourages workshops, discussion, and exchange among majors as you consider the tools you’ve acquired and the techniques you’ve experienced through your lower-level coursework and how you might deploy—and develop—them in the future.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • Demonstrated a knowledge of approaches to and concepts driving textual interpretation as well as aesthetic, cultural, and social conventions that influence acts of interpretation
  • Applied various methodological and critical approaches to literature
  • Demonstrated familiarity with research conventions in English Studies, including the building of skills related to summary, annotation, analysis, and evaluation of primary and secondary sources
  • Produced a research-based, multiple-draft essay that analyzes key elements of a cultural text of the student’s own choosing. This essay gives the opportunity to practice key parts of the essay, which include title, introduction, thesis statement, literature review, close-reading capstone, and conclusion.

Required Texts:

Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux. The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.
ISBN: 0-7425-7050-4
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath. Ed Peter G. Beidler. Bedford Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Bedford, 1996.
ISBN: 978-0312111281







The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Ross C. Murfin and Supryia M. Ray. 3rd ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.
ISBN: 0-312-46188-7










MLA Handbook. 8th ed. NY: Modern Languages Association, 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-60329-262-7