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Literature Minor Frequently Asked Questions

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How should I start the English Minor?

Your first step should be to begin with an "Historical Breadth" course.

Your second step should be to take a second Historical Breadth course and English 300, either concurrently or in quick succession. It’s okay to take English 300 with one Historical Breadth course under your belt.

Your third step should be to begin taking 300-level English literature courses. It’s best to begin these advanced courses after you’ve completed English 300. English 300 teaches you how to write the standard eight-page analytical paper required for most 300-level literature classes.

Under the old major requirements, can I take a “mixed” sequence, i.e. one quarter of English Literary Traditions and one quarter of American Literary Traditions?

Under the old minor requirements, yes. From the four introductory courses for the English minor (210-1, 210-2, 270-1, 270-2), you must take either 210-1 OR 270-1 and any one of the three remaining courses. In other words, you may take any two of the four courses except the combination 210-2 and 270-2. The two courses can be taken in any order.

Under the new major requirements, English 210-1, -2 and English 270-1, -2 are not required, but do count as Historical Breadth courses.

When should I take English 300?

As early as possible in your career as an English minor. English 300 teaches you how to write the standard eight-page analytical paper required for most 300-level literature classes. Taking it early on will save you lots of painful trial and error! By the same logic, the class will probably seem pretty pointless if you put it off until right before graduation.


I’ve enjoyed my 300-level English courses, but now I’m ready for a greater challenge. What should be my next step?

Consider applying for an independent study (English 399), in which you work with a faculty member on a topic of your choice. 

Independent studies are open to senior English literature minors with strong departmental records. A student who wishes to pursue an independent study must find a faculty sponsor for his or her project and submit a completed application before the end of Registration Week. The application should include a substantial syllabus, including reading assignments and due dates for writing assignments. Any member of the English department faculty may sponsor a 399 project. Teaching assistants are not eligible to guide Independent Study projects.

Are there any other possibilities?

Exceptional undergraduate English minors are sometimes allowed to enroll in graduate-level literature courses. If you’re interested, consult with the course instructor and the DUS.


When should I start taking 300-level English literature courses?

As soon as you’ve taken English 300 (see above).

Do all of my additional literature courses have to be at the 300 level?

No.  One may be at the 200-level.

Can a literature course taken outside the English Department count as an additional literature course?

Literature courses taught by English Department faculty in other departments may count toward the literature minor. In addition, you may count up to one 300-level course in comparative literature toward the English literature minor.

Can I receive credit for two different versions of the same course?

You can receive credit for different versions of courses with general titles such as “English 378: Studies in American Literature” as long as each version of the course has a distinct topic. If you aren’t sure whether topics are sufficiently distinct, consult the course instructor or the DUS.

Can I count a composition course (e.g., English 205, 304, 305) or a creative writing course (e.g. English 206, 207, 208) towards the English literature minor? What about Chicago Field Studies?

No.  Only literature courses count towards the English literature minor.

Can I count a study abroad course as a core course?

You can count up to one study abroad course in English literature or Comparative literature towards the English literature minor. These courses must be approved by the DUS as equivalent in rigor to NU’s 300-level literature courses. As a rule of thumb, equivalent courses generally assign at least five novels (or a comparable amount of drama, poetry, etc.) and at least fifteen pages of critical writing.

Can I count an Independent Study (English 399) as a core course?

Yes. You can count one Independent Study towards the English minor.

Can I count courses taken at other institutions towards the English minor?

The DUS evaluates courses taken at other institutions on a case-by-case basis. In order to be considered for English department credit, courses must be equivalent in rigor to NU English courses, and must be taken face-to-face rather than online.
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