New English Programs FAQ

Who will be affected?

All students in these programs, no matter what year they entered Geneseo, will graduate under the new major. Some of the courses that were required under the old programs will no longer exist; others may not be offered often enough for students to take them in time to graduate on schedule. Course numbers will be completely revised and will run from the 100 level to the 400 level. Completing the old major will become exceedingly difficult if not impossible. It will be necessary for all students to move to the new programs in spring 2014.

400-level courses? Won't those be hard?

No harder than the current 300-level courses. Like many of the courses currently offered at the 300 level, the new 400-level courses will treat topics and writers in depth. Courses at the 300 level will be similar in design to those currently at the 200 level. The 100 level will consist mainly of courses open to both majors and non-majors.

If I started under one of the current programs, will the new one add to the requirements I have to meet?

It shouldn't. In general, all the new programs have fewer requirements than the old ones, allowing students more choice in their selection of courses. Giving students greater freedom to pursue their interests is one aim of these program revisions. In the rare case where a new program asks you to complete a requirement that didn't apply to you under the old program, you should contact the department chair to seek a waiver of the requirement.

If you're in the literature track or you're an Education major with an English concentration, our handy flowchart will help you figure out how our existing coursework will translate to the new requirements. (Concentrators: the flowchart items most relevant to you are the ones concerning ENGL 170/203, the three historical periods, and the number of courses required at each course level.)

One requirement of the new programs — self-reflective advising (described below) — will be optional for all students who began their programs before fall 2014.

Another requirement — a new prerequisite course numbered ENGL 203 and titled "Reader and Text: (Subtitle)" — will only be required of students who have not already taken ENGL 170, "The Practice of Criticism." If you've already taken ENGL 170, you will not have to take ENGL 203.

Students who began their programs before fall 2014 will not have to complete the total number of hours in the new programs (e.g., 40 in English/Literature) as long as they have met all other requirements in the new programs. This provision ensures that ENGL 170, for example, serves as a true equivalent for ENGL 203, even though the former course is worth 3 credits and the latter worth 4.

How will the new programs be different?

To begin with, as of spring 2014 all courses in English will be worth 4 credits. The reason for this change is explained below. To offset the increase in the number of credits per course, the number of courses to be completed in each program will decrease. For example, the BA in English/Literature currently requires a student to complete 12 three-credit courses, for a total of 36 hours. The new BA in English /Literature requires the student to take 10 four-credit courses, for a total of 40 hours.

Can you help me compare the current programs and the new ones?

You'll find a table comparing current and new versions of each program here.

Why have the programs changed?

The move to 4-credit courses is intended to give faculty the opportunity to treat course content in greater depth, and to make more space for active learning both within and outside the classroom through such means as in-class writing workshops, individual and small-group student-faculty conferences, collaborative web projects, online discussion, and service learning in the community. At the same time, this move will enable many majors to reduce their course load from 5 courses to 4 most semesters; as a result, they should be able to devote more attention to each course.

The new requirements represent an attempt to build the student's course of study on answers to a handful of basic questions: What is it that we do in "English" or "Comparative Literature" or "Film Studies"? What skills must students possess in order to do it? What must they know? What skills and knowledge are more fundamental and must therefore be developed earliest? And finally: How can a program of study give each student maximum flexibility to combine disciplinary skills and knowledge with his or her own emerging interests and career goals?

The programs we've built are all designed to help students become informed, critical readers of texts — including, but not limited to, printed texts — capable of engaging in closely reasoned, evidence-based discussion about those texts in a variety of media — including, but not limited to, the written essay. They're also designed to give students a wide range of choice in the texts they study, while simultaneously prompting students to make these choices thoughtfully and to find patterns of meaning across the courses in which the texts are encountered.

In English/Creative Writing, the program is designed, as well, to help students progress from more general to more specific capabilities as practitioners of writing as a craft.

In both English/Literature and English/Creative Writing, courses are designed to help students meet overall program learning outcomes in stages. Each course level focuses on particular outcomes, as enumerated above.

What is the self-reflective advising requirement, and how will it affect me?

"Self-reflective advising" describes a new requirement that applies only to majors in English and related programs who enrolled at SUNY Geneseo in fall 2014 or later. For all other students, it's optional.

The purpose of the requirement is twofold: first, to help students choose courses that align with their developing interests and future plans, and second, to help them make connections among their courses at several points in their passage through the major.

Students engage in self-reflective advising by sketching out some preliminary goals in writing soon after becoming majors, then writing down their reflections on patterns of meaning among their courses on a designated timetable. The final reflection should be an effort to look back on the whole experience of majoring in the student's chosen program. What was learned? How did it all fit together? What new directions of thought has it prompted?

Students will do their self-reflective writing on the web, in a space where it can be seen by their advisers, who will attempt to offer guidance informed by what their advisees say about their interests and learning. Students will have the option to share their reflections with a wider audience, too: selected individuals in the Geneseo network, for example, or the world at large.

Students are encouraged to download the contents of their reflective self-advising record when they graduate for use in preparing for job interviews.

What happened to the English department's film courses? I don't see them in KnightWeb or the Master Schedule!

For the most part, courses in film are now being offered under the FMST (Film Studies) prefix. You'll find these courses listed separately under this prefix in KnightWeb and the Master Schedule.

FMST courses may be used interchangeably with ENGL courses in fulfillment of English major and minor.

What if I have more questions?

We expect that many questions will arise during the transition to the new programs in English, Comparative Literature, and Film Studies. Your adviser should be able to answer most of them. In addition, you can always search or post to the English Programs Support Forum.