The Department of English houses Old Westbury’s Writing Programs and offers the Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. Building on common foundations, this degree offers two upper-level specializations: Multicultural U.S.-British Literature and World Literature.
At the Foundations level, requirements recognize the importance of firm grounding in Language Arts and Literary Interpretation. These emphases correlate with stress on skills foundations in current pedagogy. The Linguistic Foundations requirement recognizes the centrality of strong training in the history and structure of language as well as the formal grammar of English.
The Literary Analysis requirement offers training in literary interpretation, close reading, knowledge of literary genres, social and historical contextualization of literature, and literary theory, today a sine qua non of competitive literature degrees. A three-course sequence in Literary Traditions includes historical surveys of British, U.S., European, and World literature and selected courses in classical foundations, genres, and such recent topics as postcolonialism.
The Multicultural US/British Literature Specialization is rooted in recent trends in literary theory and interpretation, which view U.S./British literature as expressing diverse national, cultural, and gender perspectives within a common tradition. Multicultural U.S./British Literature includes texts from both the U.S. and U.K. by writers of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, classes, and ability/disability status. Multicultural literature focuses on the complexity of two countries in which people of many different cultures cohabit. Such fields as African American Literature, Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, Women’s Literature, and Lesbian and Gay Literature, increasingly prominent in English studies since 1990, form the core of this specialization. This specialization enhances the competitiveness of students applying to graduate English programs or continuing to a variety of careers.
The World Literature Specialization studies literature in English from outside the U.S./U.K. as well as other literatures in translation. This specialization speaks to the increasing integration of international literary culture and to an increasing emphasis on global culture. It is directly relevant to the sizeable number of Old Westbury students from postcolonial English speaking cultures and to others with an interest in world culture. It helps prepare students for graduate study in such fields as Postcolonial Studies, the Literature of the African Diaspora, and others, and for varied careers.
The Senior Seminar requirement offers an integrated capstone experience for students in this degree program. The Senior Seminar requirement begins with Senior Seminar I—research and Writing, an intensive preparation for the Senior Thesis including study of advanced research methods, seminar presentations, and a semester-length writing project. Senior Seminar II—Thesis provides a semester-long thesis writing project with a common curriculum of reading and research.