English 496

ENGL 496
Senior Seminar

Catalog Entry

ENGL 496. Senior Seminar (WI)
Credit Hours (3).

Prerequisites: ENGL 420 and Senior status as an English major.

The objective of this course is twofold: (1) to invite students of language, writing and literature to participate in theoretical debates surrounding the study of English; (2) to afford each student the opportunity to pursue a semester-long research project culminating in a senior essay which focuses on an interest the student has developed during prior course work.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course serves as the “capstone” course of the undergraduate major in English. It affords students the opportunity to reflect critically on the discipline of English; on how English is taught in public schools, colleges and universities; and on the role of English in contemporary society. It also offers students a chance to engage in in-depth study of a particular topic of their own choice from within the discipline of English, and to develop advanced research and writing skills in preparing a paper on their topic.

Students read from the growing body of texts concerned with English. Students contribute to the seminar’s understanding of English as a discipline by bringing to the discussion their own experiences as students and their own perspectives as prospective teachers, prospective non-teaching English professionals, creative writers and potential graduate students in English. the seminar further serves to introduce students to the professional and disciplinary issues, conflicts and debates that involve English professionals. Students also pursue a scholarly research and writing project on a topic of their choice. They review basic research methods and tools and the processes of research and of writing using researched information. Each student works with a faculty advisor who has special interest or expertise in the student’s chosen topic or area; such topics or areas may be chosen from the full range of English studies.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The seminar relies primarily on discussion among the whole group of seminar members. The instructor invites open discussion of issues raised by the readings and occasionally guides students to crucial points or topics. Smaller group discussion facilitates broader coverage of material and affords students opportunities to prepare and receive responses on oral presentations and written projects. Students may also participate in panel discussions on texts and topics relevant to the seminar’s exploration of English. Writing and speaking requirements provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning in the course.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The goal of this course is to be a “capstone” to the undergraduate major in English. It affords students an opportunity to synthesize what they have learned and done as English majors and to situate themselves and their learning within the complex institution of English. Students must learn about the many subfields and professions that constitute English. They must be given the opportunity to reflect critically on the discipline, and critical reflection is possible only when unstated or even unconscious assumptions are brought to light. This is achieved by introducing students to the critical and theoretical conflicts and debates of recent years. Irrespective of the profession one finally enters within the broad field of English after completing an undergraduate major, English professionals share with one another the need to be scholars and writers. As students explore and situate themselves within the discipline of English, they also have the opportunity in this seminar to write and do research—in short, to be active participants in the discipline. The goal of the scholarly research project is, then, to help students become practicing scholars and writers of English.

In addition to these general goals and objectives, the course is designed to help students improve the skills of writing and speaking from within the discipline of English. Students develop research skills which enable them to find information, to distinguish important critical issues and ideas and to write with authority on topics within the discipline of English.


Assessment Measures

Students have several and diverse opportunities to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge and the meeting of course goals and objectives. Assessment of their performance may be based upon evaluation of reading logs, critical essays, oral presentations, class participation and scholarly research projects.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009