English (BA)

English (BA)

English majors read, discuss, and write about literature, film, popular culture and the law from a variety of perspectives. In doing so, they build skills in critical reading and analysis, verbal presentation, argumentation, and persuasive writing. In John Jay’s unique English curriculum, students acquire a comprehensive and varied foundation in literary study, and then choose to pursue either the field of Literature in greater depth or an optional concentration in Literature and the Law. The major prepares students for a variety of careers and graduate work in law, public policy, business, education, writing, and government.

Learning Outcomes. Students will:

•     Read texts closely, paying attention to the significance of words, syntax, and their contribution to the meaning of the text as a whole.

•     Identify the key elements and terms of literature, such as tone, form, point of view, figurative language, and plot structure in their analysis of literature.

•     Show awareness of a given genre and its conventions within a historical context.

•     Appropriately use secondary and theoretical sources in support of literary analysis.

•     Write critically on literature, including setting up a thesis, incorporating textual evidence, writing a coherent argument, and citing sources correctly according to a standardized format.

•     Produce papers that are edited for clarity and grammatical correctness.

Credits Required.

English Major


General Education




Total Credits Required for B.A. Degree


Coordinator. Professor John Staines (646.557.4555, jstaines@jjay.cuny.edu)


Advising resources. Department of English webpage - information for students.
Sample Four-year Plan of Study.


Honors option. To receive Honors in Literature, a student must take both the Literature Seminar and an Independent Study that includes a research project, maintaining a GPA of 3.5 within the major. To receive Honors in Literature and the Law, a student must take both the Literature and the Law Seminar and an Independent Study that includes a research project, maintaining a GPA of 3.5 within the major.

Additional information. Students who enrolled for the first time at the College or changed to this major in September 2017 or thereafter must complete the major in the form presented here.  Students who enrolled prior to that date may choose either the form shown here or the earlier version of the major.  A copy of the earlier version can be found in the 2016-17 Undergraduate Bulletin.

FOUNDATIONAL COURSES                                                                                        Subtotal: 3 credits

Select one General Education English Literature course
LIT 230 Expressions of the Living Past: Reading Ancient Worlds
LIT 231 Medieval and Early Modern Literature
LIT 232 Reading the Modern World
LIT 233 American Stories (was American Literature)
LIT 236 Literary Perspectives on Culture and Globalization
LIT 237 Literature as Witness
LIT 239 Science in the Making
LIT 241 Murder on Screen and Stage
LIT 326 Crime, Punishment and Justice in the U.S. Literature
LIT 327 Crime, Punishment and Justice in World Literature
ISP 235 Apples & Oranges: Form & Meaning in the Arts
ISP 236 Truth & Creativity: How We Make Meaning
ISP 273 The Stories We Tell

Advisors recommendation. All courses listed above can fulfill one area of the Gen Ed Program.

PART ONE. CRITICAL SKILLS                                                                                    Subtotal: 3 credits

LIT 260 Introduction to Literary Study

PART TWO. CRITICAL METHODS                                                                            Subtotal: 6 credits

LIT 300 Text and Context
LIT 305 Foundations of Literature and Law 

PART THREE. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES                                                       Subtotal: 12 credits

Choose four
LIT 370 Topics in Ancient Literature
LIT 371 Topics in Medieval Literature 
LIT 372 Topics in Early Modern Literature
LIT 373 Topics in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Literature
LIT 374 Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature
LIT 375 Topics in Twentieth-Century Literature
LIT 379 Selected Historical Topics in Literature

Students may choose the following elective courses as alternatives to satisfy PART THREE.  Historical Perspectives:
For LIT 371: LIT 319 Law and Justice in European Medieval Literature
For LIT 372: LIT 313 Shakespeare OR LIT 314 Shakespeare and Justice
For LIT 375: LIT 344 Caribbean Literature and Culture OR LIT 357 Violence of Language: US Latino/a Street Literature OR LIT 383 Gender and Sexuality in U.S. Latino/a Literature

Please note: Courses cannot count in more than one area of the major.

PART FOUR. ELECTIVES                                                                            Subtotal: 12 credits

Choose any four courses from the list below
If concentrating in “Literature and the Law”, choose at least two of the courses identified in the bottom note.
ENG 212 Introduction to Creative Writing
ENG 215 Poetry Writing and Reading
ENG 216 Fiction Writing
ENG 221 Screenwriting for Film, Television and Internet
ENG 228/ANT 228 Introduction to Language
ENG 230 Journalism in the 21st Century
ENG 233 News Reporting and Writing
ENG 235 Writing for Management, Business, and Public Administration
ENG 242 Contemporary Media in Everday Life
ENG 245 Creative Nonfiction
ENG 250 Writing for Legal Studies
ENG 255 Argument Writing
ENG 260 Grammar, Syntax, and Style: Writing for All Disciplines
ENG 313 Advanced Fiction Writing
ENG 316 Advanced Argument Writing and Response: Theory and Practice
ENG 328/ANT 328 Forensic Linguistics: Language as Evidence in the Courts
ENG 334 Intermediate News Reporting and Writing
ENG 336 Digital Journalism
ENG 350 Advanced Legal Writing: Advocacy and Oral Argument
ENG 380 Selected Topics in Creative Writing
ISP 321 Moral, Legal, and Ethical Dilemmas that Shape the USA
ISP 322 Making Waves: Troublemakers, Gadflies, and Whistleblowers
LIT 203 New York City in Literature
LIT 212 Literature of the African World
LIT 219 The Word as Weapon
LIT 223/AFR 223 African-American Literature
LIT 265 Foundations of U.S. Latino/a Literature
LIT 270 Reading and Writing Children's Literature
LIT 275 The Language of Film
LIT 283 New York City in Film
LIT 284 Film and Society
LIT 285 The Rebel in Film
LIT 286 The Horror Film
LIT 287 Selected Topics in Literature
LIT 309 Contemporary Fiction
LIT 311 Literature and Ethics
LIT 313 Shakespeare
LIT 314 Shakespeare and Justice
LIT 315 American Literature and the Law
LIT 316 Gender and Identity in Literary Traditions
LIT 319 Law and Justice in European Medieval Literature
LIT 323 The Crime Film
LIT 324 Road Movies
LIT 325 Science Fiction Film
LIT 326 Crime, Punishment and Justice in U.S. Literature
LIT 327 Crime, Punishment and Justice in World Literature
LIT 328 Film Criticism
LIT 329 Documentary Film and Media
LIT 330 Alfred Hitchcock
LIT 331 Steven Spielberg
LIT 332 Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee
LIT 340/AFR 340 The African-American Experience in America: Comparative Racial Perspectives
LIT 342 Perspectives on Literature and Human Rights
LIT 344 Caribbean Literature and Culture
LIT 346 Cultures in Conflict
LIT 352 New Fiction
LIT 353 Comic Books and Graphic Novels: Investigating a Literary Medium
LIT 357 Violence of Language: U.S. Latino/a Street Literature
LIT 360 Mythology in Literature
LIT 362 The Bible as Literature
LIT 366 Writing Nature: Literature and Ecology
LIT 380 Advanced Selected Topics in Literature
LIT 383 Gender and Sexuality in U.S. Latino/a Literature
LIT 401 Special Topics
LIT 409 Seminar in U.S. Latino/a Literature
LLS 362 Entangled Tongues: Bilingualism in U.S. Latino/a Literature
LLS 363 Il-legal Subjects: U.S. Latina/o Literature and the Law
LLS 364 Ethical Strains in U.S. Latino/a Literature

Students who wish to do the LIT and LAW concentration should choose their electives from this list: ENG 250, ENG 328/ANT 328, ENG 350, ISP 321, ISP 322, LIT 219, LIT 311, LIT 314, LIT 315, LIT 319, LIT 323, LIT 342, LIT 348, LLS 363.
Students should also consult the current course schedule for offerings

PART FIVE. MAJOR SEMINAR                                                                             Subtotal: 3 credits

Choose one
(If concentrating in Literature and the Law, choose Literature and the Law Seminar)
LIT 400 Senior Seminar in Literature
LIT 405 Senior Seminar in Literature and Law

                                                                                                                                         Total Credit Hours: 39

                                                                                                                                                      Last Updated: 2/6/18