The Vermont Cynic

English dept. overhauls major


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UVM’s English major will look different this year due to new course requirements, a new minor and a new professor.

Maria Hummel, an award-winning poet and nov- elist who previously taught at Stanford University, has been hired to fill a new position, lead professor of fiction writing, ac- cording to professor Dan Fogel.

“We’ve been wanting to hire a fiction writer for a while now, so we’re very excited to have Maria joining us,” Fogel said. “It is very difficult to have fiction published compared to essays or journals, so he commends Hummel’s success in poetry and novel-writing.”

Hummel’s hire is only one of many changes coming to the English department after the 2014 Academic Program Review.

This review is conducted by external advisers who com- pare UVM’s English program to those of other universities.

The 2014 review called for “coherence, clearer trajectory and a grounding in literary his- tory” in the English department.

As a result, requirements for English majors are changing.

Prior to this year, students were required to fulfill their dis- tribution requirements by tak- ing courses from different his- torical periods.

Students will now have to complete 15 credits of core class- es and choose a concentration, according to the 2015 Proposal For Curricular Revisions.

The required classes include an introductory seminar, a two- class sequence focusing on ei- ther British literature, American literature or western literary tradition, a literary theory class and a senior seminar.

Students who entered the English program prior to the 2016-2017 academic year will have the option of fulfilling the new requirements or the old ones, Fogel said.

The new concentrations offered for English majors include American literary traditions, British and Anglophone literary traditions, cultural studies, writing or an independently de- signed concentration.

A new minor in writing will also be offered this year.

The writing minor will go be- yond creative writing to include expository and persuasive writ- ing, rhetoric, literary journalism and even plays and screenwrit- ing, Fogel said.

“Well, I really like that they’re offering a writing mi- nor along with the new English Major package,” Senior English major Michael Swain said. “But I don’t like that they’re forcing majors to pick a concentration.”

Fogel believes students in other departments will be able to benefit from the new minor, he said.

“After all, what sets people apart is the ability to express ideas cogently and fluently,” Fogel said. “All students can choose to focus on doing that in their writing now.”

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English dept. overhauls major