The English Major at Davidson

The English Department provides you with a depth and breadth of literary knowledge while teaching you to explore problems creatively, to be sensitive to life's diversity, and to read the world critically and thoughtfully.

English courses provide students of all academic interests with a strong foundation in critical and expressive skills. We cater to the college's diverse student body by offering both critical and creative courses that focus on various time periods, authors, genres, regions and media.  

Courses & Requirements

Courses You Might Take

ENG 453

Literary Alchemy


What happens when a literary genius takes hold of a mere suggestion and transforms it into literary gold?  By what process of imagination does a snippet of news in The New York Times become Truman Capote's In Cold Blood or spawn Susan Orleans's orchid thief, John Laroche, who reemerges as played by Chris Cooper in Spike Jonze's conversion of The Orchid Thief into a film about the very matter of Adaptation?  How does Miss Kay grow from what Muriel Spark calls "the seeds of the future Miss Jean Brodie" into that fully formed character in her prime?  What happens when Shakespeare takes hold of a lackluster little narrative by Giraldi Cinthio, turns it on its ear, and produces Othello out of base metal?  Or when George Saunders spins Lincoln in the Bardo out of a line of history that concerns Abraham Lincoln's visit to his son's tomb?  This seminar will explore the literary imagination by focusing on such transformations into nonfiction, fiction, drama, and film-some from humble origins, others from already established masterpieces.


ENG 308

Time & Space Creative Nonfict


Memoirs and essays can never correspond directly with reality. One real-world element that we can manipulate, like magicians--while remaining firmly in the realm of fact--is time. Compressing, speeding up, slowing down, or otherwise manipulating time can help us convey the meaning and emotional resonance of events. If we accept that linear time itself is a fiction-albeit a useful one-a new universe of possible story structures opens up around us. In this course, we will examine memoirs and personal essays (and a film or two) that flout conventional structures and play with time in innovative, interesting ways, and use these explorations as inspiration for our own writing, with a particular focus on the events of our lived realities.


ENG 483

Black Lit Theory: Afr Lit


(Cross-listed with AFR 383)

This course will bring together readings both literary and critical/theoretical, beginning with Frantz Fanon's seminal Black Skin, White Masks (1952). Taking Fanon as its point of departure, then, this course will necessarily turn to a discussion of the recent discourse on Afro-pessimism and black optimism, attempting to introduce students to issues and questions of race, race relations, anti-black racism, black sociality, the universality of whiteness, the fungibility of the black body, and of the vulnerability and precarity of black life; and together we will think more closely about how the complex and "unthinkable" histories of slavery, colonialism, and the Middle Passage, for examples, continue to challenge the representational limits and potentialities of traditional literary genres and modes of emplotment. In addition to Fanon, authors will include Orlando Patterson, Toni Morrison, Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Frank Wilderson, Jared Sexton, and Fred Moten.

Satisfies a requirement in the Africana Studies major.
Counts as a senior seminar and fulfills the Diversity requirement for the English major.
Counts as a literature elective for the Global Literary Theory interdisciplinary minor.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.