Undergraduate Programs

The Department of English at UNC offers the English major with two emphasis areas: Liberal Arts and Secondary Education. Minors in English, Film, and Writing are also available.

Check out our Student Opportunities page for information on scholarships, internships, clubs, events and more.


English - Liberal Arts

English - Secondary Teaching

English Minor

Writing Minor

Film Studies Minor

Upcoming Undergraduate Courses

The English undergraduate curriculum features a wide range of courses in literature, writing, language, critical theory, film, and cultural studies. Scroll through the sections below for courses offered in Fall 2016. Disclaimer: The course descriptions provided here are for the guidance of students. Faculty reserve the right to change course descriptions and schedules without prior notice.

For additional details please visit:

  • English: 100-Level Courses

    intro to literature

    ENG 131: Introduction to Literature

    Aimed at students fulfilling liberal arts requirements, this course introduces students to the study of literature. We will read broadly among poetry, plays, and works of fiction. Students will familiarize themselves with literary-critical vocabulary and become more savvy and imaginative readers.

    Faculty: Norman Peercy, Crystal Brothe, Erin Satterlee, Joseph Chaves

    ENG 195: The Arthurian Legend

    Faculty: Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

    Texts will include: 

    • Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain
    • Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table
    • Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Idylls of the King
    • Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

    arthurian legend

    This class is designed to introduce English majors to the study of English through an examination of the Arthurian legend with an emphasis on close reading. In the words of I.A. Richards, our focus will be “the words on the page.” How do literary tropes (characterization, imagery, point of view, etc.), syntax (word order, construction of sentences, etc.), word choices (connotation vs. denotation, synonyms, word forms, etc.), and phonetic choices (harsh sounds vs. soft sounds, etc.) generate meaning in a text?

    walking dead

    ENG 195: Are We the Walking Dead?

    This course introduces English majors to the study of English. You will practice reading, research, and writing skills you will need. In short, you will learn to think about and respond to texts like scholars in English Studies.

    In particular, you will be given the opportunity to closely read works of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Toward the end of the semester, you will be introduced to the genre of comics and bring your practice with these skills to bear on works of “popular culture,” in particular the first part of The Walking Dead series (the comics, not the TV show). As we move through the semester, we will be developing and exploring the theme of what it means to live fully, awake, aware – how “living fully” has been articulated as an ethic across genres and historical periods in literature (broadly conceived), as well as what it alternatively means to live as “the walking dead.”


  • English: 200-Level Courses

    ENG 200: Introduction to Creative Writing

    Faculty: Lisa Zimmerman

    ENG 203: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

    Faculty: Erin Satterlee

    ENG 211: Survey of American Literature

    Faculty: Stuart Rabinowitz

    ENG 225: Higher Learning

    This course will immerse you in a historic and contemporary conversation regarding the purpose of higher education. At the same time that the course explores historical perspectives on education, it also attempts to elicit definitions of “rhetoric” and explicate rhetoric’s place in those perspectives.

    Texts will include:

    • Nathan, My Freshman Year
    • Arum and Roksa, Academically Adrift
    • Giroux, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education
    • Nussbaum, Not For Profit

    higher ed

    The course is divided into three stages. In the first, the historical stage, we will survey a range of ideas concerning the purpose of education–from ancient Greek through the early 20th century. We will come to define rhetoric and frame rhetoric’s place in education. In the second stage, we will read books that make very different arguments about the purpose, conditions, and effectiveness of contemporary higher education. These arguments will serve as a launching point for stage three, in which you will select an issue to develop a research paper and multimedia presentation.

    ENG 225: House and Home

    Faculty: Lisa Zimmerman

    ENG 225: Reading Insanity

    Faculty: Claudia Milstead

    This is a late-start, mixed online and face-to-face course. Course begins Monday, September 19, 2016, meeting in person 5 – 7 p.m. on Monday nights. The remainder of the course will be conducted online.

    Even though the course begins four weeks later than other fall classes, it will require as much work as a traditional full-semester class. Students should be prepared for a great deal of reading.

    Requirements include regular attendance, participation in online and face-to-face discussions, frequent quizzes (online and in person), research on mental illness, short reflection papers, peer reviews, and a research paper.

    What do we mean when we talk about insanity? How have our ideas about mental illnesses and their treatments changed? We will explore the topic by reading novels and memoirs like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Ten Days in a Mad-House, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (full reading list to be determined).

    reading insanity

    ENG 243: Introduction to Screenwriting

    Faculty: Joseph Brady

    ENG 244: Creative Writing - Poetry

    Faculty: Lisa Zimmerman

    In this course, we will read dozens of poems in this class as well as a number of essays about poetry. We will cheerfully take them apart to learn what makes them “tick.” We will go to poetry slams. We will memorize poems. We will listen to visiting poets and ask them all kinds of questions. We will explore different poetic forms and discuss, in class, all of the above. And of course, we will write poems, some of which you will share with classmates in “workshop” settings. These workshops will enable each of you to receive feedback and constructive comments on your writing that will assist you in the process of revision.

    “We have poetry so we won’t die of history.” - Meena Alexander

    “It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.” - Stephen Mallarme (1842-1898)

    “One breath taken completely; one poem, fully written, fully read - in such a moment, anything can happen.” - Jane Hirshfield

    “A work of art gives testimony as to what it is to be a human being. It bears witness, it extracts meaning.  A work of art is also the clearest nonphysical way that emotion is communicated from one human being to another…The emotion shows us that our most private feelings are in fact shared feelings. And this offers us some relief from our existential isolation.” - Stephen Dobyns

  • English: 300-Level Courses

    ENG 303: Advanced Creative Nonfiction

    Texts will include:

    • Lahnam, Style: An Anti-Textbook
    • Ellis et al., Now Write! Nonfiction
    • Turkle et al., Evocative Objects
    • Kalman, My Favorite Things

    creative nonfiction


    This course seeks to develop rhetorical awareness and prose style. Following the advice of former poet laureate Robert Pinsky, we will learn to read like a good chef eats--tasting award winning prose while building up our awareness of and proficiency with stylistic conventions. This class will be run as a split between a traditional discussion course and a writing workshop. Students should be prepared to share work in class. Our final project will be a multimedia piece based on writer and artist Maira Kalman’s recent, My Favorite Things.


    ENG 313: Shakespeare: Tragedies and Romances

    Faculty: Tracey Sedinger


    • Romeo and Juliet
    • Julius Caesar
    • Hamlet
    • Othello
    • King Lear
    • Macbeth
    • Coriolanus
    • The Winter’s Tale
    • The Tempest
    • The nature of tragedy and the tragic
    • Violence, masculinity, and genre
    • Republicanism, democracy, and rhetoric
    • Time, timing, and temporality
    • Action, event, and narrative structure
    • Aesthetics and affect
    • And finally: why David Tennant is the best Hamlet ever!

    ENG 318: Traditional & Modern Grammars

    Faculty: Norman Peercy

    ENG 319: The Art of Persuasion

    Faculty: Lahcen Ezzaher

    English 319 is an advanced upper-division writing course designed to help you strengthen your academic writing skills. It is a highly demanding course in which sophisticated writing techniques are taught and practiced to help you produce a number of essays in which you effectively manipulate language for persuasive purposes.

    For this reason, critical reading plays a major role, for it should help you realize that the range of voices and styles in academic writing can be as great as they can be in professional or creative writing. Critical reading should also encourage you to experiment with or adapt the standard patterns you have learned for your academic essays. Finally, you should enter this class with some appropriate level of expertise in planning, generating, organizing, editing and revising texts. But you will also be able to leave it, not only with those skills sharpened and expanded, but with an increased capability to write persuasively within or beyond the university as well.

    ENG 344: Intermediate Creative Writing - Poetry

    Faculty: Lisa Zimmerman

    This is an intermediate course in reading and writing poetry, with attention to different poetic forms and their history; the current publication scene in American poetry; an examination of print and online journals; and for some, the beginning of a poetry manuscript. Includes intensive study of contemporary poetry in English as well as a sampling of contemporary world poetry in translation. Much richness and inspiration derives from the practice of close and careful reading. This class includes workshops with visiting poets and in-class workshops.

    “A poem is a way of making sense and lots of things make sense, not just 2 + 2 = 4. 2 + 2 can = cake for the betterment of the poem. Formal devices can act as a glue, rhyme can make things comfortable together that wouldn’t find themselves in the same grocery store otherwise, stanzaic patterning can provide a grid of regularity to wild assortment and speed. That’s the best way to cross a stream on slippery, wobbly stones.” - Dean Young

    “The life of the imagination has just as much to do with evocation as it does with the exploration of the unconscious...It has a great deal to do, however, with orchestrating sound, image, language, narrative, emotion, and all the other elements of poetry in particular ways...In that “poetry as evocation” sense poetry comes closest to prayer...and I mean prayer in its broader sense as…energy entered, or evoked, or conjured or “looked upon” during contemplation.” - George Kalamaras

    “A poet's work: To name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” - Salman Rushdie

    ENG 345: Literary Theory & Criticism

    Faculty: Tracey Sedinger

    ENG 353: Eighteenth Century

    Faculty: Joseph Chaves

    eighteenth century

    This course introduces English majors to the literature of the eighteenth-century Britain. We’ll examine the ways that writing carves out relationships with the most important cultural developments of the period, considering the origins of modern phenomena central to our lives, such as the rise of consumer culture, the burgeoning empire, novel forms of urban experience, new ways of seeing nature, and the transformation of intimacy.

    We will explore literary genres ranging from the familiar letter to the novella, and from the essay to satire. Likely readings include Jonathan Swift, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and Olaudah Equiano.

    Prerequisites: ENG 195 or its equivalent.

    british literature

    ENG 356: 20th Century British Literature

    Faculty: Sarah Cornish

    Authors may include E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Katherine Burdekin, and Zadie Smith.

    The twentieth century offers exciting developments in British literature and culture. Queen Victoria kicked the bucket in 1901 after a long and very conservative reign, and subsequently, important changes began to percolate particularly in the practice of imperial rule and in defining a British identity beyond class-based structures. Inspired by the Impressionists on the Continent and later the Expressionists and Cubists, writers began to experiment with genre and how words could convey meaning. The Suffrage movement gained momentum. World War I heaped an unprecedented amount of damage and death upon the UK. The interwar period offered a time of blossoming for the arts. World War II changed everything. The colonies gained their freedom. The Empire finally dissolved. New notions of diversity in Britishness emerged. Clashing cultures and economic disparity fueled a new musical landscape. Margaret Thatcher came along. The 90s happened. Tony Blair did his thing. And then we come to the 21st century. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to a wide swath of literature through which, by the end of the semester, you will be able to identify and analyze the impact of these cultural and historical moments.

    ENG 371: Antebellum American Literature, 1800-1865

    Faculty: Joseph Chaves

    Major authors will include Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Douglass, Whitman, Melville, & Dickinson.

    Prerequisites: ENG 195 or its equivalent.

    antebellum literature

    This course examines major movements in literature and culture in the decades leading up to the Civil War: 

    • the commodification of popular culture
    • new understandings of nature as beneficent and restorative, rather than threatening and/or degenerate, in philosophical movements such as Transcendentalism
    • changing ideas of race in the context of the displacement of Native Americans and the Abolition movement
    • novel conceptions of the role of religion in society, including atheists, secularists, and religious movements such as the Second Great Awakening
    • new understandings of sex and gender, and particularly the transformation of the roles of women in public life
    • critical and affirmative responses to a nascent consumer and capitalist world-economy

    ENG 373: American Modernism and the Crisis of Representation

    Faculty: Marcus Embry

    A study of Modernism and the crisis of language and meaning in twentieth-century American literature, with particular emphasis on poetry and innovations in literary form.

    Readings will include:

    • Baldwin, James. If Beale Street Could Talk.
    • Didion, Joan. A Book of Common Prayer.
    • Dos Passos, John. The 42nd Parallel.
    • Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying.
    • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
    • Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
    • McCullers, Carson. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
    • O’Hara, John. Appointment in Samara.
    • Stein, Gertrude. Tender Buttons.
    • Stevens, Wallace. The Palm at the End of the Mind.
    • West, Nathaniel. The Day of the Locust.

    ENG 375: Literature & the Environment

    Faculty: Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

    literature and environment

    In this course, we will be exploring human relationships with the natural world as they appear within medieval English literature.

    First, we will seek to understand how medieval authors interpreted and represented nature, the environment, and their relation to it. We will examine a variety of genres, including medieval romance, hagiography, bestiaries, legal documents, hunting manuals, and scientific writings. To what extent were humans stewards of nature with a duty to protect as well as use it? Or was the medieval citizen rather a privileged species who by nature and divine decree could exploit the world around them with impunity? In addition, how did economic, scientific, philosophic and religious attitudes of the Middle Ages emerge from attitudes about nature?

    Second, we will examine these medieval concepts alongside modern environmental writings (excerpts from Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Rachel Carson, et cetera). To what extent do medieval attitudes about humanity's relationships with the natural world continue to persist today and to what degree?

    We will encounter a variety of human and non-human agents along the way, which will allow us the opportunity to think about what it means to be human and how we construct boundaries between humans and non-humans. We'll also spend some time discussing medieval ideas of nature as an abstract concept, as well as the nature-culture dualism. All of the medieval texts will be read in translation. 

  • English: 400-Level Courses

    ENG 420: Stylistics

    Faculty: Lahcen Ezzaher

    Style is traditionally known as an important canon of rhetoric after invention and arrangement.  It is intimately associated with the art of persuasion.  Today the study of style, more properly called stylistics, is a branch of language study that brings concepts and techniques in modern linguistics to the analysis of texts including newspaper articles, scientific reports, legal contracts and literary pieces.  Therefore, the aim of this course is to introduce such concepts and techniques to students in order to help them proceed with a stylistic approach to interpreting and producing texts.  Essentially the course aims at enabling students:  

    • To build on writing principles and skills learned in prior writing courses;
    • To develop a principled method of working with a wide range of texts by demonstrating a keen insight into an author’s rhetorical purposes and stylistic choices;
    • To demonstrate good editing skills and revise for clarity, cohesion and coherence;
    • To appreciate the range and possibilities of writing, with special emphasis on style.

    ENG 495: Betwixt and Between: Women Writers, 1925-1960

    Faculty: Sarah Cornish

    Authors may include Mollie Panter-Downs, Stevie Smith, Anita Loos, Una Marson, and Muriel Rukeyser among others.

    women writers

    A recent and welcome surge of interest in understudied women writers of the first half of the twentieth century prompt’s our inquiry in this course. But, a problem of categorization also drives us. The first 20 years of the century were charged with the energy of the suffragettes, World War I, and high modernism, and many women writing during that time are well-known to us. The post-war period, characterized by postmodernism, brought a renewed women’s liberation through second wave feminism, and many of these writers also are well known to us. What were women up to between those two waves? What were they writing about? To whom did they direct their work? These are the questions we’ll need to answer to begin to recuperate women’s literary and cultural history in the decades in-between, from the mid-twenties until the mid-fifties. Efforts to recuperate, re-situate, recast, recover, reclaim, rescue the work and lives of women culture-makers during these years has resulted in a new critical framework called “intermodernism.” In this course, we’ll test it out on a body of literature (and film) by women that breaks genre conventions, challenges gender expectations, and troubles feminism in exciting ways. We’ll interrogate the persistence of “re-” words that accompany studying previously lost or forgotten works. We’ll consider how women-authored texts make political interventions and influence a varied readership. This capstone course is reading and writing intensive.

  • Film Courses


    FILM 120: Introduction to Film

    Faculty: Burke Hilsabeck

    This course introduces students to foundational practices and concepts in the study of film. Students will have the opportunity to learn core skills in film analysis, to read and write film criticism, and to engage with important works of film theory. The course places emphasis on active and informed participation in class and the completion of several written assignments in film criticism and analysis. Screenings will include films from the Hollywood studio era, the French art cinema, and the contemporary theatrical experience such as Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943), Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda, 1963,) and Beyond the Lights (Prince-Bythewood, 2015).


    FILM 210: History of Film I (1895-1945)

    Faculty: Burke Hilsabeck

    This course surveys the history of the cinema from turn-of-the-century visual amusements like Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope to international cinemas of the 1940s. Students will have the opportunity to view films from both the silent and sound eras, and to engage with issues of film style and theory across films from multiple national and generic traditions. The class will place particular emphasis on viewing and thinking about these films in their historical contexts, considering how earlier film audiences were similar to and different from our own, the different political and ideological orientations of these films and their viewers, and how these films understood themselves as part of an international system of production and distribution. The course places emphasis on active and informed participation in class and the completion of written assignments involving reading and research using primary documents from the first half of the twentieth century.


    FILM 330: Melodramas and Musicals

    Faculty: Kenneth Chan

    We will be watching films like:

    • White Christmas
    • The Sound of Music
    • Funny Girl
    • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
    • Across the Universe
    • Sweeney Todd
    • All About Eve
    • Now, Voyager
    • Mommie Dearest
    • Far from Heaven

    Melodramas and musicals are often categorized derogatorily as “chick flicks.” Not only is this label problematic in terms of demeaning what is stereotypically constituted as feminine cinematic taste, it also marks a need to reassess the significant roles melodramas and musicals have played in the history of cinema. In surveying the historical development of melodramas and musicals in American and other national cinematic traditions, this course will familiarize students with the shifting formalist structures of the genres and the key themes they convey. We will also view films that typify the genres, while examining atypical examples to illustrate how the melodramatic mode and musical elements can infuse and invigorate other generic forms.

    (Students without FILM 120 Introduction to Film prerequisite are also welcome. Please contact Professor Chan to request admission into the course.)

  • Humanities Courses

    HUM 122: Popular Medievalisms: Harry Potter vs. Game of Thrones

    Faculty: Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

    harry potter vs game of thrones

    cultural studies

    HUM 130: Introduction to Cultural Studies

    Faculty: Cody Shaffer, Norman Peercy

    Introduction to Cultural Studies is a survey of foundational texts in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies and an examination of specific applications of these theories and methods to material cultural artifacts. At the center of this survey students will be focusing on the application of the theory of ‘semiotics,’ in order to better understand ‘popular culture.’

  • Life of the Mind Courses

    MIND 180: Great Ideas of the Western Tradition: Civilization and Violence

    Faculty: Tracey Sedinger

    In 2012, archaeologists discovered the remains of a pregnant woman in Kenya, brutally murdered over ten thousand years ago with at least 27 other people. This discovery (and other examples of prehistoric violence) prompts disturbing questions about human beings. Are we “naturally” violent, or just violent when we “need” to be? Does civilization restrain innate human impulses towards brutality, or does it create them? Are we becoming more or less violent? Do the humanities civilize us, make us better (i.e., less violent) human beings? And finally, a moral question: if I am a civil and civilized person, why do I enjoy killing zombies when I play video games?

    In this course we will explore these questions in fiction and non-fiction; we will look at texts that argue for projects to restrain the human propensity to violence, as well as texts that represent human violence—for our enjoyment—in all its nastiness and glory. Texts that I am currently considering include: Euripides, Bacchae; Plato, Republic; Beowulf; William Shakespeare, Macbeth; Sir Francis Bacon, selected essays; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Mary Shelley,Frankenstein; Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo; Frantz Fanon, selected essays; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.