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Advanced Seminars

Fun, intense, and challenging, advanced seminars are some of our English Majors' most memorable intellectual experiences at Penn. We consider them our marquee courses, where students have the opportunity to engage in-depth with a subject on which a professor is currently doing cutting-edge work.

They are open to all interested students, without prerequisites. While we recommend that you begin with at least one introductory (ENGL 0001-0299), or First Year Seminar (0300-0399), or intermediate (ENGL 1000-1999) course in way of preparation, you should never let inexperience stand in the way of a seminar that looks wonderful to you.


Advanced Seminar Types

Our Creative Writing Seminars (ENGL 3000-3999) are taught by successful professional writers who are also excellent teachers. They challenge students to take their writing beyond competency to a new level, whether they write poetry or fiction, drama, screenwriting, or non-fiction prose. These do not, however, count in the English Major Core.

Our Advanced Literature Seminars (ENGL 2000-2999) and Critical-Creative Seminars (ENGL 0700-0799) are small—usually around 12-15 students, capping at 25—taught by our standing faculty, and cover topics in far more depth than Core surveys. We are espcially proud of our Critical-Creative offerings; these enable students to think and write creatively as a means to the critical understanding of literary texts. They seeks to advance students' understanding of literature, its formal elements, and its relationship to culture and history through the use of creative projects instead of or alongside more traditional critical writing.

Our Benjamin Franklin Seminars (ENGL 0500-0599) are even smaller, capping at 18 students. 

Advanced undergraduate Majors are also eligible—with permission of the instructor—to take CGS graduate seminars and 5000-level graduate courses. We especially encourage students considering post-graduate study to consider these courses.


Fulfilling Requirements

English Majors electing the General Curriculum should take the JRS (ENGL 4950-4998) and at least four Seminars to fulfill the advanced seminar requirements of the degree. One of the four Seminars must be focused on literature before 1700 (AEB7) and one must be focused on literature before 1900 (AEB9). The other two Seminars may be double-counted in the Core if they share the right attribute (AETP, AEDD, AEMR, AE18, AE19, or AE20). Thus, a Major could take ENGL 2740 instead of ENGL 0045 to fulfill Sector 6 of the General Curriculum. 

The Creative Writing and Cinema & Media Studies Concentrations have slightly different rules:

  • The Creative Writing track requires that you take the JRS (ENGL 4950-4998), three Creative Writing Seminars (ENGL 0051, 0700-0799, or 3100-3999), and two Literature Seminars (0300-0399; 0500-0599; 0700-0799; 2000-2999; 4000-4988; 5000-5999); one of these must be in Literature before 1900.
  • The Cinema & Media Studies track requires that you take two Advanced Cinema Seminars (ENGL 1900 or 1901, and ENGL 1950) and two Literature Seminars (non-cinema), one of which must be focused on literature before 1900. See the Creative Writing or Cinema Studies websites for a more detailed overview of these requirements.