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Advanced Seminars

Fun, intense, and challenging them to do their best work, most English majors will find their advanced seminars their most memorable intellectual experiences at Penn. We consider them our marquee courses, the place 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 0001-0099) 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 (English 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 be writing poetry or fiction, drama, screenwriting, or non-fiction prose.

Our Advanced Literature Seminars (English 2000-2999) and Critical-Creative Seminars (0700-0799) are small (usually around 12-15 students, capping at 25), taught by our standing faculty, and cover their topics in far more depth than core surveys.

Our Benjamin Franklin Seminars (English 0500-0599) are even smaller (capping at 18 students). They are open to everyone, but sometimes require the permission of the instructor (just write the professor to ask). 

Advanced undergraduate majors are also eligible (with permission of the instructor) to take 4000-level 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 Standard Curriculum should take the JRS (English 4950-4998) and at least four Seminars to fulfill the requirements of the degree. Most majors take more. At least two of these seminars can be double-counted in the core if they share the right Core attribute (AETP, AEDD, AEMR, AE18, AE19, or AE20). Thus, a major could take English 2740 instead of English 0045 to fulfill Sector 6 of the Standard Curriculum.

Of these four required seminars, however, two may not be double-counted in the core: the pre-1700 seminar and the pre-1900 seminar. We make this stipulation because we wish majors to take at least five of their twelve courses in Literature of the 19th century and earlier.

Creative Writing and Cinema Studies have slightly different rules. The Creative Writing track requires that you take the JRS (English 4950-4998), three Creative Writing Seminars (3010-3099; 3100-3999) and two Literature Seminars (0300-0399; 0500-0599; 0700-0799; 2000-2999; 5000-5999); one of these must be in Literature before 1900. The Cinema Studies track requires that you take two Advanced Cinema Seminars and two Advanced Literature (non-cinema) Seminars, one of which must be in Literature before 1900.