The English Honors Program is open to applicants who have shown exceptional
ability in English. English Honors is designed to expand and intensify the
academic experiences of advanced English majors through completion
of a three-quarter, cohort-based, senior-year progam. The
program builds a community of undergraduate scholars within the English
Department, providing them with opportunities to work closely with UW professors
in independent study and research, and with special events such as lectures
2013-14 Honors Faculty and Topics
"Literature and Politics "
This Honors sequence focuses on “literature and politics.” Each seminar will explore the relationship between cultural production and political struggle, with a specific focus on the role of literature. All honors seminars will include theoretical and literary critical texts that offer ways of situating literature in relation to changing historical and social conditions. Course materials will reach back into the nineteenth century and forward into the twenty-first. Topics include settler colonialism, slavery, genocide, imperialism, capitalism, sex/gender hierarchies, and regimes of sexual and bodily normalization. Each seminar will be writing intensive and will result in the production of a final research paper. The honors sequence will work to provide students with the following skills, important to successful work in literary and cultural study:
- close or careful reading of primary textual evidence;
- close or careful reading of critical academic prose;
- ability to summarize the main claims of an academic essay;
- ability to assess and respond to the main claims of an academic essay;
- ability to situate oneself in a critical conversation;
- ability to formulate a distinct critical perspective;
- ability to create a logically coherent and complex thesis;
- ability to develop a coherent and sustained argument to support that thesis.
2013-2014 Honors Faculty
Professor Gillian Harkins
Professor Katherine Cummings
Professor Alys Weinbaum
Professor Chandan Reddy
Previous years' faculty and topics:
2012-2013: "Cultural Forms and Social Change" (Faculty: Gillian Harkins,
Kate Cummings, Charles LaPorte, Juliet Shields, Caroline Simpson)
2011-2012: "Narratives of Time and Space: Memory, Dislocation and Emotion" (Faculty: Carolyn Allen, Sydney Kaplan, Monika Kaup, Mark Patterson)
2010-2011: "Technologies of Textual Representation" (Faculty:
Tom Foster, Laurie George, Tom Lockwood, Miceál Vaughan)
2009-2010: "Aesthetics and Politics" (Faculty: Gillian Harkins, Laura
Chrisman, Eva Cherniavsky, Alys Weinbaum)
2008-2009: "History and Imagination" (Faculty:
Herbert Blau, Sydney Kaplan, Tom Lockwood, Michelle Liu)
2007-2008: "Reading Genres
of (Post)Modernity" (Faculty: Carolyn
2006-2007: "The Object(s) of Literature" (Faculty:
Sydney Kaplan, Mark Patterson, Shawn Wong, Laura Chrisman)
2005-2006: "Aesthetics and Politics" (Faculty: Alys Weinbaum, Mark Patterson,
Chandan Reddy, Zahid Chaudhary)
details on prior year honors seminars, see the Department's quarterly
to the English Honors Cohort is competitive. Applications
are accepted annually after winter quarter grades have been
and are due
by the third Friday
of spring quarter to begin the
program the following autumn. Space
is limited. Meeting minimum eligibility requirements,
or being a member
of the College
Honors Program, does not guarantee
admission. Selection takes place through the competitive
admission process, which includes the
application form and a personal statement.
Students usually enter English Honors when they have Junior
standing, with an
of 115-135 credits
earned. A cohort of approximately 40 students will be admitted
during spring quarter, and must complete the program in residence over
To be eligible for English Honors, all students must be declared English
apply in spring quarter for the following Autumn's English Honors cohort,
and must have:
- completed at least two quarters at the UW
- completed at least 15 credits of UW English courses at the 200-level
- completed ENGL 302, or be planning to complete it in Spring or Summer
quarter, before beginning the Honors program in the Autumn
- a minimum UW cumulative GPA of 3.3
- a minimum UW English GPA of 3.7 (in courses at the 200-level and above)
Students who fail to meet this GPA requirement but who feel that there
circumstances, such as having taken
a group of exceptionally difficult courses or having undergone a period of
personal difficulty resulting in a lowered GPA, may petition the department
Director of Undergraduate
Programs for special consideration.
- at least three remaining quarters in residence at the UW: students
in the Honors Program must take English honors courses on campus in Autumn,
Winter, and Spring.
- submitted an application form and a personal statement (no
more than one page) that addresses these things:
- what do you hope to gain by participating in the English Honors
- please describe a good learning experience you have had while pursuing
the English major and discuss how it informed your decision to apply
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Advising and Administration
All new English Honors students are encouraged to meet and consult
with the English Department faculty and staff members who administer the
Professor Colette Moore,
Director of Undergraduate Programs and English Honors
Padelford A-2H; email@example.com
Nancy Sisko, English Honors Adviser
Padelford A-2-B; 543-3528; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sisko receives and approves applications, maintains academic progress
Honors students, issues add codes and provides
supplemental registration assistance and academic planning. Professor
Colette Moore is available to discuss intellectual topics, scholarly
activities, and academic interests and plans with students, makes decisions
regarding student requests for exceptions to Honors policies and procedures,
and reviews applications for readmission after dismissal.
an article about the English Honors Program featured on the University Honors
Students who successfully complete both the College
Honors and the English
Honors programs will be graduated With College Honors in English.
Students successfully completing the English Department Honors program
only will be graduated
With Honors in English. These Honors are posted to
the UW transcript. To
graduate With Honors in English,
students must complete all required English Honors courses and maintain
UW cumulative GPA of 3.3 and UW English GPA of 3.7.
WARNING: Students who have not completed
requirements by their scheduled graduation date must request that
the graduation date be postponed if he or she still desires to graduate
with Honors. Once the degree is posted,
no changes can be made to the transcript, and Honors will be forfeited.
and Satisfactory Progress
English Honors course work consists of two honors seminars (ENGL 494),
one taken in Autumn and one in Winter, followed by the writing of an honors
thesis in the Spring (ENGL 496).
A total of four honors seminars are offered each year, two in Autumn
and two in Winter, taught by a total of four faculty members. The four
seminars are linked by a theme of question, to be decided on by the
faculty. Examples of the broadest themes or questions include" "Literature
of Empire"; "Textual Studies"; "Literature and
Arts"; "What is Modernity?"; "What is Literary History?"
Two of the four honors faculty will elect to be available in the Spring
to oversee the approximately 40 honors essays. (Students may also choose
to work with other professors as well, either because of an existing
mentoring relationship, or because of scholarly expertise. Students completing
the creative writing pathway may also choose to do a creative project
under the direction of an appropriate faculty member.) There will be
a meeting time and room scheduled for the thesis course(s), though the
supervising faculty are free to organize the course as they would like.
Honors course work may not
be “doubled up,” nor may the courses be taken out of sequence,
though Honors coursework may overlap with English major requirements where
An add code for the following course in the Honors sequence will
not be issued if there is an incomplete grade or failing grade on the student’s
record for the previous Honors course. For example, if an “I” appears
for ENGL 494 in Autumn Quarter, an add code for ENGL 494 for the upcoming
Quarter will not be issued until the incomplete grade is
resolved. This may result in being shut out of a desired seminar or
being dismissed from the program if the incomplete converts to a 0.0.
If at any time after admission a student’s grades fall below these minimum
standards, he or she will be dismissed from the program. Students
who have been dropped for unsatisfactory scholarship may reapply for admission
at a later date if minimum GPA requirements are attained. All second
applications must be accompanied by a letter of petition and two letters
of recommendation from English faculty.
Registration for English Honors courses is by add code only. Add
codes may be obtained from Nancy Sisko in English Advising,
A-2B Padelford. Add codes for honors couress are generally issued in
a first-come, first-served basis on the first day of regular senior registration.
Honors Courses to English Major Requirements
Honors courses may be applied to major requirements in a number
of ways. Any Honors course may be used to
satisfy English major elective requirements, although this works most efficiently
for students following the major with an emphasis in literature. Any
Honors Seminar, if defined appropriately, may be used to satisfy
any requirement in the English major. For example,
if the topic of one of your Senior Seminars is “Virginia Woolf and
Bloomsbury Group,” it is very likely that it satisfies a History of
Language and Literature core requirement. Honors seminars may always
be used as 400-level
electives. For approval of
Honors courses for specific requirements, consult the Honors Adviser, Nancy
Honors students will use ENGL 496 Major Conference for Honors as their
400-level senior capstone course.
ENGL 496: Major Conference for Honors
The Major Conference for Honors requires a thesis project, a substantive
essay, usually 20-30 pages, but sometimes longer. Broadly speaking,
the thesis is a complex piece of research-based literary analysis,
criticism, theory, or other critical work related to English. Although
most people choose literary topics, students are also welcome to do thesis
work in English language study (linguistics), rhetoric and composition,
cultural studies, film studies, and other emerging areas of the discipline.
The Honors thesis should aspire to the level of a good graduate term paper. To
approach this level of competence, it should have the following characteristics:
- A clear, significant thesis that is fully developed, coherent, and
free from major flaws in reasoning.
- Arguments based on textual evidence and grounded in attentive close
- An engagement in the “critical conversation” that takes the essay
beyond a competent close reading. Authoritative use of secondary sources
that does not use the arguments of others in place of original thought
or amount to nothing but a review of the criticism.
- A clear and consistent critical perspective that reflects an awareness
of theoretical concerns.
- Effective organization that demonstrates purposefulness, a logical
progression of thought, and rhetorical skill.
- Lucid, masterful, and engaging prose style.
- Freedom from stylistic missteps and mechanical errors.
- Correct documentation utilizing either MLA Handbook or Chicago
Manual of Style.
Faculty Supervision and Registration for ENGL 496
Two of the four faculty who teach Honors Seminars during the year will be
available to suvervise the honors theses. A regular meeting time and room
will be scheduled for the thesis course to meet.
There are some occasions when working with another English faculty
member makes sense. For example, if a student wishes to
complete a thesis project in medieval studies, and already has a strong
mentoring relationship with Professor Remley, and he has agreed to work
with that student independently, that student must
provide a written intellectual justification to Professor Harkins. If
Professor Harkins approves the proposal, the student will be asked to submit an
approval form with Professor Remely's signature. The student will work with
Professor Remley on the content of the thesis, but WILL STILL BE
REQUIRED TO REGISTER FOR AND ATTEND ONE OF THE SECTIONS OF ENGL 496,
Major Conference for Honors. ENGL 496 is designed to
cover critical aspects of the research process. The proposal, abstract,
outline, annotated bibliography, etc. It is also designed to provide Honors students
with an audience of their peers for developing their research, providing students
with an opportunity to workshop their research with their peers.
of English Honors
Before deciding to embark on English Honors, many students want to
know what benefits the program confers. Naturally, successful completion
of departmental honors means receiving an impressive additional credential.
Particularly for students applying to graduate or professional school,
graduating With Honors in English puts another attractive line on the
curriculum vitae. However, this should not be the sole motivation
for entering the Honors program, nor is it the most significant benefit.
Building community: The Honors Program is a means
for students to build community within one of the largest and most diverse
departments in the College of Arts and
Sciences. Honors students inevitably share the common characteristics
of active intellectual engagement, curiosity and a willingness to explore
new topics and perspectives, and a strong belief in the intrinsic value of
scholarship in our discipline. One of the goals of Honors is learning how
to work effectively within a community of scholars, how to engage in a critical
with one's peers, how to negotiate a multiplicity of perspectives and intelligently
stake out intellectual commitments. Honors should provide a more intimate "home" within
the larger, vaguer framework of our rather ungainly major. By bringing 40
students together into a cohort and giving them multiple opportunities to
meet and work together and with the 4-person faculty team, we hope that a
strong sense of community will emerge.
Program coherence: The Honors program provides a coherent
and cumulative program of study for students by focusing them on a defined
of inquiry or debate. Because the content and concerns of the honors
courses are coordinated, students should build a strong sense of
a topic or issue. By the end of the year, students should have a firm
understanding of what it means to carry on a sustained conversation, to push
the lines of inquiry to a new kind of depth and sophistication, and to
appreciate questions from a multiplicity of critical perspectives. The
topic of the Honors program in any given year will be defined in broad
enough terms that every student will find an appealing point of entry rather
than feeling as if they're being forced to study a narrow subject.
Graduate School preparation: Although Honors can be
of great value to any English major, the program
is particularly beneficial to prospective graduate students. The advanced
skills described above are precisely those needed by applicants to graduate
and professional school. Honors also puts students in an ideal position
to fulfill the requirements of a successful graduate school application.
Strong letters of recommendation are sometimes difficult for UW students
to get, even if they are intellectually gifted, because their professors
simply don’t know them well enough. Two quarters of seminar work
and a term of intensive independent study means that faculty members get
a very clear, detailed picture of their students’ abilities and accomplishments.
This can translate into the effective letters of recommendation. Most
graduate programs in English also require a critical writing sample, an essay
of 12-20 pages, that is an extremely important part of the application.
The Honors Program provides ample opportunities for producing essays suitable
for use as a critical writing sample.
Students hoping to complete graduate degrees in English sometimes
ask if it is “necessary” to do English Honors to be competitive.
The answer to this question is: No. Many eligible students
have compelling reasons for choosing not to participate in the program.
Talent reveals itself in numerous ways to graduate admissions committees.
The absence of Honors course work on the transcript will not damage the
prospects of a student with a clear record of academic excellence.
an article about the English Honors Program featured on the University Honors
University Honors is an umbrella term to designate
all UW Honors programs. For a thorough explanation of the three different tracks in
Honors-- Interdisciplinary Honors (core curriculum), Departmental Honors, and College Honors
(combination of Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors), please go to the University of Washington
Honors Program web page,
The Honors Curriculum: Options and Requirements.
High Scholarship Recognition
The following forms of recognition are awarded to first baccalaureate
degree, matriculated students in residence. Undergraduate students
in all colleges of the University are eligible regardless of membership
in the Honors Program.
Quarterly Dean’s List: A high scholarship notation
is made on the transcript of each undergraduate student who attains a quarterly
GPA of at least 3.50 for 12 UW graded credits. “Dean’s List” is entered
on the line below the quarter’s courses on the transcript and a congratulatory
letter is sent from the dean of the student’s home school or college.
Dean’s List: The following undergraduates
receive yearly high scholarship recognition in the form of a certificate:
- Undergraduates who have attended three quarters of the academic
year (Summer through Spring) and who have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.50
or higher in at least 12 graded credits in each of the three quarters.
- Undergraduates who have attended the University for four quarters
of the school year (Summer through Spring) with a 3.50 or higher GPA in 12
or more graded credits in each of three quarters, and a cumulative GPA of
3.50 for the four quarters combined.
Such students are recognized by the notation “Annual Dean’s
the last quarter’s grades for the year, and by a certificate of recognition
from the dean of the student’s home school or college.
View UW English majors on the Annual Dean's
Baccalaureate honors (summa cum laude, magna cum
laude, cum laude) are awarded at graduation based on GPA
and other factors (see the Registrar's
Office website for criteria). The
University’s Faculty Council on Academic Standards Honors Subcommittee
determines annually the proportions of the graduating class to receive baccalaureate
honors. GPAs are then determined by the Committee and the Registrar's
Office to yield the specified proportions within each undergraduate college. University
minimum GPAs are specified for each baccalaureate honors level, and college
GPA minima must at least equal annually stipulated University
minima. (For the most recent GPA requirements for the Seattle
campus, see http://www.washington.edu/students/reg/HonorsReqS.html.)
Freshman Medal. Annually, the sophomore having the most
distinguished academic record for the first year of his or her program receives
the freshman medal. The notation "Freshman Medalist" is made on the
transcript. Selection is based primarily on GPA, but the rigor and
quality of the student's program are also considered. Only students who have
earned 36 or more graded credits in residence at the UW will be considered
for this honor.
Sophomore and Junior Medals. Annually, the junior having the
most distinguished academic record for the first two years of his or her
program receives the sophomore medal. The senior having the
most distinguished academic record for the first three years of his or her
program receives the junior medal. The notation "Sophomore
Medalist" or "Junior Medalist" is made on the transcript. Selection
is based primarily on GPA, but the rigor and quality of the student's program
are also considered. Only students who have earned 40 or more graded
credits in residence at the UW will be considered for these honors.
President's Medal. The President's Medal, which is conferred
at commencement, recognizes the graduating senior who has the most distinguished
academic record. Only students who have earned at least 90 credits
at the UW may be considered. The notation "President's Medalist" is
made on the transcript, under the name of the degree awarded.
Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Beta Kappa is a national
honorary organization whose purpose is to recognize and honor students
with excellent undergraduate academic records. Requirements for election
are established by each local
chapter. The requirements are meant to ensure that members have
had a quality liberal education; at the UW students in all colleges are
welcomed if they meet these standards.
Election: Students do not apply to Phi Beta Kappa.
Instead, the Registrar’s Office provides the UW chapter with the transcripts
of all students who meet the credit and GPA requirements. The chapter
then determines whether the general education and upper-division breadth
requirements are met. If so, the student is mailed an offer of election.
Click here to see a list of recent UW English majors
invited to join Phi Beta Kappa.
Golden Key National Honor
Golden Key is a national
interdisciplinary academic honors organization whose purpose is to recognize
and encourage scholastic achievement in all undergraduate fields of study. Golden
Key seeks to bring together undergraduates, college faculty, and administrators
in developing and maintaining high standards of education
and in promoting voluntary service to school and community.
Election: Students are normally invited into
Golden Key each Fall quarter on the basis of meeting credit and class rank
criteria. At other times, students who have subsequently become eligible
may contact the UW
Golden Key chapter office for information.
Sigma Tau Delta
Members of the UW
chapter of Sigma
Tau Delta, an international English honor society, note that the society's
purpose is to "confer
distinction upon students of the English language and literature, while
also providing an opportunity
to create a sense of community in the department."