Literature Courses in an Online BA in English Program

To earn an English degree online, you must complete a total of 120 credit hours. Thirty-nine credit hours need to be in courses in the major, which are primarily literature courses. (One class is usually three credit hours.)

Overview of Literature Courses

Online literature courses provide a broad and diverse perspective on literature. For example, the options for British literature include English 3020 — British Literature I, which covers the literature of England and its colonies up until 1798, and English 3072 — British Literature II, which covers 1798 to the present. British literature courses also include a study of Shakespeare’s drama and poetry — English 2148.

Online literature courses also cover the study of American literature, including Southern and African-American literature. Students can take English 3070 — American Literature I, which covers the first texts written in America up until the American Civil War, English 3173 — Southern Literature, and English 4674 — Major African American Writers.

Students can take world literature in English translation in English 4370 — Major Writers World Literature. There are also a number of courses that specialize in specific genres of literature: poetry, drama, the novel and more.

Reasons to Take Literature Courses

There are three primary reasons to take literature courses. First, they inform us about the human condition. People have always been storytellers — from telling their families about their workdays to creating stories for entertainment. Stories, poems and essays can impose order on random experience in a way we can relate to.

The assigned readings in online literature classes have stood the test of time. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, students learn about love and its dangers. In Walden, an American classic, Thoreau explores the solitude and beauty of nature as he tries to escape the pressures of society. In contemporary American literature, students may read Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Song of Solomon — both about survival of slavery and injustice.

Second, literature creates empathy and understanding. Literature allows you to enter the worlds of people who might differ from you in culture, language, status or age. What does it feel like, for example, to be a refugee? A mother trying to rescue her children from a life of poverty? A struggling woman in an age before women had opportunities beyond the home? Literature can answer these questions. It gives us a glimpse into the feelings and experiences of others.

Third, literature classes provide a solid foundation in the humanities. Reading the classics of British, American and world literature provides in-depth exposure to the humanities. These texts can shine a light on history, culture and art throughout the ages and across cultures. Students in literature classes will often discuss the intentions of the author and what the meaning of a particular piece might be. Does the style of the writing give us any clues? What is the historical background? Is the work still significant today? Students in literature classes draw wisdom and insight from studying literary classics.

How Literature Courses Benefit Your Career

Online literature courses are reading-intensive, and people who read a great deal tend to be better writers. They have honed their ability to write concise prose due, in part, to constant exposure to excellent writing. Good writing skills are essential for careers in writing, editing or teaching, but they are also important in business, law and advertising.

In addition, part of the coursework in online literature courses requires students to analyze works of fiction or poetry. Analysis requires critical thinking and organization — two qualities employers want to see in job candidates.

As a result, students who earn an English degree online have a wide variety of jobs to choose from. Unlike degrees in business or the sciences, which may limit students to certain fields, a degree in English can be useful in many departments across many organizations. You might write ad copy or newsletters for a nonprofit. You can edit visitor education materials for a museum or teach junior high English. An English degree can prepare you for a legal career or graduate studies in the humanities.

Advantages of a Degree Online

An online degree program is a flexible and convenient choice for people who need to work as they pursue a degree. Coursework takes place over a seven-week term, and students can access and complete it whenever and wherever it is convenient.

Learn more about the LSUA online BA in English program.


The New Yorker: Why Teach English?

New Republic: The Economic Case for Saving the Humanities

The Huffington Post: What to Do Wit ha B.A. in English?

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