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How to Concentrate

cloverStudents come to Literature to fulfill their Concentrations for many reasons. Some love to read great books, plays, or poems, or want to explore film and media studies. Some wish to hone their skills in thinking and writing about literary questions. Others enjoy participating in lively discussion in small classes. Many have favorite authors or periods they want to know better.

We accommodate all levels of interest in literature. Many students go on to Minor or Major in Literature after completing a Concentration. We try to make that progression as seamless as possible.

If you have questions about Literature courses, do consult with faculty advisors at any time.

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What subjects count for a Literature Concentration?

The requirements for a Literature Concentration are three subjects that form a coherent group, including one subject from the Intermediate tier (400- & 500-) and one subject from the Seminar  (700-) tier. Two six-unit Samplings courses (300-) may be combined by petition to count as one Intermediate-tier subject for the purposes of a Concentration.  The Literature Faculty strongly recommends the addition of a fourth subject as a way of increasing the intellectual depth and range of a student's literary experience.

Certain subjects in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Foreign Languages and Literatures, and History may also qualify as part of a Literature Concentration when taken as a third (or fourth) subject beyond the two required subjects in Literature.

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How do I plan my Concentration?

Concentrations may be organized by genre (poetry, drama, fiction, film), historical period and/or national literature (Renaissance, nineteenth-century British and American literatures, modern American literature), subject of study (popular culture, media studies, literature and aesthetic theory), or theme (race and imperialism, literature and the city, etc.).

The precise focus of your Concentration is up to you. You are required to meet with a Concentration Advisor in Literature, who will help you define your Concentration and select courses that fit your intellectual interests and give focus to your Concentration proposal.

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How do I find a Concentration advisor?

Each term the names of two Concentration advisors are posted on the Faculty Advisors page of the Literature website and on the bulletin board outside the Headquarters (14N-407). Either advisor will be happy to meet with you to discuss your program. Don't worry if you complete your Concentration with a different advisor from the one you started with.

If you need further information you may also call Literature at 253-3581 or email lit@mit.edu.

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What forms do I fill out?

Students who wish to concentrate in Literature must discuss their plans in advance with a Concentration Advisor, ideally no later than by the end of their sophomore year. The first necessary step for a Concentration is to declare your plans to a Concentration Advisor, and – with his or her guidance – to fill out and submit a Concentration Proposal form.

Upon successful completion of the Concentration (or in the semester in which you are taking the final course needed to complete your Concentration), you will meet again with an advisor and submit a Concentration Completion form. At that time you will also need a copy of the original Concentration Proposal and a copy of your grades. If you have mislaid your original Proposal, stop by the Literature Headquarters (14N-407) to request a copy.

Concentration Proposal and Concentration Completion forms are available outside the SHASS Dean's office, 4-240. Keep in mind that Concentration is part of the 8 HASS subject requirement for the GIR and both forms must be submitted in time or you may be subject to a late fee or/and delay in graduation.

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What if I change my mind about my planned selection of subjects?

As long as your chosen subjects still make up a coherent group, you may indicate on the Completion form any subjects you have changed. Your Concentration Advisor is responsible for ratifying the changes.

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