Minoring in Literature

A Literature Minor lays the foundation for advanced study by enhancing the student’s appreciation of major narrative, poetic and dramatic texts in relation to the cultures that produced them. In addition, it allows the student to develop a familiarity with interdisciplinary approaches, and encourages engagement with newer media.

The Literature Minor, with a focus in film and literature, is designed to allow a student to make a smooth transition from a prior Concentration in Literature, as well as to progress smoothly towards a Major in Literature (should the student so desire).

Naturally, students are permitted to complete their Institute HASS Concentration in the process of completing a Minor in Literature. However, a student may not complete both a Minor and a Major in the same field.

Forms and Process

Students desiring to Minor must meet the designated Literature Minor Advisor to plan out the course of study, and to submit the Proposal for Minor form to both the Literature Headquarters (14N-407) and SHASS Academic Administrator (4-240). The designated Minor Advisors for Literature change from year to year. To see a list of current advisors, click here.

Don’t worry if you change your mind regarding the specific subjects you want to take to complete the Minor. The Minor Advisor will work with you to re-configure the initial plan. All subsequent changes to the initial plan must be approved by the Minor Advisor and entered on the Completion of Minor form, generally submitted to the Literature and SHASS offices at the beginning of the student’s final semester at MIT. Upon successful completion of the Minor (or in the semester in which you are taking the final subjects needed to complete the Minor), you will meet again with your advisor to submit the Completion of Minor form. At that time you will need to have on hand your original Minor proposal and a copy of your grade report. If you have mislaid your original Minor proposal, please request a copy from the Literature Headquarters (14N-407).

Note that you must file the Completion form by the end of the first three weeks of the term in which you plan to receive your S.B. degree. If you fail to do so, you will be subject to a late fee and the preparation of your final degree may be delayed. Please also note that credit for a Minor can only be awarded at the same time that the student normally receives his or her SB degree: students may not subsequently or retroactively petition to receive a Minor. The Proposal for Minor and the Completion of Minor forms are available at the SHASS Dean’s Office (4-240).

Using Transfer Credits for a Literature Minor

The Literature Faculty has carefully defined and stringent requirements governing the transferring of credits earned at universities or colleges outside MIT. There is no automatic guarantee that students who receive transfer credit can count the transferred courses as part of their Minor program. Transfer credit may be used in a Minor only at the discretion of the Minor Advisor, in conjunction with whom students develop and tailor their Minor programs.

(Images: “Ferdinand Listening to the Spirits/Shakespeare’s The Tempest” by Arthur Rackham, 1926; “L’Œil, comme un étrange Ballon, monte vers l’infini.” by Odilon Redon, 1882)

Requirements for a Literature Minor

The Minor Program requires six subjects arranged as indicated below into three levels or tiers of study (Introductory, Intermediate, and Seminars):

Tier 1 (Introductory): At least one and no more than two courses from the list of Introductory literature subjects (21L.000 through 21L.048).

Tier II (Samplings and Intermediate): Two or three courses from the Literature Intermediate subjects (21L.430 through 21L.518). Two six-unit Samplings subjects (21L.310 through 21L.325, 21L.338 and 339, and 21L.345 through 21L.355) may be combined by petition to count as one twelve-unit Intermediate subject.

Tier III (Seminars): At least two subjects from the list of Seminars (21L.701 through 21L.715).

In addition, the Literature Focus and Film Focus is subject to the constraints in force for all HASS minors (see below).


Requirements for a Literature Minor (Film Focus)

This minor pathway establishes a foundation in the study of film history, aesthetics, and criticism and encourages the comparative study of film in relation to literature, drama, and theoretical methods of analysis. It consists of six subjects arranged into three levels of study. Consult with the Minor Advisor on approved courses.

Three Required Subjects, taken from the introductory, intermediate and Seminar tiers of the Literature Curriculum, preferably in sequence. For example:

    • 21L.011 The Film Experience
    • 21L.431: Shakespeare and Film
    • 21L.433 Film Styles and Genres
    • 21L.435 Literature and Film
    • 21L.706 Studies in Film: This Seminar offering, which hones in on a particular topic in film study, studying it exhaustively, functions as a capstone for our proposed minor track.

Some of these subjects may be repeated for credit if the content is different and can therefore be taken more than once to fulfill the minor requirement. Any subsequent iteration of a subject would count towards the three restricted electives for this minor focus.

Three Restricted Electives to be chosen by the student in close consultation with a minor advisor. These three remaining classes are subject to the following restrictions:

    • At least one complementary subject from the Literature Curriculum that does not focus primarily on film but that ties into the student’s interests with regards to film. The subject(s) chosen may relate to the student’s interest in film in variety of ways. For instance, a student interested in performance might wish to select from our numerous drama/performance offerings; or, an interest in narrative may lead him or her to classes on fiction and prose representation; or, a
      thematic interest might make science-oriented subjects from our curriculum the natural fit. These possibilities are, of course, far from exhaustive: in designing their individual tracks, students will be expected to work closely with a minor advisor and justify in writing the rationale behind their choices.
    • At most two subjects in which film analysis is the primary focus may be taken in a section outside of Literature or transferred in from a program outside MIT. While students may fulfill their minor requirements within Literature, we encourage them to explore film-related offerings in other sections/departments at MIT (and beyond) to complement their work within Literature. As above, the choices will be made in close consultation with a minor advisor and the rationale behind the choice explicitly reflected upon in writing.

In addition, the Literature Focus and Film Focus are subject to the constraints in force for all HASS minors:

  • Of the six subjects required for the Minor, at most five shall count toward satisfaction of the eight-subject HASS Requirement. Of these five, at most one shall count as HASS-Distribution subject.
  • The Junior/Senior Pass/Fail option may not be used.
  • At the discretion of the Advisor, transfer credit may be used to fulfill a minor in HASS (see description of restricted electives above for elaboration).
  • Credit for a minorcan only be awarded at the same time the student would normally receive the Bachelor of Science degree.
  • The minor program should be designated by the end of the sophomore year and no later than two full terms before receiving the SB degree. Designate a minor by completing an Application for a Minor form in consultation with a Literature Minor Advisor. Upon successful completion of the minor program, submit a Completion of a Minor form by the END OF THE THIRD WEEK of your final term, or you may be subject to a late fee and delay in graduation.
  • You cannot major and minor in the same field.
  • The HASS Minor may not be taken in the same field as the Humanities component of the 21E and 21S major.