English majors looking to get more in their department now have the option of two more specializations in the fields of psychology and environmental studies.

The two new emphases – Literature & Environment and Literature & Mind – join the existing areas of American Cultures & Global Contexts, Early Modern Studies and Literature & Culture of Information. Students choosing to specialize in the major are then able to focus their electives in a field where faculty are conducting extensive research.

According to English Dept. Undergraduate Advisor Ann Wainwright, students in these specializations will take classes that existed prior to the introduction of the emphases, but with slight alterations to adjust to the thematic concerns of the area of interest.

“Some of these courses have been taught forever,” Wainwright said. “However, these courses, when taught by a professor affiliated with the specialization, are now being taught from the point of view of the specialization.”

Professor Ken Hiltner, who directs the Literature & Environment specialty, said the emphasis explores how society’s perception of the natural world influences writing.

“Literary representations [of nature and the environment] are not only produced by particular cultures,” Hiltner said. “They also play a significant role in generating those cultures.”

Meanwhile, Literature & Mind, led by professor Aranye Fradenburg, examines how literature is influenced by psychology, philosophy and even neurobiology.

The decision to introduce these new specializations was made due to interest expressed by both the faculty and English students.

First year English major Jake Burne said prior to hearing about the two new specializations he was unaware of any emphases in the department at all.

“I hadn’t heard of these specializations before [the two new ones were introduced],” Burne said. “But I have to say that the Literature & Mind stuff actually sounds pretty cool.”

In order to receive either of these new specializations, or any of the three previously existing specializations, students pursuing a major in English need to take any four electives taught by instructors affiliated with the specialization as part of their required seven.