College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
General Education Literature
The General Education requirements of the College include three Humanities courses. One of these, ENGL 1200, Interpretation of Literature, is required for everyone (with the exception of those students who have declared an English major). The General Education Literature Program is responsible for the design and teaching of that course, as well as other General Education Literature courses. This site, produced by the GEL textbook committee, provides teaching resources and information: https://gel.sites.uiowa.edu/.
ENGL 1200 is a course required for almost all undergraduates in the College of Liberal Arts. Students who declare an English major may satisfy the ENGL 1200 requirement with another Literary, Visual and Performing Arts course. Therefore, students in ENGL 1200 are probably not English majors, although the course often creates interest in the major. Students must satisfy the Rhetoric requirement (i.e. a course focusing on argument, both in writing and in speaking) before taking ENGL 1200. Thus, typically, students in ENGL 1200 are either second-semester freshmen or first-semester sophomores.
Building on previously acquired skills of reading and writing, ENGL 1200 seeks to reinforce in every student a lifetime habit of frequent, intelligent, and satisfying reading. The course focuses primarily on "ways of reading," asking students to become aware of themselves as readers, to learn how to deal with different kinds of texts, and to understand how texts exist within larger historical, social, political, and cultural contexts. The central concern of the course is the act of interpretation, as students use and refine their skills of reading, speaking, and writing to respond critically and sensitively to literary texts. Books taught in ENGL 1200 give students readings of quality and breadth. They come from several genres (fiction, drama, poetry, essay, etc.), more than a single century, and more than one country. The reading list includes a significant diversity of race, gender, and social background among the authors read.