Sep 25, 2021  
2019-2020 College of Liberal Arts (Admitted Fall 2019/Spring 2020) 
2019-2020 College of Liberal Arts (Admitted Fall 2019/Spring 2020) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


About the Program

Literature encompasses the history of human attempts to remain “wide-awake” in response to experience, whether that experience unfolds in the realms of dreams, ideas, nature, urban life, political terror, or sensual pleasure. Literary texts record the questions that people or communities have found urgent, troublesome or exciting. For most human experiences and emotions, there are no adequate words until writers invent them. Therefore, the study of literature cultivates deep attentiveness to and love of language. The production of literary texts is hugely various, criss-crossed continually by movements and borrowings from other cultures and by richly textured relationships between writers and other artists or works of art and new ideas about the purposes of art.

The English major organizes your access to this history by examining texts along both a chronological spectrum (from Anglo-Saxon oral epics to contemporary graphic novels) and a geographical and cultural spectrum (from Celtic to Caribbean, from South African to African-American). As a student of English, you will develop your skills as a reader of literary texts; you will learn various approaches to the study of literature, among them biographical, intertextual, genre study, cultural and historical, feminist, postcolonial; and you will be encouraged to connect your literary study to work in other fields such as history, ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, biblical and classical studies, film studies, performance studies, visual art, theater, religious studies, and philosophy.

Students should plan their majors in consultation with their advisers with an eye to breadth and variety as well as to depth and coherence. By the end of the English major, students will have acquired a breadth of knowledge historically, chronologically and geographically as well as depth of knowledge reflected in a sequence of courses in a particular period, genre, theme or approach. The process of selecting courses for the major and readjusting plans as interests develop is part of the experience of the major; this process advances students’ understanding of how the study of literature is organized and helps them to map the landscape of the field for themselves.

The purpose of the major is:

  1. To provide a purposeful approach to study of literature;
  2. To strengthen students’ skills as readers of literature and as writers about literature;
  3. To provide a grounding in literary history;
  4. To provide a grounding in a range of approaches that constitute contemporary literary study;
  5. To encourage in-depth work in an area.


  • Chair: Neil Levi, Professor
  • Professors: Sandra Jamieson (Director of Writing across the Curriculum), Wendy Kolmar, Amy Koritz (Director of the Center for Civic Engagement)
  • Associate Professors: Summer Harrison, Lisa Lynch (Director of the New York Semester on Media and Communication), Shakti Jaising
  • Assistant Professors: Hannah Wells, Courtney Zoffness, Tomás Morín
  • Visiting Assistant Professor: Jens Lloyd
  • Professor Emeriti: Robert Ready, Peggy Samuels

Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations

A student receiving a 4 or 5 on the English Language and Composition examinations may apply that to satisfy one writing intensive course. AP credit may not be applied to the major or minor in English literature, nor may it be used to fulfill the general education requirement in literature. See pages 15-16 for further information about AP credits.

Graduate School Courses

See the Graduate School catalog for Graduate School courses. Qualified juniors and seniors may take certain graduate courses for credit toward the bachelor’s degree, with the proper approval.

London Semester

See the program’s catalog entry  for details.


About the Program

Students may complete a minor in writing with an emphasis either in nonfiction or in creative writing. Independent study in writing is ordinarily undertaken only after a student has completed the writing workshops in the student’s chosen genre.

Program Director: Patrick Philips