Department of Literature and Writing

The study of literature and writing has a number of goals: to familiarize the student with the work of important writers; to introduce her to the individual and cultural values, ideas, debates, and insights woven into literature; to sharpen her skill as a writer and creative thinker. Whether she aims to study literature or create her own written works, repeated practice in speaking, thinking, and writing about literature is a way of helping the student discover her own voice, develop her skills of critical analysis, and gain confidence in herself as an independent thinker.

Programs in this Department:

Undergraduate Learning Outcomes

Basic Disciplinary Skills 

  • Students will be able to read closely and critically, write critical essays driven by their own insights in conversation with those of published scholars, do research independently, reflect critically on their own analytical thinking, intelligently about their insights in discussions or formal presentations.

Basic Disciplinary Content 

  • Students will be able to think about literature on the basis of a reasonably broad knowledge of individual literary works, literary history in different periods (both British and American), and literary or critical theories.

Critical-Historical Awareness

  • Students will be able to discuss how literary works fit into the context of their times and grow out of a society with a particular history and politics. Students will be able to discern the complex relationship of representation to issues of power in relation to race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Life Skills after Graduation

  • Students will be able to write insightfully, read closely, think critically, and do independent research in ways that serve them after graduation, in a variety of career paths or further degree programs. They will be especially aware of the power of language and discourse to shape thought and action. 

Caring about Literature as Art

  • Students will be able to recognize, appreciate, and express original insights regarding the artistry of literary works. Some will be able to pursue the creation of such art works on their own.