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About the Department

The Department of English and American Literatures offers intensive study in literature by major writers from the medieval period to the present. It also provides experience in a variety of interpretive methods and cultural contexts and fosters the understanding and appreciation of literature as an artistic expression of human experience.  In addition, the department offers rich and varied opportunities for the development of creative writers in all genres. ENAM majors may follow the Literature Track, focusing primarily on literary interpretation, or the Creative Writing Track, which includes substantial coursework in Creative Writing in addition to a foundation in literary analysis.

The English and American Literatures major cultivates students' powers of empathy and sympathy as well as critical thinking, rigorous analysis, thorough and responsible research, and clear and persuasive writing. These skills and abilities are prized by employers in nearly every field, and are valuable as well for admission and success in graduate programs in law, medicine, journalism, and other disciplines. 

Course work begins with a core sequence designed to introduce students to close reading, literary theory and criticism, and the historical foundations of literature in English. This introduction is followed by lecture and seminar courses that expose students to the important periods and works of British, American, and Anglophone world literature, and to research methods in literary study.

ENAM seniors may elect to complete the major with an independent writing and research project--the senior thesis--conducted over one semester. Senior theses may be literary interpretation or creative work. Students considering graduate work in literature or writing are strongly encouraged to complete a thesis during their senior year.

Studying in Axinn
Photograph: A. Harlan

Department of English & American Literatures