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.
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 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.
All ENAM seniors complete the major with an independent writing and research project, conducted over one semester. Students considering graduate work in literature should write a critical thesis during their senior year.
Photograph: A. Harlan