Why study literature?
Literature is where and how we explore the possibilities of language itself, and language itself is at the heart of being human in every context--cultural, political, social and personal. This insight is part and parcel of all courses in the department. Studying literature helps students become keen analytical readers in the broadest sense, cogent writers, and versatile critical and creative thinkers.
Initial courses in the department provide basic tools for reading and analyzing key genres of literature, including practice discussing and writing about literature through various theoretical lenses and in various cultural contexts. The courses that follow engage students in important periods and works of British, American, and post-colonial literature, from the medieval period to the present. Many courses also introduce critical and cultural theory relevant not only to literature of the past but also to the immediate present and future--our changing culture of electronic communications and global interconnection. In their senior year, eligible students can work with a faculty member on an Honors Project of their own design.The department's Creative Writing Program provides rigorous training in several genres--poetry, fiction, drama, creative non-fiction and screen writing. English majors can add a Creative Writing concentration to their major by fulfilling a sequence of courses. The Creative Writing Program and concentration is also open to majors in other departments.
English majors benefit from the distinctively small size of many courses in the major, the opportunities for discussion, individual attention and self-initiative in these courses, and the ability to develop personal relationships with members of the faculty, who are highly accomplished in their scholarship, teaching, and literary productions. Our graduates find themselves well prepared for professional schools of law, medicine, and business, as well as for careers in communication, industry, and government. Some majors become teachers; some become writers; some go into journalism, publishing, library science or one of the many other fields that depend on professionals with sophisticated analytical and verbal skills.
The English department is located on the second floor of Miller Library. Contact the department secretary, with questions regarding English at Colby.
Department Chair: Cedric Gael Bryant