Why study literature?

Literature is where and how we explore the possibilities of the languages that are at the heart of being human. Students in the English Department at Colby become keen analytical readers in the broadest sense, cogent writers, and versatile critical and creative thinkers.

Colby English majors read and write across analog and digital platforms. They are thinkers and makers.

At Colby you can major in English, major in English with a Creative Writing concentration, or minor in English or Creative Writing.

Colby is one of very few liberal arts colleges in America offering both a major concentration and a minor in Creative Writing. Students choose from classes in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, environmental writing, playwriting (through the Theatre Department), documentary radio, performance poetry, and other forms.

Literature classes treat a wide variety of subjects from Chaucer to science fiction, from Shakespeare to environmental humanities. We work closely with the rare book librarians in Special Collections and with the curators at the Colby Museum of Art. Our small classes encourage you to take on innovative projects.

Many classes offer hands-on activities, from paper making to printing to digital production. Students study abroad, engage in research with professors, and find exciting internships.

Careers after Colby. What will you do?

As graduates of the Colby English department you will be well prepared for professional schools of law, medicine, business, and education, as well as for careers in communications, non-profits, publishing and politics.

Graduate and professional schools are eager to admit students who write well and think clearly, so Colby’s English graduates are very competitive in graduate admissions. Recent grads are now studying at Northwestern School of Journalism, Princeton University, and Northeastern School of Law. Visit our alumni page to see what our new graduates are doing.

At Colby you will develop personal relationships with members of the English Department, who are highly accomplished in their scholarship, teaching, and creative productions. In the English Department you will find a mentor who will come to know you well and who will help you plan your academic study and your future.

Our Vision

The Colby English and Creative Writing department fosters engagement with multiple media as objects of study and making.

We encourage students to embrace writing now.

We foster critical engagement with past literatures and cultures.

We research how the past makes the present yet also differs from it.

We support study of global Anglophone literatures and environmental / ecological understanding.

What you will learn

Students and faculty in English and Creative Writing become active learners engaged in

  • Sustaining a reshaped literary canon
  • Reading and making across genres, platforms, and media
  • Integrating making and analysis
  • Building community and listening across differences
  • Writing with others at Colby, in Waterville, and far beyond
  • Understanding how representation shapes the world
  • Bring both analytical and creative skills to global histories and ecological challenges
  • Finding pleasure and personal meaning in reading and writing together


Department Chair

Mary Ellis Gibson
Arthur Jeremiah Roberts Professor of Literature