Why study literature?

Literature is 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 analyzers and makers.  See Careers. 

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.

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
  • Bringing 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