The Literature program is designed for students interested in literary studies who do not want to limit their programs to a single national literature. The major allows students to develop knowledge of multiple languages and cultures, and can be the foundation of an international education.

Freshmen with a broad interest in the humanities might consider the Literature major, because it allows the study of literature to be combined with work in history, philosophy, art, film, and other fields. Students may also pursue particular thematic interests such as gender issues, literature’s historical context, or religious and political dimensions of literature. The Literature major offers a standard track, a film track, and a translation track.

Prospective majors should begin or continue language study during their freshman year. Interested students are also encouraged to take one or two courses that include some major texts of the Western literary tradition and count toward the major. These courses include:

  • DRST 001, Directed Studies: Literature
  • DRST 002, Directed Studies: Literature
  • ENGL 129, Tragedy in the European Literary Tradition
  • ENGL 130, Epic in the European Literary Tradition


Literature major

  • LITR 120, Introduction to Narrative
  • LITR 122, World Poetry and Performance (also required for the standard track)

Film track

  • LITR 143, World Cinema

Translation track

  • LITR 348, The Practice of Literary Translation

The following prerequisites are most often fulfilled in freshman or sophomore year and may be taken in any order.

  • LITR 120, Introduction to Narrative, is a team-taught course. Most of the work is given in small seminars in which students can experiment with practical criticism as they discuss narrative forms ranging from folktales and short stories to novels, psychiatric and legal case studies, graphic novels, and film. Texts are drawn from a wide variety of periods and cultures. The course includes periodic lectures.
  • LITR 122, World Poetry and Performance, is a team-taught course that examines a wide variety of poetry and performance—lyric and epic poetry, drama, film, and song—drawn from a broad range of cultures and time periods.
  • LITR 143, World Cinema, analyzes and contextualizes selected films from four continents, and explores the different functions served by the film medium since World War II.
  • LITR 348, The Practice of Literary Translation, explores the history, theory, and practice of translation through case studies from ancient, medieval, and modern languages.

In addition to the prerequisites, students in the major must take one course in literary theory, LITR 300, Introduction to Theory of Literature. This is a more advanced course than LITR 120, LITR 122, LITR 143, and LITR 348, and freshmen who want to take it should first consult the instructor.

Students interested in the Literature major should consult the director of undergraduate studies (DUS).