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Literary Studies

“A word after a word after a word is power,” according to the contemporary Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. Appreciation of the power of language as an artistic medium is the goal of the literary studies concentration. The requirements of the concentration are designed to foster students’ skills as interpreters of literature and as writers, while also instilling appreciation of form and knowledge about literature and its relationship to social and political contexts.

The Simon’s Rock literature program is decidedly comparative, allowing students to study British and American literature as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Czech, and other literatures, in the original language or in translation. In keeping with the College’s commitment to interdisciplinary study, students choosing this concentration are encouraged to engage in complementary study in other areas, including Asian studies and gender studies, or fields other than literature. In the past, students have combined work in literary theory and women’s studies, political theory, and children’s literature, and the history of science with autobiography. The Division’s course offerings each semester represent a wide variety of literary approaches and contexts.


The concentration requires a minimum of eight courses (26 credits) in literature. Except for Foundational courses, these courses may be in English or in another language. The following courses are required:

  1. Two Foundational courses [Art of Poetry (Literature 201), Art of the Short Story (Literature 202), Art of the Novel (Literature 203), Art of Literary Analysis (Literature 204), Art of Autobiography (Literature 205), Art of Film (Literature 206), Art of Drama (Literature 207), Art of Narrative (Literature 208)], at least one of which must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
  2. Six Elective or Advanced courses, including two 300-level courses, in the following areas:
    1. Two courses in pre-20th-century literature, at least one of which must be in pre-19th-century literature
    2. Two courses in different literary genres
    3. Two courses that relate literature to a locale or a political or cultural context, one of which must be a literature course in translation or a 300-level course in another language

Because experience in the crafting of language can heighten one’s awareness of other writers’ achievements, students are encouraged to elect at least one creative writing course as part of their work in the concentration. Students interested in graduate study in literature or comparative literature should make a specific plan at Moderation with relevant faculty including a range of courses covering major pre-20th-century authors.

Recent Senior Theses

“‘At the black margin of the wood’: Natural Imagery in the Poetry of W.B. Yeats and A.E. Housman”
“On Mountain Lions and Desert Rats: A Thematic Analysis of the Works of Edward Abbey”
“The Same about the Same: A Freudian and Lacanian Reading of Faulkner”
“‘That Best of Ratiocination’: The Character of Narration in As I Lay Dying and Absalom, Absalom!”
“‘Abjectly True’: Science in the Writings of Gertrude Stein and Henry Adams”
“Books About Nothing: The Construction of Female Characters in Modernist Fiction”
“No Turning Back: Studies of Paul Bowles’s Novel, The Sheltering Sky”
“The Beheading Game: An Examination of the Story of the Death and Resurrection of the Year God in Arthurian Romance, Celtic Myth, and British Folklore”
“School and Experience in the Bildungsroman”
“The Garden of Forking Paths: A Musical Response in Three Movements”


Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Larry Burke, Chris Callanan, Emmanuel Dongala, Peter Filkins, Rebecca Fiske, Hal Holladay, Jamie Hutchinson, Brendan Mathews, Bernard Rodgers, Mileta Roe, Maryann Tebben, Colette van Kerckvoorde
Faculty Contact: Jamie Hutchinson