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English Literature

English lit class

Department Overview

Why Study English Literature at Swarthmore?

In the Department of English Literature, we study how literature shapes experience. Students learn how to read closely, think inventively, and write creatively and analytically. We offer classes on a wide range of topics, from novels to new media, from critical theory to popular culture, from poetry to digital humanities. In these classes, students explore how the form of a text illuminates its meaning; how literature both reflects and challenges structures of race, gender, sexuality, and class; how historical circumstances enable imaginative expression and how imaginative expression changes history. Our curriculum emphasizes writing in English from the US, the UK, South Asia, the Caribbean, Ireland, and South Africa, and educates students in methods including critical race and ethnic studies, feminist studies, environmental studies, and queer studies. We teach students how to analyze a world of texts and to use their voices in it.

Students are eligible for paid internships during the summer to produce original creative writing projects and pursue guided research in literary study. In collaboration with faculty, students also work on a variety of digital humanities projects based at Swarthmore and at archives and universities nationwide. Along with a vibrant public culture of lectures and events featuring prominent novelists, poets, and cultural theorists, the department creates opportunities for students to present their research to peers and faculty on campus, as well as at regional and national academic conferences. Majors and minors in English Literature succeed in careers as diverse as law, education, medicine, finance, journalism, publishing, academia, and community organizing.

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