Literature and Language

Chinese, classics, English and creative writing, French, German, Russian, Spanish

The division of literature and languages offers a variety of coursework within each of its seven departments-including literary theory and history, intensive Frenchexploration of specific authors or literary periods, cultural studies, creative writing, and foreign language proficiency. Majors within the division include Chinese, Classics, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. The division also offers a general literature major.

Divisional and general college requirements encourage students to take courses in related fields outside the division, such as in the arts, philosophy, religion, psychology, or history. A strong creative writing program within the English department allows some English majors to write a creative thesis.

The study of foreign language uses integrated approaches to skill development in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Language programs are enhanced by

  • a comprehensive language laboratory, open 85 hours a week during the academic year
  • five residential language houses that offer many extracurricular cultural, social, and intellectual activities
  • native-speaking visiting language scholars who live in each of the language houses to support the development of language skills and enhance the cultural programs
  • small group language practice sessions outside the classroom

Lit ClassInterdisciplinary majors and study abroad at cooperating institutions offer expanded opportunities for the student majoring in the division. A study abroad experience is recommended for majors in foreign language departments, with a broad offering of programs sponsored by the college. Established interdisciplinary majors include literature-history, classics-religion, and literature-theater. Students may also apply to develop their own interdisciplinary major.

The development of analytical and writing skills, broad literary and cultural knowledge, and disciplined creative expression form the basis for divisional graduates to become highly successful in a wide variety of careers. Alumni from the division include poets, filmmakers, editors, critics, translators, and teachers, but they are just as often public servants, policy makers, attorneys, chefs, humanitarians, and business people.

Notable Alumni

  • imageNicolle La Fleur '93, Chinese: coordinates adoptions and relief efforts for orphaned and abandoned Chinese children for Cascade International Children's Services
  • Arun Rath '92, English: senior producer, WYNC radio, of On the Media
  • Sarah Dougher '90, classics: acclaimed post-punk musician
  • Joanna Lancaster '74, English: producer of films that include Ruthless People
  • Stephen Raichlen '75, French: syndicated food and cooking columnist and author
  • Lee Blessing '71, general literature: award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and television scriptwriter
  • imageVictor Friedman '70, Russian: chair of Balkan and Slavic linguistics at the University of Chicago and former policy analyst for the United Nations
  • Lorna Cutts Martens '68, German: professor of German, University of Virginia, and author
  • David Eddings '54, general literature: best-selling author of fantasy fiction
  • Philip Whalen '51, English: poet of the Beat generation (dec.)

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