Reed College Catalog


The general literature major is intended for the student having special interests, orientations, or competencies that are not readily accommodated by one of the other programs in the Division of Literature and Languages. The student majoring in general literature will follow an individual program of study that may include courses taken from the various departments within the division. Through the general literature major, the student may pursue an interest that combines two or more national literatures in a particular way: by genre (e.g., autobiography, the Bildungsroman), by period (e.g., the baroque, realism), or by a concept drawn from literary theory (e.g., feminism, structuralism).

The general literature program is overseen by a committee consisting of representatives from the division’s constituent departments. To be considered for admission into the general literature program, the student must submit a written statement to the chair of the committee no later than the end of the first semester of the junior year. The statement is to include an outline of the proposed course of study, a specific list of relevant courses, and a rationale designed to persuade the committee that the program makes sense in terms of coherent intellectual objectives and that these objectives could not be attained through one of the other division programs.

The junior qualifying examination is designed by the committee with the individual student’s interests in mind.

Requirements for the Major

  1. Standard divisional requirements in Literature and Languages: these are one unit in the Division of the Arts and two units of 300-level literature courses not in translation.
  2. In addition, at least six units of literature courses, no more than two of which will be 200-level courses, and four of which shall be within the student’s area of special interest.
  3. General Literature 470 (thesis).