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English majors at Reed develop a rigorous understanding of English and American literature as well as literature in translation. Promoting original work, new questions, and the production of new knowledge, the department offers courses on a range of critical topics such as race theory, Shakespearean mimesis, contemporary American poetry, literary history, and narrative theory. A series of creative writing courses, taught as workshops, provides a forum in which to hone writing skills and experiment with new forms.

Students studying English at Reed become in-depth researchers. Working closely with their professors, they focus on critical methods, the interpretation of texts, and the history of literary genres. They also learn about recent developments in critical theory and traditional practices of close reading.

Many English majors form associations with other disciplines, including history, theatre, and American studies. The program also has a visiting writer series that brings celebrated poets and prose writers to campus. A new major in comparative literature offers students the opportunity to study literary questions that do not fall neatly into a particular national canon or who want to explore relationships between literature, film, and the visual and performing arts.

Reed is ranked second in the nation for the percentage of graduates who go on to earn doctorates in English and literature.

Professor profile

Professor Pancho Savery

Modern & African American Literature
photo of Pancho Savery teaching in a classroom

Professor Pancho Savery studies modern and contemporary drama, poetry, and fiction, with a particular focus on African American fiction. He teaches the Beat Generation, critical race theory, and Ibsen and Shaw.

Pancho also teaches Humanities 110—an intensive yearlong course required of all first-year students—and is a strong advocate for the conference-style learning that happens at Reed.

Pancho has advised dozens of senior theses; recent theses have addressed Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Pancho is also on the board of directors for two Portland theatre companies and works closely with the Portland Jazz Festival.

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  • The department offers introductory courses in drama, fiction, poetry, and creative writing.
  • Upper-level classes cover topics like poetry and modernism, encyclopedic fiction, and literary theory.
  • The junior seminar, a course required of all English majors, provides a theoretical introduction to literary history with a critical evaluation of intertextuality.
  • To satisfy the divisional foreign language requirement, each English major takes two courses in a foreign literature read in the original language.

Related Majors

Four established interdisciplinary majors combine the field of English with a compatible field of study:

  • American Studies
  • Comparative Literature
  • History-Literature
  • Literature-Theatre

Outside the Classroom

Eddings Opportunity Grants
Check out grants exclusively for English majors to do independent research.

Visiting Writers Series
Attend regular readings, discussions, and classes with visiting poets and authors.

Renn Fayre Softball
Join our department’s annual recreational team, “The Catchers in the Rye.”

Annual Barbeque
Eat and socialize with literature and language scholars in your division.

What Alumni Do After Graduation

  • 30% Education
  • 20% Writing and Creative Fields
  • 13% Graduate School
  • 11% Law, Business, or Government
  • 10% Business/Consulting
  • 9% Other
  • 7% Health Care

What Do Alumni Do?

JD Candidate
UCLA School of Law
Isabel Lafky ’21

Program Assistant
Cornell Law School
Jordan Hennessee ’21

Development Assistant
Raquel Diaz ’20

Senior Editor
Arianna Rebolini ’12

L.E.K. Consulting
Michael Stapleton ’10

Writer and Novelist
Josh Riedel ’07

Senior Manager
User Experience, Amazon Mobile
Michaela Rodwick ’93

Financial Writer
Thomson Reuters Award
Rachel Wolcott ’93

Science Correspondent
NPR & WGBH Boston
Arun Rath ’92