Reed College Catalog

Majors in the Division of Literature and Languages choose a specific field of concentration, but are encouraged by divisional offerings and requirements not to regard national literatures as the sole criterion for organizing their programs of study.

A student may choose a concentration in ancient Mediterranean studies, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, or Spanish literature. Besides these majors, the division also offers a comparative literature major for students with special interests in a particular combination of literary fields. Students are urged to design a program that reflects a balance between courses stressing literary history and those emphasizing generic approaches to literature, or the study of a single author and literary theory.

One of the fields represented in the division is the study of cinema. Although there is no film studies major, a film and media studies minor is available. (Refer to the Interdisciplinary Programs section of this catalog for more information). The division offers a variety of courses on film on a regular basis, including courses on American, French, German, Jewish, Latin American, Russian, and Spanish cinema and cinematic adaptation of literature. Students can study film by taking such courses as part of their major within any of the division’s departments as well as the program in comparative literature.

Divisional and general college requirements ensure that students will take courses outside their concentration, but in fields related to it. For instance, one such requirement explicitly encourages work in the Division of the Arts. A number of courses within the division bring together works of widely differing national origins, some of which may be taught in translation. Students interested in engaging literary research that crosses the boundaries of national canons should consider the comparative literature major. In it, students will explore the analytic and interpretive challenges that arise at the intersections of different cultures and traditions. In addition to comparative literature, interdisciplinary majors under the supervision of special committees are also available; more information can be found in the catalog section on interdisciplinary majors.

Language Laboratory
The language laboratory, which coordinates activities with the instructional media center (IMC), is designed to augment language competence at all levels. The lab maintains assignments in Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and other languages. Twenty computer workstations with headsets and microphones are available for oral and aural language practice. The computer desktops also have shortcuts to alternate keyboard sets, spell checkers and grammar checkers, dictionaries, bookmarked websites, and other pertinent software. Many foreign-language computer functions are available as links on language course web pages and the IMC Language Resources page. The IMC is adjacent to the lab and houses a library of foreign-language films on videocassette and DVD for class or individual use.

The lab is open to students 85 hours per week during the academic year, providing a welcoming atmosphere for language studies.

Senior Thesis
The senior thesis may take the form of a detailed critical or historical essay on a topic drawn from any of the major fields of study embraced by the division, or it may take the form of a creative work. All thesis proposals must be approved by the division; approval of a creative thesis proposal is given only if the candidate shows a developed sense of their craft and submits a writing sample that shows promise of creative talent.

Divisional Requirements

  1. One unit in the Division of the Arts: art, dance, music, or theatre.
  2. Two units in literature outside the major, either in the original language or in translation. English majors may satisfy the division requirement with courses in which the readings are in the original language or in translation. Ancient Mediterranean studies majors may satisfy the division requirement with two units of 300-level literature in their second classical language.

Divisional Recommendations

  • Humanities 220, or two units from Humanities 211, 212, 231, and 232.
  • Transfer students should take a foreign-language placement test at the time of their first registration.
  • Students who wish to take a course in literary theory may wish to consider Literature 400. Other courses with a strong emphasis on literary theory include English 333, English 356, English 393, German/Literature 391, German/Literature 392, and Russian/Literature 413.
Creative Writing
Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies