Division of Literature & Languages

The Division of Literature and Languages offers a variety of coursework within each of its seven departments-including literary theory and history, intensive exploration of specific authors or literary periods, cultural studies, creative writing, and foreign language proficiency. Majors within the division include: Chinese; English; French; German; Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies; Russian; and Spanish. Among other possible programs are interdisciplinary majors involving literature. Established interdisciplinary majors include: American Studies; Comparative Literature; History-Literature; Literature-Theatre; and Religion and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. Students may also apply to develop their own interdisciplinary 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

Interdisciplinary 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.

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, physicians, chefs, humanitarians, and business people.

At the end of each academic year the Division sponsors a barbecue with a full menu such as corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, fruit salad, potato salad, pasta salad, with a faculty member grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie-burgers, followed by cookie decorations and a chance for students to trim up goodies for themselves, friends, or faculty.

The division has an electronic group mailing list for students in the Division of Literature and Languages as another way the division encourages faculty/student interaction. This group includes Freshmen and Sophomore students who have either declared an interest in majoring in our departments or who have taken one of our classes, as well as the usual list of department Junior and Senior students. The idea being that the division can send these folks information about upcoming events and information. Division majors are automatically subscribed to the mailing list. We ask that you not unsubscribe since you will miss important memos from the division. Instead, if you have problems about being on this list let us know and we will try to work something out--contact the office at jmeyer@reed.edu.