The major in Literary Studies, with concentrations in Literature and Writing, is designed to consider the written word and other textual modes from both critical and creative perspectives. Two Literary Introductions courses (The Invention of Literature, offered every fall, and Literary Reinvention, offered every spring) that introduce texts from the classic to the contemporary, build a solid grounding in basic literary studies and provide students with a common language and literary experience as they proceed to more advanced study. All students are also required to take an Approaches to Literary Studies course, which explores ways and methods of reading, and an intensive single-text course, which allows both critics and practitioners to explore the nuances of one major work. As they complete these four core courses, students may begin work in either the Literature or Writing track. Literature and Writing students may also apply to the International Literary Studies program at the American University of Paris to study abroad during their junior year.
In addition to the major, students have the option, if majoring in a different program, to elect an academic minor in Writing or Literature in Literary Studies. Students interested in completing the minor for either track should review the minor curriculum.
Building on the core courses, the Writing concentration offers students the chance for intensive study of craft and technique of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and journalism, taught by active practitioners in their genre with national reputations. In conjunction with Writing, the Arts Department offers LTHR Introduction to Playwriting and LTHR Intermediate Playwriting, which writing concentrators can choose as a secondary genre.
Writing is informed by several basic commitments:
- That writing is a liberal art, requiring a broad exposure of the student writer to the full array of liberal arts and social sciences
- That writers are, above all, readers and that a profound apprenticeship in the aesthetic, critical, and historical concepts of each genre is essential
- That the writer has a vital relationship to society, culture, and nature and that this relationship is explored and expressed by their art (i.e., the “writer in the world”)
Finally, because writing is the primary mode of active reasoning and communication through which students in every major will be effective—and by which they will be evaluated—writing courses emphasize essential communicative and research skills, a profound understanding of craft, and the development of personal voice in an encouraging atmosphere. Students are encouraged to participate in The New School Free Press, the student newspaper, and Release, the literary magazine, and to take advantage of publishing and writing internships and opportunities, in which they work with professional writers and editors currently active in the city.
In the Literature concentration, students develop the skills they need to be critical readers, writers, and analytical thinkers. Students learn close reading techniques and literary criticism and theory; they read works in poetry, fiction, and drama and are introduced to a wide range of cultures and literary and historical periods. While nearly all courses are offered in English, materials include translated literature from Russia, eastern Europe, France, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Anglophone courses include literature from Britain, the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Many of the faculty teaching literature courses are also creative writers and understand approaches to the study of literature from the perspectives of practitioner, scholar, and critic. Although many students in literature classes are themselves creative writers, formal writing assignments in literature courses almost always take the form of the critical essay or research paper.
Faculty members in Literary Studies regard critical and theoretical writing as a process as creative as that of writing poetry, fiction, and drama. Both writing and literature courses use innovative methods to discover breadth and depth in a text and in the field as a whole. This variety and versatility helps students develop portable skills such as research, argumentation, analysis, and effective writing. Graduates in Literary Studies often go on to pursue careers in publishing (including magazine and book editing), primary- and secondary-level teaching, law, business, and public service as well as graduate programs in literature and writing. Lang’s internship program places students with publishing houses and other venues in New York City.
International Literary Studies (Literature or Creative Writing) in Paris
The quintessentially international literary cities of Paris and New York have existed in a state of cultural symbiosis since Alexis de Tocqueville and Gertrude Stein. A partnership between the Literary Studies departments of Eugene Lang College and the American University of Paris draws on the literary geographies of both cities and literary cultures in powerful ways. AUP’s innovative curriculum in Cultural Translation will allow interested Lang students the chance to delve deeply into the French language, among others, and to make cultural translation a focus of their literary education. Reading and writing are ways in which we extend our perception of the world and our place in it. By going beyond the typical study-abroad experience, which tends to insulate the student from the local culture, the Lang-AUP International Literary Studies program extends this perception even further.
Lang students pursuing the Creative Writing or Literature tracks will benefit from the broadening of intellectual and emotional horizons that immersion in a foreign, cosmopolitan setting provides, as they engage with the program’s signature course: the Writer in Paris (Literary Migrations, Paris Through Books). They will experience the specificity of the literary geographies in both locales as they explore each city’s mythologies and use literature as a way to engage with the locale. But this exploration is not limited by the traditional parameters of French and American literature: The theme of the Writer in Exile will expand their view of each city’s literary life within the traditions of writers who found refuge, whether from abroad or from their country’s “heartlands,” in the cosmopolitan centers of the world. At AUP, Lang students will sit in classrooms with peers from eastern and western Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, and Latin America. It is common for world literature courses at AUP to include optional excursions to Tunis, Istanbul, Prague, London/Stratford, Berlin, and Austerlitz. Students will be able to collaborate electronically across the Atlantic on a literary magazine, and the two departments are working together to develop common emphases on contemporary publishing and new media. Most courses are taught in English, but Lang’s International Literary Studies curriculum requires and certifies an Advanced level of competency in French language upon completion of the major—something that employers and graduate schools value.