In the major in Literary Studies, with concentrations in Literature and Writing, the written word and other textual modes are considered from both critical and creative perspectives. Two Literary Introductions courses (The Invention of Literature, offered every fall, and Literary Reinvention, offered every spring), focusing on texts from the classic to the contemporary, enable students to build a solid foundation in literary studies and provide them with a common language and literary experience as they proceed to more advanced study. All students are also required to take Approaches to Literary Studies, a course exploring ways and methods of reading, and an intensive single-text course in which both critics and practitioners of writing explore the nuances of a major work. As they complete these four core courses, students can begin work in either the Literature or the Writing track. Literature and Writing students can also apply to the International Literary Studies program at the American University of Paris to study abroad during their junior year.
Students can study Literary Studies as a major (BA) or a guided area of study (Liberal Arts majors). Students majoring in other programs can elect an academic minor in Writing or Literature in Literary Studies.
Building on the core courses, the Writing concentration offers students the chance to intensive study the craft and technique of writing 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 concentrating in Writing can choose as a secondary genre.
The Writing program is based on several assumptions:
- That writing is a liberal art, requiring broad exposure of the student to the full array of liberal arts and social sciences
- That writers are, above all, readers and that close study of the aesthetic, critical, and historical concepts of each genre is essential
- That writers have a vital relationship to society, culture, and nature and that this relationship is explored and expressed through 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 a supportive atmosphere. Students are encouraged to work on 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 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, readings include translated literature from Russia, eastern Europe, France, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Courses on anglophone writers explore literature from Britain, the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Many of the faculty members 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 critical essays or research papers.
Faculty members in Literary Studies regard critical and theoretical writing as a process that is as creative as 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 of Literary Studies often pursue careers in publishing (including magazine and book editing), primary- and secondary-level teaching, law, business, and public service as well as graduate study of 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 long existed in a state of cultural symbiosis, as reflected in the work of 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 and cultures of both cities in powerful ways. AUP's innovative curriculum in Cultural Translation offers interested Lang students the chance to delve deep into French and other languages and to make cultural translation a focus of their literary education. Reading and writing are ways in which we broaden our awareness 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 broadens this awareness even further.
Lang students pursuing the Creative Writing or Literature tracks will benefit from the broadening of intellectual and emotional horizons provided by immersion in a foreign, cosmopolitan setting as they engage with the program’s signature course: The Writer in Paris (Literary Migrations, Paris Through Books). They will experience the literary geographies of both locales as they explore the mythology of each city and use literature as a way to engage with it. But this exploration is not limited by the traditional parameters of French and American literature: The theme of the Writer in Exile will broaden 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. World literature courses at AUP often include optional excursions to Tunis, Istanbul, Prague, London and Stratford, Berlin, and Austerlitz. Students will be able to collaborate electronically across the Atlantic on a literary magazine, and the two departments work 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—a skill both employers and graduate schools value.