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. Students are encouraged to begin with 2,000-level courses in Literature (LLSL) and Writing (LLSW) as they consider one of these two tracks. Two required 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. Literary Studies students can also apply to continue their writing and literature coursework abroad beginning in their sophomore year, in Paris, London, Rome, or Verona. In their junior or senior year, all students are required to take an intensive single-text course in which both critics and practitioners of writing explore the nuances of a major work, as well as a Reading for Writers course combining the reading of great works with creative writing.
Students can study Literary Studies as a major (BA, Literary Studies), a self-designed major (BA or BS, Liberal Arts) or a minor in Writing or Literature.
In the Writing concentration, students intensively study the craft and technique of writing fiction, poetry, and nonfiction through carefully designed sequenced courses (Introduction, Intermediate, Advanced) leading to a final semester of intensive "capstone" work in their chosen genre. Writing majors also complete two sequence levels in a secondary writing genre. All of Lang's writing courses are 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 those 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 attend literary readings around the city; work on the New School Free Press, the student newspaper, and Release, the literary magazine; and 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 acquire a broad knowledge of literary criticism and theory as well as a mastery of close reading techniques. Lang’s Literature courses are taught by faculty with national reputations in the fields of English, American, and other Anglophone literature as well as Francophone (French-language) literature, Russian and Eastern European literature, Latin and Italian literature, and Latin American and Caribbean literature.
Students develop finely honed skills as critical readers, writers, and analytical thinkers while studying works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama from a wide range of cultures and literary and historical periods. They are encouraged to explore genres across linguistic borders and historical periods, or to develop in-depth knowledge of particular regions or periods, extending across genres, especially in preparation for an independent senior capstone (research essay). While nearly all of our courses are taught in English, students in the Literature track often complete a minor in a foreign language. Others choose to complete a minor in such related fields as history, philosophy, religion, gender studies, or culture and media, or a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language. Many take advantage of Lang’s ample opportunities for study abroad.
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, collaboration, 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 in literature and writing. Lang’s internship program places students with publishing houses and other venues in New York City.