English courses at Mount Holyoke offer students an opportunity to study texts and writers from the many cultural traditions that have shaped, and been shaped by, the English language. Our offerings range from Anglo-Saxon England through the twenty-first century and encompass multiple national, racial, and cultural identities. The department’s courses cultivate skills in close reading, critical thinking, and persuasive writing. For students interested in writing, a number of courses offer practical instruction in the techniques of fiction, poetry, and other literary genres, as well as journalism. The major helps prepare students for a wide range of careers, including teaching at all levels, law, business, and graduate study in literature and culture.
The English department offers introductory literature courses, courses in creative writing and journalism, and intermediate and advanced literature courses in all genres. We offer two introductory courses designed for first-year students and sophomores: First-Year Seminar 110, a writing-intensive seminar, and English 199, an introduction to English literature and criticism.
We encourage our majors to explore the creative process by taking writing courses. We also urge them to link the study of literature in English with the study of history, art, and other literatures. Courses in classical and modern languages and literatures, art history, philosophy, religion, and history complement and supplement courses in English.
The department reflects in its offerings a balanced variety of historical and theoretical approaches to the study of language, literature, and culture. Many courses locate British and American literary texts within their historical contexts; many courses employ approaches drawn from gender studies, queer theory, and postcolonial theory. We regularly offer courses on African American, Asian American, and other ethnically defined American literatures, as well as on writings from Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Ireland. Some members of the department study visual culture in many different media, including film. The department expects its majors to study texts from a variety of historical periods and challenges students to respond to new questions about the theoretical relationships of literary and cultural forms and historical transformation.
Courses open to first-year students include all sections of First-Year Seminar 110 and ENGL 199, An Introduction to the Study of Literature.
- First-Year Seminar 110 taught by English Department Faculty:
- Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke, Christopher Benfey
- Multicultural Families, Donald Weber
- The Nonhuman, Elizabeth Young
- Other Americans, Iyko Day
- Medical Narratives, Sarah Sutherland
- Mapping World/Mind/Self, Mark Shea
- Black Women Writers, Kimberly Brown