Few disciplines better symbolize the rich tradition of the liberal arts than the study of literature, and our Literature AOC at New College is no exception. Offering both the breadth and depth you would expect from one of the nation's top-ranked liberal arts colleges as well as the level of individualized attention and mentorship that are hallmarks of New College, our program prepares students with the analytic, critical thinking and communications skills required in almost any career.
If you are interested in literature and want to explore the full range of possibilities offered in the field, our Literature Area of Concentration (AOC) could be the ideal fit for you. From Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, Homer to Virgil, Goethe to Proust, Austen to Hesse, Wolf to Vargas Llosa and Allende to Yu Hua, our program gives you the opportunity to work across linguistic and national boundaries in your approach to literary study.
As a Literature student, you can pursue courses and tutorials that focus on a wide variety of topics. For example, some of our Literature students want to dig deeply into Latin American novels or French fin-de-siècle fiction. Still others want to explore Chinese poetry, American experimental poetics, German bourgeois dramas or philosophical Russian novels. Whatever your interest, you will work side by side with faculty members who teach across the spectrum of our language and literature programs. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore a broad range of approaches, applying your analytic skills to everything from performance, film, visual media, printed literature and more.
Students in our Literature AOC typically work in at least three national traditions and write a senior thesis that examines larger themes or issues from at least two cultural traditions comparatively or through a shared critical lens. Because there is no substitute for reading work in the original language, students are expected to meet at least a minimum language requirement even if their thesis focuses on literature in translation.
Working with faculty from all of our language and literature programs (Classics, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish), you will sharpen your analytic skills through close readings and in-depth discussions of texts and gain a deeper understanding and empathy for people from different backgrounds and literary traditions. By studying the historical and cultural contexts of texts and applying literary theory to them, you will also come to better understand the nature, purpose and history of literature itself, as well as that of literary criticism. Ultimately, all of these will help you gain a fuller, more in-depth appreciation for the artistic uses of language and a more sophisticated ability to express your own ideas, both in written and oral form.
Our Literature AOC is also a good gateway for students interested in studying, working and traveling abroad. Because of the program’s cross-cultural emphasis, many students choose to study abroad while at New College while others have gone on to earn Fulbright Scholarships, as well as teaching assistantships through the French Government, JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program and others, following graduation.
It is important to note that this concentration is designed for students wishing to study literature but not to specialize in the literature of a single national or linguistic tradition. As such, the requirements and procedures for AOCs in Chinese, English, French,German, Russian, Spanish and Classics are distinct from those of our Literature AOC.
Graduates from the program have become teachers at K-12 institutions and faculty members at colleges and universities both in the U.S. and abroad. They have also become lawyers, librarians, journalists, publishers, web developers and entrepreneurs. In short, they have pursued careers in the nearly countless number of fields where their language skills, cultural flexibility, and critical thinking abilities made them valued.
Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Literature:
Please note that the list below is just a small sample of courses offered in Literature. For a complete list of courses by semester, please click here.
The Ancient Novel
Modern Chinese Literature: A Survey
Classical Chinese Literature: A Survey
Heroism and Chinese Narratives
Becoming Jane Austen: Romantic-Era British Women’s Writing
Critical Theory in the U. S.
Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Shakespeare: Language and Identity
Virginia Woolf: Art and the Artist
18th-century French Literature
Literary Movements of 19th-century France
Francophone Literatures of the Americas: Giving Voice to Identity
Black Orpheus at the Turn of the 21st Century: Novels and Short-Stories from Francophone Africa
The French Renaissance: Contextualizing Sixteenth Century Literature
World War II France in Film and Fiction
Double Stories: Historic/ Heuristic Fictions
Proust’s In Search of Lost Time
Le rire à travers les siècles (in French)
L’Amour Interdit (in French)
Women and Seduction in 18th- and Early 19th-Century German Bourgeois Drama
Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Snow White in Text and Film
Age of Goethe
The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht
Nabokov’s Early Novels: Resident and Stranger
Dostoevsky: The Major Novels
Women in Russian Literature: 1780s-1990s
The Need for Fictions: The Narratives of Gabriel García Márquez and Juan Rulfo
Representations of Power in Modern Latin American Novels
An Introduction to Colonial Texts: Spanish America
Storytellers/Los que cuentan historias (in Spanish)
Latin American Essays (in Spanish)
As a student in Literature at New College, you have access to faculty members who cover the gambit from our language and literature programs, including Classics, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. All hold Ph.D.s from the country’s leading research institutions, and all are accomplished teachers, advisors and published authors. They are also expert mentors who are willing to help students with information about graduate school options and careers, and many continue to advise and write recommendations for students long after graduation.
“Our narrative evaluation system means that we know our students well and can write detailed and personalized evaluations several years post graduation,” said one faculty member in the AOC. “We even serve as mentors to students whose graduate degrees are in other disciplines, and former students often become our colleagues.”
L.A. Fields is the author of Maladaptation, a novel that was published during her final year at New College. She has also published My Dear Watson, a queer Sherlock Holmes’ pastiche. Fields’s work has appeared in the anthologies Cool Thing: The Best New Gay Fiction From Young American Writers, Wilde Stories, Best Gay Romance 2010, and Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of The Closet, as well as in the Internet collective “Still Blue: More Writing By (For or About) Working-Class Queers” and the online journal “Ignavia.”
New College is proud of our many Literature graduates. Here’s a sampling of some of them:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Literature
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Literature:
“In Search of Lost Caregivers: Gender, Sexuality and the Body in Proust’s Recherche” by Emily Adams
“’You Always See Something, But You Never See All’: Narative Devices and the Reader’s Role in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Andrei Bely’s Kotik Letaev” by Jacqueline Aldrich
“The Adaptation and Appropriation of Shakespeare in Neil Gaiman’s Graphic NovelThe Sandman” by Bianca Beebe
“Voicing Trauma: Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood in Esistance of a Masculinist Modernism” by Alex Fixler
“Bilingual Bliss, Bilingual Blues: A Look at Cuban-American Tongue Ties” by Gabriela Portilla
“A Translation of Juan Carlos Onetti’s La Muerte Y La Niña” by Antonella Pagani
“Facebook Sluts: Transcoding between Voyeuristic Media and Figure Painting” by Dinah Juergens
“To Flatten Time & Give Blood to Ghosts: Ezra Pound’s Homage to SextusPropertius” by David Belew
“Beyond Trembling Manhood and Heaving Bosoms: Gender and Sexuality in the Historical Romance Novel” by Lucy Maddox
“Artistic Partnerships: Intimacy and Inequality” by Natale Van Dine
“Translating the Past, Writing the Self: The Language of the Exile Experience through Text and Film” by Natalie Catasus
“Public Lies and Private Truths: Images of Dictatorial Power in La Fiesta del Chivoand El Otoño del Chivo” by Sarah Thompson
“Hans Baldung Grien’s Witches’ Sabbath and Fall of Man: Intersection of the Secular and the Sacred” by Eleanor A. Cecconi
“Traumatic Re-Visionings of Classic Fairy Tales: Robin McKinley’s Deerskin and Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose” by Anastasia Greene
“Canada, the Transnational, and the Self: Cultural Identities and Triangular Relationships in Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Coming Through Slaughter” by Emily-Rose Guillebeau
“Why a Duck? Self, Locality, Community, and Relevance in the Work of Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe” by John Witte
“Shifting Borders, Shifting Selves: The Construction of the Russian Emigre’s Identity in the Autobiographical Fictions of Henri Troyat and Andrei Makine” by Marilee Pray
“Searching for the Author’s Hand: Narrators, Readers, and the Fictive World In Vladimir Nabokov’s Short Fiction” by Laura Hampton
“Not a Man, But a Miracle: Escape(s) from Heteronormativity in Dorothy L. Sayers’sGaudy” by Kateland Harte
“Telling Secrets: Alternative Paths to Truth in Alice Munro’s Open Secrets” by Caitlin Kindervatter-Clark
“Eulogy for Apollo: Synesthesia and Musicality in Andrei Bely’s Petersburg and James Joyce’s Ulysses” by David Rodriguez
““the boys i mean are not refined”: The Search for Identity in Contemporary American Novels” by Jamie Valentine
“God’s Lonely Men: Violence in Service of Masculine Identity Construction in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull” by Cameron Worden
“Representations of Women in the Work of Gustave Flaubert and Leo Tolstoy” by Jillian Horowitz
“Language as Prosthesis: The Re-embodiment of Four Disabled Authors” by Dorothy Dubrule
“More than Heavenly Power Permits: The Faust Myth and Man’s Striving in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Goethe’s Faust and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita” by Carlos Guzman-Verdugo
“Between Two Worlds: Internalized Anti-Semitism in Isaac Babel’s Short Fiction” by Melissa Yael Jacobowitz
“Representations of Racial Identity in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative” by Patrick Geraghty
“Illustration as Interpretation: Illustrations of John Milton’s Paradise Lost” by Brittany Hill
“Fearing the Future: The Uncanny Child and Modern Children’s Literature” by Sean Marlow
“The Quest to Find Utopia: From Thomas More to Aldous Huxley” by Caitlin Riopel
“Addressing Oppression: Black Women’s Roles and Relationships in Toni Morrison’sSula, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Claudia Schwartz
“Fortune, Providence, and Pity in the Works of Boccaccio, Chaucer, Lydgate, and Baldwin” by Marjorie Wagner
“The Fiction of Choice: Abortion Plots, Gender and Patriarchy in Four Twentieth-Century Texts” by Merode “Mem” Ward-Lichterman
“Deconstructing Gothic Identity” by Amy Paterson
“On the Nature of the Puppet: An Exploration of Four Puppet-Plays” by Erin Boggs
“Travelers in Transformation: Three British Writers and Their Interpretations of France in the Late Eighteenth Century” by Dana Lynn Trejo
“Cunning Odysseus” by Robert Amstutz
“Invisible Author/Visible Predator: Literary Representations of Filipinos in the United States” by Jessica Cardott
“Marginalized Voices: The Oral Storyteller in Two Francophone Novels” by Nikolaus Drellow
“Reading Women in the Works of Austen and Flaubert: In Which Three Heroines Learn How to Read, or Die Trying” by Mary Lancaster
“Los Rios Profundos by Jose Maria Arguedas: An Interpretive Introduction to the Author and the Work” by Jamie Louque
“Aesthetics and Engagement: New Novel / New Wave Treatments of Independence-Era North Africa” by Katelyn MacKenzie
“The Greatest Possible Effect: Defamiliarization in Brecht, Handke and Snow” by Matthew Vincent Preira
“Hijo de Hombre by Augusto Roa Bastos: The Way of Man” by Andres Manuel Sanchez
“Thinking about ‘Things’: Human and Object Interaction in Eighteenth Century British Literature and Contemporary Art” by Helen Meacock
“El Canto: La Voz del Pueblo Como el Arma de la Reivindicacion en el Misticismo Telurico de Canto General” by Sylvia Beato
“Rethinking Brecht: The Reinvention of Contemporary Politics and Political Theater” by Lauren Nash
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to the study of Literature and is available to students throughout the year. The library is also home to the College’s Academic Resource Center (ARC), which hosts a number of services of interest to students including the Writing Resource Center (WRC) and the Language Resource Center (LRC).
Each spring, New College hosts a Visiting Writer-in-Residence, a published writer who teaches classes and holds workshops for students interested in creative writing. The writer-in-residence also gives public readings in the community. Recent writers-in-residence include:
The Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection is a special collection in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library with materials related to the Holocaust, genocide and humanitarian studies. The Fagin room can be reserved for occasional small meetings connected with the collection.
Our student newspaper, The Catalyst, is taught as a tutorial for academic credit under the sponsorship of Professor Maria Vesperi, herself a former journalist. What a great way to know your campus and community, and keep up with the changing world of journalism.
Anemoi (“The Winds”) is New College’s journal of pre-modern studies. Students participate as editors, reviewers and contributors with content covering the classical, medieval and early modern periods.
New College hosts the Biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, which draws top scholars in history, literature, art history, philosophy and other fields. Students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the scholars and attend the conference presentations.
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Students in our Literature program regularly receive internships to assist as writers and editors for local magazines and newspapers and to mentor and teach students in local schools. Here is a look at some of the local organizations at which our students have recently interned: