What is literature? What constitutes a literary education in the twenty-first century?
How many ways are there to read and write about the same text, and how do we decide
among various interpretations? How does our understanding of a work change when we
consider its context, whether biographical, historical, cultural, or political? Why
might we ask questions in literature classes about race, class, gender, and sexuality?
Why should a student of literature study language? Why should a student interested
in creative writing read literature? How does writing enable us to discover and shape
our ideas? How does the English major prepare students for living in, and thoughtfully
engaging with, the world?
The Skidmore English department invites students to consider such questions and to frame their own. Throughout the curriculum, English majors learn to read closely, think critically, challenge assumptions, practice methods of interpretation and research, analyze the formal qualities of texts, approach texts from various perspectives, place texts in various contexts, and write with clarity, coherence, and precision. As the English major progresses from introductory to capstone courses, students are offered increasingly sophisticated and elaborate writing and analytic tasks and called upon to perform steadily more original, inventive, independent work.
Through class meetings, lectures, panels, and symposia, English department faculty and students, as well as distinguished visitors, create and nourish a vital intellectual environment. In addition, publications such as Folio (edited and produced by students) and the nationally recognized Salmagundi extend our community's ongoing discussions and debates.