Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Literary Studies

“A word after a word after a word is power,” according to the contemporary Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. Appreciation of the power of language as an artistic medium is the goal of the literary studies concentration.

The requirements of the concentration are designed to foster students’ skills as interpreters of literature and as writers, while also instilling appreciation of form and knowledge about literature and its relationship to social and political contexts. The Simon’s Rock literature program is decidedly comparative, allowing students to study British and American literature as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Czech, and other literatures, in the original language or in translation. In keeping with the College’s commitment to interdisciplinary study, students choosing this concentration are encouraged to engage in complementary study in other areas, including Asian studies and gender studies, or fields other than literature. In the past, students have combined work in literary theory and women’s studies, political theory, and children’s literature, and the history of science with autobiography. The Division’s course offerings each semester represent a wide variety of literary approaches and contexts.

Related Career Paths

Students in the Literary Studies concentration enter into such fields as editing, advertising, communications, broadcasting, research, journalism, playwriting, teaching, public relations, and writing.


The concentration requires a minimum of eight courses (26 credits) in literature. Except for Foundational courses, these courses may be in English or in another language. The following courses are required:

  1. Two “Art of” courses [Art of Poetry (Literature 201), Art of the Short Story (Literature 202), Art of the Novel (Literature 203), Art of Literary Analysis (Literature 204), Art of Autobiography (Literature 205), Art of Film (Literature 206), Art of Drama (Literature 207), Art of Narrative (Literature 208)], at least one of which must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
  2. Six Intermediate or Advanced courses, including two 300-level courses, in the following areas: a. Two courses in pre-20th-century literature, at least one of which must be in pre-19th-century literature; b. Two courses in different literary genres; c. Two courses that relate literature to a locale or a political or cultural context, one of which must be a literature course in translation or a 300-level course in another language.

Because experience in the crafting of language can heighten one’s awareness of other writers’ achievements, students are encouraged to elect at least one creative writing course as part of their work in the concentration. Students interested in graduate study in literature or comparative literature should make a specific plan at Moderation with relevant faculty including a range of courses covering major pre-20th-century authors.

Course Spotlight

Brendan Matthews teaching in class.

Literature 282: Tears, Fears, and Laughter: Greek Tragedy and Comedy

In this course, you will investigate Greek drama, one of the high points of Western literature, primarily by studying—in translation—many of the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as well as comedies of Aristophanes and the later poet Menander. 

Related Special Programs