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

“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.

This concentration is 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.

BA Program

Each semester, the Division’s course offerings represent a wide variety of literary approaches and contexts. 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.

Based on their work in the concentration, students develop the skills needed to

  • engage in the close reading and analysis of literary texts in a variety of genres;
  • write thoughtful interpretive essays on a variety of literary topics;
  • understand and articulate the distinguishing characteristics of the literary genres of fiction, poetry, essay, and drama;
  • interpret literary works in light of relevant biographical, historical, social, political, and cultural contexts;
  • find and make effective use in their interpretive writing of relevant and reliable scholarly resources in a range of print and electronic media.


Introductory/Foundational Courses (100-level)

One foundational “Art of” course 

  • Art of Poetry (LIT 158)
  • Art of the Short Story (LIT 152)
  • Art of the Novel (LIT 153)
  • Art of Literary Analysis (LIT 154)
  • Art of Autobiography (LIT 155)
  • Art of Film (LIT 156)
  • Art of Drama (LIT 157)
  • Art of Narrative (LIT 159)

At least one of these courses must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

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.

Intermediate and Advanced Courses (200-level and above)

Seven Intermediate or Advanced courses are required, including two 300-level courses, in the following areas:

  1. Two courses in pre-20th-century literature, at least one of which must be in pre-19th-century literature
    • Shakespeare (LIT 222)
    • Whitman and Dickinson (LIT 244)
    • Literature of the Bible (LIT 250)
  2. Two courses in different literary genres
    • Tears, Fears, and Laughter: Greek Tragedy and Comedy (LIT 282)
    • Dante and the Secular Sublime (LIT 303)
    • Modern Poetry: Major Authors (LIT 310)
    • 21st-Century Literature (LIT 265)
  3. 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
    • Postwar German Literature (LIT 268)
    • Kafka and the Kafkan (LIT 304)
    • Modern Latin American Novel: The Boom and Beyond (LIT 363)

In addition to regular 300-level courses, independent projects, tutorials, and internships can count toward fulfilling the requirement of two advanced level courses.

Complementary course work

Students may choose to do their complementary course work in almost any discipline, from psychology to gender studies to theater to art history to creative writing. Appropriate courses will be determined in consultation with the student’s Moderation Committee.


This requirement is automatically satisfied by taking the required foundational course (e.g., Art of the Short Story, Art of the Novel, etc.).

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