Students in English are part of a dynamic field—readily incorporating new genres and approaches from other disciplines. English at New College includes the “great books,” but also works that are popular or experimental—even some you might not immediately recognize as “literature” at all
Looking for intellectual challenge? Study the musicality of contemporary and experimental poetry by Charles Bernstein or Cole Swensen, then dig deep into the intertextual connections between the novels of William Faulkner and Toni Morrison. Learn that drama goes beyond Shakespeare to include early Morality Plays with characters like Virtue and Justice, bloodthirsty revenge tragedies, and contemporary works like those of Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Then there’s postcolonial literature from the widespread anglophone world, life-writing, travel narrative, personal essay, creative non-fiction, and even film and digital writing to study.
At the college level, English asks key questions about where literary meaning comes from—is it just “there,” or do readers give meaning as they read? Can different readers legitimately discover different meanings in the same text? Performed or oral literature forces us to ask about the of role audiences—does poetry or drama have significance at all except in public performance? Or conversely, is the printed word more powerful or global than that word performed? What makes “literature” special, or can and should we read any text with the eye of a literary critic? Is literature “mimetic,” a reflection of the world in which we live, or does literature have a moral obligation to try to question and improve that world?
If you choose the English Area of Concentration, you’ll learn to work with theoretical approaches, determining which one(s) work best for you and defending your choice—whether that’s Reader Response, narratology, poetics, psychoanalysis, New Historicism, cultural studies, feminist, or disability studies approaches. Writers will also have the opportunity to submit their portfolio for the chance to study with our annual Visiting Writer in Residence —a published writer and experienced teacher.
The skills you’ll develop—from fluid and effective written expression to the ability to read closely and attentively any kind of document or cultural object—carry over into a broad range of careers from obvious ones like education and law to museum work, counseling and therapy, and entrepreneurship. Just look at what some of our graduates are doing.
If you are an enrolled student considering the English AOC, see the requirements and expectations, and download the AOC Worksheet to start planning your path through the requirements.
List of Graduate Schools
PhD in English—Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy: Ohio State University
PhD in Anthropology: Rice University
MLS or MLIS (Master of Library Information Sciences): University of Illinois, University of South Florida, Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science,
MFA in Creative Writing: Emerson College, University of Iowa
MLitt/MFA in Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin College in partnership with the American Shakespeare Company
JD: Stetson University, University of Alabama, University of Miami
MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching): Florida Atlantic University
MFT (Masters of Family Therapy): New College of California
Donna Beth Ellard, PhD from UC-Santa Barbara; ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) New Faculty Fellow at Rice University, 2011-2013.
Carly Earnshaw, MFT from New College of California; Therapist and Care Manager at Edgewood Center for Children and Families and Therapist at Sunset Psychotherapy.
Karen Fraivillig, who completed a Special Program AOC in British Literature and History, is Assistant State Attorney and regularly prosecutes high level criminal cases on the Sarasota Circuit.
Andrew Hossack, a former New York City Teaching Fellow, teaches fourth grade for gifted and talented students at William T. Harris School in New York.
Fiona Lewis recently published her first young adult novel, Dreaming in Color. She is an award-winning novelist; author of “Bliss,” “Hungry For It,” “Every Dark Desire,” and “Dangerous Pleasures,” among other adult novels. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including “From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth.”
Kristen Mahoney is Assistant Professor of English at Western Washington University, where she specializes in Victorian literature and aestheticism. She is currently the University of Delaware Library Fellow in Pre-Raphaelite Studies. Kristen completed her PhD at the University of Notre Dame.
David Mayo, MS in Library and Information Sciences, Simmons College GSLIS Program; David is currently a web developer for GenArts in Cambridge, MA.
Judy Ng, graduated in 2000, and works as a processing technician at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, overseeing the addition of new materials from letters to objects.
Jason Palmeri is Assistant Professor of English and affiliate faculty with Interactive Media Studies at Miami University of Ohio; he specializes in composition and rhetoric with a particular focus on computer technology and digital writing.
Kevin Unrath, MLS from University of Illinois; Principal Librarian, Middletown, NY Public Library (formerly librarian at Hollins University).
Sarah Viren, grad. 2001, MFA University of Iowa in Creative Nonfiction; Sarah has been a Fulbright Fellow, the Nonfiction Editor at The Iowa Review, and Youth Affairs Reporter for the Houston Chronicle.
Melissa Renee Waggenspack; MA Columbia University; Currently Communications Manager at Johnson & Johnson. Formerly Publicist with Columbia University Press and with Oxford University Press.
Academic Learning Compacts