Why Study English at New College?

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.


According to the Washington Post, New College has more Fulbright Scholars per capita in recent years than Harvard, Stanford or Yale. (2010)

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