Literature Curriculum

Our curriculum requires students to complete courses and tutorials that demonstrate familiarity with literature from diverse historic periods (pre-1700; 1700-1899; 1900-present), of different genres (prose fiction, poetry, drama/theater), and of multiple national or linguistic traditions.

The Literature Curriculum

Our curriculum requires students to complete courses and tutorials that demonstrate familiarity with literature from diverse historic periods (pre-1700; 1700-1899; 1900-present), of different genres (prose fiction, poetry, drama/theater), and of multiple national or linguistic traditions. These may be met by a combination of courses, tutorials, and ISPs. Most students meet all program requirements in 10-12 courses or projects (6-8 is typical for a joint-disciplinary AOC). All students at NCF complete at least seven contracts, three ISPs, and a senior thesis project. Semester contracts generally consist of three to five academic activities—courses, tutorials, internships—designed to help students reach their specific academic goals.

Students who wish to complete an AOC in Literature, or a joint-disciplinary AOC that includes Literature, submit an application, usually in the fifth contract. Links to the application and to the detailed explanation of the program requirements in the New College Catalog are here:

Area of Concentration Requirements

This concentration allows students to study literature from diverse national and linguistic traditions, gaining a familiarity with genre and periodization across literary fields and an understanding of literary works in a comparative context. Our curriculum includes surveys of literary history and courses that focus on specific historical periods, genres, or thematic questions. The AOC serves students wishing to study literature broadly, including works written in English as well as in other languages; most courses are taught in English (English translation) and some are offered for students who can read foreign languages in the original.

The requirements and procedures for areas of concentration in specific literary traditions (Chinese, English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Classics) are distinct from those given below. Students should see the catalog entries regarding these other areas of concentration and consult their sponsors and literature faculty members about which concentration is best for them.The Area of Concentration in Literature involves the following requirements:

  • Study of literary history;
  • Familiarity with critical approaches/theories for the study of literature;
  • Familiarity with works in major genres of literature (prose/fiction, poetry, drama);
  • Ability to analyze literature critically;
  • Ability to read and understand texts of moderate difficulty in a foreign language that is related to the student’s interest in literature;
  • Completion of a senior thesis that demonstrates engagement with literary criticism and/or theory, familiarity with the techniques and norms of library research in literature, and strong writing skills.

These requirements should be met through a balanced program of courses and tutorials (generally 10-12 courses, from the introductory level through advanced seminars, ISPs and tutorials), including work in at least three linguistic traditions either in the original or in translation. Students planning to undertake the concentration should work in close consultation with a sponsor from the literature faculty. Students are admitted to the AOC by application in the 5th semester (see below).The language requirement (point 5 above) may be met by:

  • Successfully completing either the third semester (or above) of one of the foreign language sequences at New College;
  • By successfully completing a literature course taught in a language other than English; or
  • By means of an examination arranged by the instructor of the language specified by the student.

Application for Literature Area of Concentration:

Early in the first module of the fifth semester, the student submits to the Literature faculty an application for an Area of Concentration in Literature (available from the Humanities Division). Check with any Literature faculty member regarding the deadline for submission of the application, which is earlier than the deadline for submission of the College-wide Provisional Area of Concentration form. If a student chooses a split or interdisciplinary Area of Concentration of which “Literature” is one part, she or he must also submit an application to the Literature faculty.The faculty meets and considers the applications, reviewing each student’s progress in meeting the requirements and plans for future study. If the student is admitted to the AOC, the faculty will make stipulations as to further work the student needs to complete the program. In cases of split or interdisciplinary concentrations, appropriate adaptations of the Literature requirements will be approved by faculty consensus.

After admission to the AOC, the student completes the College-wide Provisional Area of Concentration form, in consultation with their sponsor, and submits it to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline. The faculty signatures required on this form may be provided by any Literature faculty members.



Recent offerings:

Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Literature. Please note that the list below is just a small sample of courses offered in Literature, and that tutorials add additional breadth to the curriculum. Most courses are taught in English, many have options for students interested in working in the original, and some courses are taught exclusively in the original. For a complete list of courses by semester, please click here. 

Recent courses that meet the requirement for work in different historic periods:


  • Literature of the Roman Empire (Classics)
  • Chaucer and Medieval Narrative (English)
  • Greek Drama (Classics)
  • Shakespeare: Language and Identity (English)
  • An Introduction to Colonial Texts: Spanish America (Spanish)


  • Revolution and Romanticism: Literature in English (1780-1820) (English)
  • Literary Movements in 19th-Century France (French)
  • Dostoevsky: The Major Novels (Russian)
  • The Cult of Love: Culture and Literature in the Late Ming and Qing China (Chinese)
  • Nineteenth-Century British and American Women Writers (English)
  • Visiones de las Américas (taught in Spanish)


  • Toni Morrison and Intertextuality (English)
  • British Modernist Fiction: Haunted by the Victorians (English)
  • Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature (Chinese)
  • World War II France in Film and Fiction (taught in French and English)
  • The Cuban Revolution in Film and Literature (Spanish)

Recent courses that focus on specific genres:

Prose fiction:

  • The Russian Short Story (Russian)
  • American Fiction (English)
  • Novela corta hispanoamericana (taught in Spanish)
  • The Twentieth Century French Novel (taught in French and English)
  • Representations of the Indian and the Indian World in Modern Latin American Novels (Spanish)
  • African Stories: New Fiction from Francophone Africa (taught in French and English)


  • Ancient Epic (Classics)
  • Desire and Devotion: Renaissance Lyric Poetry from Skelton to Marvell (English)
  • Black Mountain and New York School Poetry (English)
  • El español como materia del verso (taught in Spanish)


  • Greek Drama (Classics)
  • On Stage in Paris and Montréal: French/Francophone Theater since 1896 (taught in French and English)
  • Seduction and Gender in Bourgeois Drama (German)
  • Realism, Surrealism, Expressionism: Twentieth Century Drama in Theory and Practice (English)
  • Restauration and 18th-century British Drama: Staging Political Change (English)

Recent courses with a thematic or theoretical focus:

  • Fist Fight and Sword Play: Chinese Martial Arts Films (Chinese)
  • Monsters and Marvels in Greek Literature, Art and Culture (Classics)
  • L’Amour Interdit (taught in French)
  • Writing the Self: Autobiography, Testimony and Biography (Spanish)
  • Black, White and German: Afro-Germans and German Identity (German)
  • Migration and Memory: New Pathways in World Literature (English)
  • The Russian City as a Cultural Focus: Picturing, Narrating and Living the Urban Dream (Russian)
  • Reading Wo Men Sa 我们仨, Us Three (taught in Chinese)
  • El otro canon: género y literature hispanoamericana (taught in Spanish)
  • Berlin Metropolis: Stadt als Text (taught in German)