The department offers courses in literary history and traditions. These courses assist students to see how the works of generations of writers explore unifying themes, ideas, ideals, achievements, and aspirations. The department offers courses on " writers at work" that invite close study of the ideas and literary habits of a writer or a community of writers. These courses assist in understanding the texture of writing produced by individuals of great or compelling talent.
The department offers courses in reading cultural contexts that promote awareness of literary texts as cultural constructs. These courses highlight the importance of society and culture as crucial determinants in the texts we read and analyze. The department offers courses in theories and practices that explore the methods of literary inquiry. These courses expose and test the theoretical grounding of our various approaches to literary material. A capstone course integrating theory and practice is required of all majors in their senior year.
The department offers courses in creative writing that provide instruction in and contexts for practicing and producing the students' own literary texts: stories, poems, plays, critical essays. Among the special-topics courses offered in recent years are Love in Literature, Political Satire, Hypertext Literature, Short Fiction, Gothic Thrills, Unruly Women in Theatre, and The Medieval in the Modern.