Division of Languages and Literature



The Literature Program at Bard is free from the barriers that are often set up between different national literatures or between the study of language and the study of the range of intellectual, historical, and imaginative dimensions to which literature’s changing forms persistently refer. Literary studies are vitally engaged with interdisciplinary programs such as Experimental Humanities and Asian, Classical, Medieval, and Victorian Studies. An active connection with Bard’s arts programs is maintained through courses concerned with painting, film, aesthetics, and practices across a range of fields.


A student planning to major in the Literature Program should begin by taking Literature 103, Introduction to Literary Studies, and at least one of the sequence courses in English, U.S., or comparative literature. These courses focus on close readings of literary texts and frequent preparation of critical papers.

To moderate, a student must take at least three additional courses in the Division of Languages and Literature. One of these courses may be a Written Arts course and one may be a language instruction course. No more than one writing workshop can count toward the Moderation requirements.

For Moderation, the student submits a 10- to 12-page critical essay based on work for one of the sequence courses; the two short Moderation papers required of all students; and fiction or poetry if the student is a double major in the Written Arts Program. The first short paper reflects on the process that has led the student to this point in his or her studies; the second reflects on the student’s aspirations for work in the Upper College. The papers are evaluated by a board composed of the student’s adviser and two other members of the Literature Program faculty.

After Moderation, the student chooses seminars at the 300 level and tutorials in special topics. Students are encouraged to study a language other than English, and study abroad programs are easily combined with a major in literature.

To graduate, students must take a second sequence course from the same sequence as the first, although it need not be consecutive (for example, a student may take English Literature III and then English Literature I). The second sequence course must be taken prior to the start of the senior year. Students must also take at least one course that focuses on literature written before 1800 and at least one course that focuses on literature written after 1800. This requirement is in addition to the two sequence courses described above. Students are also expected to enroll in 300-level courses and are strongly encouraged to take one world literature course and one junior seminar. All students complete a Senior Project.

Recent Senior Projects in Literature

  • “Between Androgyny: Woolf’s Play with Performativity, Gender, and Sex”
  • “Dissonant Ambitions: Stendhal, Balzac, and the Fluid Nature of Selfhood”
  • “False Histories and Fractured Authors: Philip Roth’s American Pastoral and John Edgar Wideman’s Philadelphia Fire
  • “Twitterature: New Dimensions of Literature in the Age of Social Media”


Most writing-intensive courses and workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are listed under the Written Arts Program.