Literature, Society, and Politics
The English Department's emphasis in Literature, Society, and Politics reflects our
interest in literature's relationship to the human endeavors of the larger world.
Though the texts we cover and the writing experiences we offer resemble those of a
traditional English major, this emphasis is unique in that we usually group our texts
not as a part of a historical sequence, but rather as they illuminate a particular
theme or genre. While survey courses such as Major British Writers or Major US Writers
provide an overview of literary history, courses such as Myth and Modern Literature,
Comedy and Satire, Tragic Themes, and Worlds of Romance allow the student to consider
common thematic and generic aspects of works from multiple cultures and eras. In this
emphasis, we explore literature not only in terms of its aesthetic dimensions, but
also in terms of the ways it expresses the values, views, and dynamics of a given
cultural and historical context. Thus we consider topics such as the role of the individual
in society, the identity and status of marginal groups, the relationship between humankind
and the Earth, or the role of myth in our lives.
Our courses explore a wide range of literatures written in English (US, British, Canadian, South African, Caribbean, Indian, etc.) as well as literature in translation from all eras. In addition, we provide a full experience of literary study with courses that focus on single authors, literary theory, linguistics, and narrative as it is translated from literature to film.
While the classrooms and gardens of Pearson House offer a comfortable environment for a community of reading, writing scholars we also encourage our students to explore complementary courses in the arts, history, science, and foreign language, and to study abroad at one of Webster's international campuses in order to investigate the importance of literature to the world and in their own lives.
Several of our graduates have gone on to advanced degree programs in literature, law, American studies, and religious studies in graduate schools such as Washington University, Middlebury College, the University of Nebraska, and the University of South Carolina.
In addition to the learning outcomes for all English majors, students who complete the emphasis in literature, society and politics will be able to:
• Identify and evaluate appropriate research sources, incorporate those sources into well-documented formal academic writing, and formulate their own arguments based at least in part on those sources.