Literature at Sarah Lawrence College is a disciplined and cross-disciplinary study founded on the belief that reflective attention to a variety of fictions can lead to deeper insight into the truths of self and society. Among the goals of the discipline: to strengthen critical skills; widen cultural literacy; refine writing, discussion, speaking, and research skills; and open students to engagement with the concerns of other disciplines—including history, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and anthropology—as they emerge within literature’s rich discourse.
Curricular offerings include core American and European texts but range widely through world literature—African, Asian, and Latin American. Courses may be broadly organized around a historical period (for example, the Middle Ages or the 17th century) or around a genre (comedy, autobiography, the novel); or they may combine historical and generic concerns (ancient Greek theatre, 20th-century American poetry). Some courses are devoted to the study of a single author, such as Chaucer or Virginia Woolf, or to a particular thematic or critical goal: examining ideas of culture since the Enlightenment, exploring postcolonial revisions to classics of the Western canon, or developing an inclusive approach to American literature that includes African American and Native American texts along with more traditional works. Throughout the literature curriculum, meeting with faculty members in regularly scheduled conferences allows students to individualize their course work, to combine it with other disciplines, where appropriate, and to write with the deep understanding that can only result from intense, guided study.