Welcome from the Director of Undergraduate Studies

Collage of English Students and Faculty

Welcome to the Department of English. We teach a special kind of knowledge here. If the philosopher traffics in ideas, the historian in facts, the mathematician in numbers, it is the critic’s business to understand the world through words. Our concentrators read widely in the literatures written in English, over its long history and across its global reach. We test the boundaries of reading itself, across media and culture. Through language, the most human of tools, we take up the great questions: power, beauty, oppression, emancipation, identity, love.

Diversity is among our strengths. Here you can find courses on Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Jacques Derrida, and Emily Dickinson; on Black satire and best sellers and American cinema. Our faculty are some of the best teachers in the university, great lecturers and seminar leaders and dedicated supervisors of independent work. Special tracks within the major, in Creative Writing and Theater, along with a variety of collaborating certificate programs, allow for a wide range of interdisciplinary study. Concentrators learn to write boldly, argue forcefully, and think freely, and they graduate prepared for careers as various as medicine, law, and journalism. They also carry with them a personal canon of vital writing in English, books they will read and reread over a lifetime.

We are a community committed to anti-racism and to meeting the present challenges of the pandemic and the future world that will be reborn from it. This site will offer you an overview of our program, but the best introduction is to take a class with us, or drop by office hours, or pick up one of the books on our syllabi. We hope to see you in the halls of McCosh, virtually and, when it is safe, and may it be soon, in person.


Jeff Dolven
Director of Undergraduate Studies