English Literature

In the age of digital communication, literature has never been more important. In broad context, the study of literature develops an understanding of the world we live in. Words are a window to the world, and literature has recorded every historical event throughout the course of time. Literature takes the reader on a journey to imaginary places as if they were living it. If you wish to broaden your horizons, then the study of literature is a must.

Our Program

Our students possess a love of reading and history. They want to challenge their own beliefs and learn new cultures in the interest of developing greater empathy. They strive to become stronger writers to express their voice both creatively and concisely.

Our program explores mythology, contemporary British and American literature, world literature and more. We study prominent authors such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Herman Melville and Thornton Wilder and devote courses to genres such as the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century, fairy tales and young adult literature.

A senior thesis is required and study abroad and internship experiences are encouraged. Students may also choose to double major in English literature and secondary education, which prepares them to apply for Rhode Island teacher certification for grades 7-12.

Program Spotlight: Recreating “The Inklings”

A group of writers associated with the University of Oxford in the 1930s and 1940s, the Inklings included the likes of Owen Barfield, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. They held regular literary discussions and produced some of the most beloved British literature, such as “Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Our course on the Inklings “recreates” the experience of being part of a literary group. Students read the works, perform parts of plays and try to explain the intent of the work.

It wasn’t just about reading books or listening to lectures. As far as English classes go, it was much more active. There were videos that we watched, plays we got to act in, and discussions about modern issues and varying political thoughts. Everyone learns differently, but most students seem to work best in that type of environment.

Effie Gianitsos, English literature major

Our Faculty

Our full-time faculty members specialize in different areas of literary studies and are supported by occasional adjunct professors. Our students enjoy close and personal relationships with our highly qualified and dedicated faculty.​


Meet Our Faculty

Life After Salve

As a humanities program, English literature degrees are valued by employers because graduates are seen as having a well-rounded background. An English literature degree fosters the creative, critical and analytical skills needed for graduate study and for a variety of rewarding careers in fields such as law, publishing, media, education, business, government, nonprofit groups and international-aid organizations.

 The close analysis required of an English literature major continues to help me when we’re considering a new manuscript for acquisition. Writing articles for my communications courses helped me to be more concise, which is crucial when preparing pitches and press materials. 

Mary Van Akin ’10, associate director of publicity, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Student Spotlight: Effie Gianitsos

English literature major Effie Gianitsos recently had a review published in the esteemed Sigma Tau Delta Review, an annual journal of the international English honor society. During her semester abroad at Oxford University, Gianitsos decided that she wanted to earn a Ph.D. in English literature, with the long-term goal of becoming a professor or researcher at a large university.

It was quite an honor to be published in the Sigma Tau Delta Review. That’s usually reserved for graduates. Being accepted for a Blackfriars Scholarship at Oxford boosted my confidence to pursue a career in English that’s outside of journalism or communications. Literature is a very versatile discipline and can be seen as the study of stories. The human mind thinks in terms of stories. When someone talks about their day, they usually relate it as a story. Young students are taught lessons through stories. Our culture is attached to stories. I don’t see stories going away and having a mind that can dissect what information is important is timeless.

Major in English Literature (B.A.)

13 courses | 39 credits

Required courses:

  • ENG190: Introduction to Literature
  • ENG247: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism
  • ENG325: Studies in Shakespeare
  • ENG489: Critical Writing and Research
  • ENG490: Senior Seminar

Students choose two of the following American literature courses:

  • ENG215: Elements of Modernism in Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • ENG313: The American Literary Renaissance
  • ENG314: Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • ENG315: The Harlem Renaissance
  • ENG330: Literary Landscape of Newport

Students choose two of the following British literature courses:

  • ENG228: The Romantic Revolution
  • ENG229: British Victorian Literature
  • ENG230: British Modernism and the End of Empire
  • ENG321: British Literature from Beowulf to Everyman
  • ENG322: Literature of the English Renaissance from Wyatt to Marvell
  • ENG324: Literature of Oxford
  • ENG326: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature
  • ENG329: The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Their Circle

Students choose one of the following world or regional literature courses:

  • ENG345: Studies in World Literature
  • ENG346: Post-Colonial Literature
  • ENG349: Literature From the Middle East

Students also choose three electives in literature or writing from an approved list of courses.

Major in English Literature and Secondary Education (B.A.S.)

13 courses | 39 credits

To earn the double major, students complete the courses required for a B.A. in English literature and must also meet the requirements for secondary education.

ENG281: Advanced Composition is an additional required course.

Minor in English Literature

6 courses | 18 credits

Required courses:

  • ENG190: Introduction to Literature
  • ENG247: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism
  • ENG325: Studies in Shakespeare

Students choose three additional electives in literature in consultation with their advisor or department faculty.