The English department's objective is the close critical study of literature in English in an international and interdisciplinary context.
Courses in the English department engage students in the close critical study of English-language literature in an international and interdisciplinary context, encompassing works from British, American, and other Anglophone literary traditions. In keeping with Occidental’s mission values of equity and excellence, students in English courses read the work of both long-studied writers and of those previously excluded from traditional literary history. Majors will 1) become proficient in close reading and focused discussion of individual literary works, 2) learn to situate those works in their generative historical, geographic and social contexts, and 3) become skilled in interpreting them through a range of theories and methods that characterize the evolving discipline of literary studies. Non-majors will develop their capacity to engage in close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Most courses in the department are seminars or combinations of lecture and discussion. This pedagogical orientation underscores the department’s strong emphasis on faculty-student interaction and the collaborative production of knowledge. Introductory survey courses (ENGL 287-289) expose students to the breadth and diversity of Anglophone literary history. Upper division courses (ENGL 300 level classes) develop sophisticated skills in literary analysis, interpretive writing, and oral presentation. Methodological and research-oriented seminars in the sophomore, junior and senior years (ENGL 290, 390 and 490) direct students in the practice of original independent analysis that places primary textual interpretation in dialogue with secondary critical research.
Roger Guenveur Smith will perform his newest work, "Performing History", inspired by his undergraduate studies at Occidental College in the American Studies Department.
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