The Literature and Language Department offers courses in:
- British literature
- American literature
- World literature
- Multidisciplinary humanities
- Linguistics and the English language
Literature courses provide opportunities to study classic and contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry, as well as to explore literature’s historical development and its links to the society that produces it. Today, literary study involves understanding literature as a venue where thoughtful people discuss the urgent public and personal issues of our time. Students consider not only venerated literary classics but also more recent ethnic literature, literature by women, working-class literature, children’s and adolescent literature, and literature produced in specific regions or historical eras. Classes are reading and writing intensive, and instructors emphasize discussion and interactive learning. Besides becoming familiar with famous works of literature, students learn to analyze written texts, to develop and support valid interpretations, and to present their ideas orally and in writing.
Humanities courses reflect a broader approach to literary study. Humanities courses offer multi-disciplinary explorations of particular eras and topics. These courses bring together the thought, art, music, architecture, literature, and learning of the past in order to study texts in their historical and cultural settings. Current approaches to the humanities explore ways in which different kinds of artistic and intellectual works from different eras address some of the same social, political, cultural, and personal issues that are important to everyday people in today’s world. Linguistics is the study of the history and structure of language and its links to society, culture, and individual life. Because language is central to being human, an understanding of language teaches people important things about what people are like and about how society works.
Linguists examine both the historical and theoretical aspects of language and its actual use in day-to-day situations. Traditionally, a liberal arts education has always included the study of at least one world language. Mastering another language provides a valuable, even an essential, communication tool that enables one to function effectively, whether for business or pleasure, in an internationalized community. At the same time, it also teaches new ways of perceiving and organizing reality. The Literature and Language Department offers beginning and intermediate level courses in Spanish and sometimes offers introductory courses in the Ojibwe and Dakota languages.
The Literature and Language Department does not give credit for prior learning in world languages.