The Literature BA Program

Students majoring in literature at Purchase College learn to read texts closely and critically and to understand literature in relation to the social and historical conditions in which it is written and read.

Program Highlights

  • The principal focus of the major is British and American literature; the program places these national literatures in an international frame. Thus, students may count toward the major courses in French, Spanish, and other literatures, in translation or in the original language.
  • In addition to courses in traditional literatures, students may take courses in contemporary literature, popular culture, and film.
  • Feminist inquiry, the critical study of race, and other theoretical or interdisciplinary approaches are central to the literature curriculum.
  • In learning to read, write, and think about literature and the world it reflects, inhabits, and creates, students gain valuable preparation for advanced academic study and for the professional world.

Program Goals
Over their course of study, students majoring in literature gain the following:

  1. Practice in close reading: the ability to make observations about textual details, including the formal structures and rhetorical features of a particular passage, to describe these details accurately, and to relate them to larger structures in a text as a whole.
  2. Familiarity with major texts and the processes of canon formation: familiarity with the major works, major authors, and major genres that have traditionally been objects of literary study, and an understanding of the social and historical forces that influence literary canon formation.
  3. An understanding of literature in its contexts: the ability to recognize and study how literary works are embedded in their cultural, historical, and/or generic contexts.
  4. Familiarity with period styles: an understanding of the concept of the literary period and the ability to identify changes over time in literary themes, conventions, and practices.
  5. An understanding of the discipline of literature: the ability to participate in one or more of the conversations that define the discipline and its interdisciplinary extensions, including theory and cultural studies.
  6. Research skills: the ability to conduct research, using online and print resources, and to evaluate sources and make use of them in written and oral work.
  7. Writing and reporting skills: the ability to produce coherent texts and oral reports that present relevant material in an engaging and informative manner.

Literature Faculty (Board of Study)
Anthony Paul Domestico, MA, MPhil, Yale University
Gari LaGuardia, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Elise V. Lemire, PhD, Rutgers University
Kathleen A. McCormick, PhD, University of Connecticut
Gaura Narayan, PhD, Columbia University
Lee Schlesinger, PhD, Yale University
Aviva Taubenfeld, PhD, Columbia University
Gary Waller, PhD, University of Cambridge
Louise Yelin, PhD, Columbia University

For additional information:
School of Humanities Faculty

For updates during 2013–2015, please visit

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