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Over the last twenty-five years, roughly three quarters of MIT's undergraduates have studied literature. Literature course offerings range across a broad spectrum, from single authors and major texts through games, media, national identities and historical periods to specialized topics.

The Value of Literature

Literature at MIT accommodates students with a wide variety of interests and career plans. A student may major, minor, or concentrate in literature – or take the occasional subject. Students graduating from MIT with majors in literature in recent years have been admitted into the best doctoral programs in the field, both in the U.S. and abroad. The major provides solid grounding in the discipline, with the flexibility to allow exploration of particular interests. More generally, the program develops transferable skills in writing, comprehension, and analysis relevant to a variety of different professional paths – graduates have pursued both traditional career choices (e.g., journalism, law, and medical school) and more esoteric ones, such as the gourmet food industry or computer game design.


Some Favorite Subjects

Literature subjects regularly receive some of the highest teaching evaluations at MIT. Class sizes are generally small: introductory classes are capped at 25, seminars at 12. They include subjects which are especially writing-intensive ("Writing about Literature" and other CI subjects), reading-intensive (for instance, "The Legacy of England" and some seminars), as well as a new group of 6 unit subjects, titled Samplings; we also cross-list subjects with Comparative Media Studies, Writing and Humanistic Studies, and Women's Studies. Many of our subjects fulfill the HASS-D and CI components of the GIRs. Literature subjects reflect, but do not wholly encompass, the diverse research interests of the faculty, such as seventeenth-century science; Caribbean women's fiction; television history; aesthetics and cognition; English and Scottish ballads; and travel writing.

Prof. Arthur Bahr    

An Exemplary Faculty

Our faculty have won awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching and contributions to undergraduate life, including (recently) the Arthur Smith award, the Everett Moore Baker award, and several MacVicar fellowships. Members of the Literature faculty have been pioneers in film and media studies, resulting in the creation of MIT's program in Comparative Media Studies, as well as in benchmark projects such as the Shakespeare Electronic Archive. Our faculty have won awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, and the Canada Research Council, to name only a few, as well as the Wade Prize, the Levitan Award and the Edgerton Award here at MIT.

Members of our faculty participate in local and international research initiatives on new media literacies, cultural identity, the emergence of an early modern public sphere, and the culture of Victorian London. As speakers, they have delivered keynote and plenary addresses on virtually every continent. Their work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Korean, and Chinese – and has even been set to music. In their spare time, members of the faculty might be found performing folk songs, working as dramaturges, giving poetry readings, teaching aikido, listening to Zimbabwean music, or watching cricket.