In addition to declaring a studio major and completing the required 42 Liberal Arts credits needed to graduate, all RISD students have the option of choosing a concentration in one of three Liberal Arts departments: History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC); History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences (HPSS); or Literary Arts and Studies (LAS).
The 27-credit undergraduate concentration in Literary Arts and Studies is designed for students who wish to complement their studio major with more in-depth studies in literature and writing. The concentration can be completed as part of a typical 4- or 5-year degree program and is open to all RISD BFA candidates. Students may opt to focus on courses in literary history and traditions, critical theory and creative writing (including workshops in poetry and fiction writing), postcolonial literatures and cultures, environmental humanities, race and gender, film and performance. LAS concentrators may take courses in as many of the areas covered by the department as possible or develop a personal course of study that allows for deeper exploration of a range of literary genres, periods and theoretical approaches. Concentrators often choose to study the development of a particular literary tradition and investigate its relation to other traditions, focus on an issue or genre and investigate its relationship to contemporary critical theories or focus on creative writing (poetry, fiction, new genres), among many other options.
In addition to providing a strong disciplinary foundation, LAS courses aim to promote understanding of the relationship between literary cultures and other forms of cultural production. To this end, a number of interdisciplinary courses have been added recently, including Dialogue Across the Diaspora: Haiti, South Africa, Art, and Narratives of Resistance, Illustrating Dante’s Comedy, Ekphrasis and Its Reverse: Writing from Art, Art from Writing, Paleography: Western Handwritten Letterforms,Exploring the Art and Science of Biodiversity in Guyana and Savage Iconographies: Art, Race and Public Space from Roger Williams to Barak Obama.
Concentrators are able to:
• exhibit competence in close reading skills and other literary and cultural studies methodologies for engaging with texts and media
• explain the rhetorical, theoretical and social functions of language
• assess research sources for authority, accuracy and appropriateness; analyze, synthesize, employ and document multiple sources in their writing
• analyze, situate and interpret texts in a variety of media and material practices with respect to relevant aesthetic, cultural, critical, ethical, historical, material and/or political contexts
• articulate the relationship between literary texts and cultures and other forms of cultural production
• develop a clear and effective writing voice and be able to produce original work that engages other texts, practices and the world in an informed way
• demonstrate the ability to listen and respond to the comments of other students in ways that respect differences of opinion
“We encourage students to take advantage of our rich curriculum in LAS to explore as broadly or as deeply as they wish. As concentration coordinator, I enjoy working with students and witnessing the many weird and wonderful things they do with their studies. Some choose to take literature courses from many different cultural and historical backgrounds; others focus deeply on particular topics or issues, such as gender theory or postcolonial literary cultures; still others take every opportunity to work on writing in different genres and contexts. In all cases, students find that the concentration not only helps them become more effective writers, but also – relatedly – more incisive thinkers and critics.”
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