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With its historically rich and culturally diverse curriculum, Literary Arts and Studies provides students with a broad and synthetic understanding of a particular period, genre, movement or issue in literary study. It reinforces the development of keen critical thinking and reading skills, an effective and individual writing voice, and a deep and nuanced understanding of the role of literature in a range of different cultures and historical periods. In short, students gain a solid foundation from which to engage in contemporary culture in an informed and responsible way — as critics, creative writers, performers, artists and designers.

Literary Arts + Studies Concentration

a focused liberal arts "minor"

In (and out of) the Classroom

A wide range of course offerings — from film studies to critical theory to performance studies to both traditional and unconventional approaches to British, American and world literatures — emphasize the role of texts in political, historical and cultural contexts. Students also take advantage of writing workshops in journalism, fiction and poetry.

William Lenard | LAS concentrator

“Writing is a great release from studio work. My concentration has also really influenced what I do in the studio. I've written hundreds of poems and in the studio I try to give my poetry physical form through furniture. Overall, RISD has given me so much confidence. I've learned that I can take something positive from any failure and have a much clearer image of who I am and what I want to produce. After graduation, I definitely intend to keep writing poetry for my own sake — to develop a better understanding of myself and my surroundings.”

Nicole Merola | department head

“As an environmental humanities scholar, my research takes place at the intersection of literature, visual culture, science and the environment, with a current emphasis on climate change. This led to a trip to the Norwegian Arctic in the summer of 2013 to witness firsthand an environment where the effects of climate change are immediately apparent. Like all faculty in LAS, I make use of my research in my teaching. I introduce students to current debates in the environmental humanities, help them refine their own sense of how to think about historical and contemporary environmental issues and aid them in becoming more sophisticated readers, consumers and producers of cultural objects.”

Overall, the LAS curriculum reflects faculty research interests in ancient, medieval and early modern literatures, African-American literature and culture, critical theory, ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, gender and sexuality, global literatures, performance studies, poetry and poetics, postcolonial studies, race and ethnicity, and visual and popular culture studies.