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The department of English Language and Literature aims to teach all the students it serves, both majors and non-majors, to write and speak well and to read skillfully, thoughtfully and with pleasure. We continue to offer many courses that stress literary history and canonical figures, but we also give our students opportunities to experiment with a variety of new fields, theoretical perspectives and linguistic developments, and to pursue creative writing of their own.

We expect that our majors will graduate with an understanding of the historical and cultural forces that have shaped literatures in English, beginning in the British Isles, but now spread across the world. We want all our students to learn to wrestle with the complex interpretive challenges that literature poses and to become, in the words of Henry James, people "upon whom nothing is lost."

News & Events

The Department of English Language and Literature and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender invite applications for an equally shared joint tenure-track position at the rank of assistant professor, starting Fall 2015. Learn more...

News & Events

Literary Lunch

Literary Lunches take place in Seelye 207 from noon-1 p.m. As always, lunch is provided for the first 20 attendees. All are welcome!

Spring 2015-For spring, the lunches will take place on Fridays, 12:00-1:00 in Seelye 207. The topic descriptions will be listed here as they become available.

Friday, February 13

Friday, February 27

Friday, March 27

Friday, April 10



Memorial Service for

Patricia L. Skarda, 1946-2014

We are saddened to announce the death of our colleague Professor Patricia Skarda, who passed away on September 2, 2014. A memorial service at Smith College was held on Saturday, November 8 at 2 p.m. in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel, with a reception afterwards at the Smith Conference Center.

Donations in memory of Professor Skarda may be made to the Smith Fund or to a new fund, the "Professor Patricia Skarda Memorial Fund" in support of student-centered activities in the English department. In the spirit of Pat's love and concern for her students over more than forty years, the new fund will provide for cultural excursions, student-faculty gatherings, and other enrichments of the Smith educational experience for all English majors. Those who wish to donate to the English department's Professor Patricia Skarda Memorial Fund should make your donation check out to Smith College, and in the memo line of the check please reference Fund number 443448 with the words Patricia Skarda Memorial Fund. Donations should be mailed to the Smith College Gifts and Records Office at 33 Elm Street in Northampton, MA.

As her many generations of devoted students are aware, Pat's graduate work centered on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, an abiding love. In her honor, we present one of his poems.

            Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
     For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
          For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings;
     Landscape plotted and pieced— fold, fallow, and plough;
          And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour, adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                              Praise him.

Written Summer 1877. Poems (1918).