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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


FACULTY OPENING: Assistant Professor of English and the Study of Women and Gender Apply Here


Literary Lunch:

Literary Lunches take place in Seelye 207 from 12:00-1:00 As always, lunch is provided for the first 20 attendees. All are welcome!

Wednesday, September 24 English majors in the world of work. A panel discussion by majors who had internships that drew on or connected to their skills and interests as majors

Wednesday, October 8 Smith's new Provost/Dean of the Faculty (and former Bryn Mawr English professor) Katherine Rowe will demonstrate and talk about designing her brilliant "Shakespeare apps"—an innovative digital humanities project that links the text of the play to a rich array of visual materials.

Wednesday, October 22 "Speedreadings": our creative writing professors will do brief readings from their work —and talk about what they do in their creative writing classes, and what's on offer for the spring term.

Wednesday, November 12 Karen Kukil, of the Mortimer Rare Book Room, will bring in and lead a "hands-on" discussion of some newly discovered—and not yet publically available—Sylvia Plath letters!

ENG Presentation of the Major

The Presentation of the English department major will be on Wednesday, November 5th in Campus Center room 103/104 at noon. A pizza lunch will be provided.


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 will be held on Saturday, November 8th at 2:00 in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel, with a reception to follow at the Smith Conference Center. All are invited to attend.

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).