Faculty & Staff
Course Offerings
Major & Minor
Department Liaisons
Creative Writing
Study Abroad
Prizes & Awards
News & Events
Contact Us

This week's quote:


This week's quotation is the poem "Medicinal" by Gerald Stern, who will read at Smith on 10/25 at 7:30 in Weinstein Auditorium.


I gave thanks of a sort that there were waves,
green oil or not, and that the bridge was low
and made of wood and that the ride was longer
than I expected; and I had time afterward
to put it together again, whatever the name of the
swamp was, though I drove myself crazy
trying to figure out what the dirt road was
and if the flower I picked was medicinal,
and was it the tiny round head or the long root,
and could I save a life? Not to mention
the mystery of the small cement building
and where the driver himself came from—
was he the one from Thessalonica,
a Turk as I recall, and was he the one
who wore a necktie with green on one side
and brown on the other that bore a screaming eagle
with bolts of lightning coming from the claws
your grandfather wore in the early thirties
when he did curbside at Idlewild.

(originally published in The New Yorker, 2/4/13)



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."