Category Archives: News


“Books are to be call’d for, and supplied, on the assumption that the process of reading is not a half-sleep, but, in highest sense, an exercise, a gymnast’s struggle; that the reader is to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay—the text furnishing the hints, the clue, the start or framework. Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does. That were to make a nation of supple and athletic minds, well-train’d, intuitive, used to depend on themselves, and not a few coteries of writers.”

—Walt Whitman, “Democratic Vistas”

The first course in a two-course introductory sequence to the English major, Literary Analysis is designed to develop interpretive skills, critical awareness and confidence in preparation for more advanced work in English and the humanities.

Literary Analysis invites students to read and discuss imaginative literature; become familiar with key terms, concepts, critical problems, and theoretical debates in English studies; and develop the habits of mind and skills to effectively analyze texts—especially through the process of writing. Students will also learn the protocols for writing with sources, in-text citation and compiling a list of works cited.

Close attention to imaginative writing, and engagement with the intellectual problems such writing presents, will lead you to consider key and contested terms in the discipline; the organization of the current-traditional discipline of English studies; the cultural role of English studies; new prospects in literary and cultural studies; ongoing transformations in the university library, including the fate of the monograph, popular and academic journals, special holdings and archives; changing conditions and expectations for research with the advent of web-based resources, including paper archives, wikis and other sources of electronic information; and the concept of intellectual property and its relation to community standards for academic honesty. These conversations will help you better understand your primary field of study in college as well as get the most out of your English courses.








Living the Liberal Arts

Only a few years ago, Caitlyn McCain was setting up a blog in English 215 and writing her personal essay on her experiences with writing in school. Today she is blogging alongside Jeffrey Sachs, Ralph Nader, and Patricia McGuire at the Huffington Post. The Huffington Post is read by millions of readers, and the Huff Post College pages are frequented by tens of thousands of people.

Last week, our very own Teaching Assistant Caitlyn posted her first essay on HuffPost College.called “The Advantage of a Liberal Arts Living Space” describes the heady life of a student on a campus that values the liberal arts. The essay is a semi-promotional piece written for the Keene State College community in her internship at the KSC Marketing and Communications Office.

As a professor at a public liberal arts college, I appreciated Caitlyn’s glimpse into the experience of “living the liberal arts” at a school that values more than preparation for the specialized tasks of a professional life. I recently read an essay by Cecelia Gaposchkin in the November/December issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in which she calls for all of us to share the meaning and value of the liberal arts in an age when specialization appears to be the coin of the college realm. In “Train the Brain,” Gaposchkin argues that the liberal arts are a “means to stoke curiosity, promote critical thinking, and, simply put, make you smarter” (26). A liberal arts education, she goes on to say, “teaches you to distinguish between fact and opinion and to use facts to pursued informed agendas. These skills are sharpened first in the context of an area of major study, but the point is that they are basic transferable skills, to be used in any—or many—contexts. This is why,” she adds, “when employers hire students from liberal arts colleges, they care less about the student’s major than about the student’s ability to talk about his or her major.”

This line of thinking makes a lot of sense the more you spend time with students whose lives after College unfold in unpredictable ways. It also should make sense to students who, as Caitlyn points out, are experiencing “how beneficial a liberal arts living space is to you—not only as a student, but also as a person.”