Literature

A photograph of stacked books arranged as a statue.

A sculpture made of books by Matej Krén in the Municipal Library of Prague. (Image courtesy of hellabella on Flickr.)


Featured Courses

Literature has been a central experience for the majority of MIT's undergraduates for more than 25 years: over that time approximately 75 percent of all undergraduates have studied the subject.

Designed to serve students majoring, minoring, and concentrating in Literature as well as those students who may get to take only one or two Literature subjects while at the Institute, the Literature curriculum at MIT offers a wide range of undergraduate classes at Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Most classes are small and offer significant opportunity for student writing and speaking. Many classes focus on literature written in English, though we offer many others covering works in translation from antiquity to yesterday.

Notable for its interdisciplinary variety and for its openness to film and other forms of popular culture, the Literature program is also strong in traditional areas and historical periods such as Renaissance and the 19th Century. Most classes at all levels are offered once a year; many of the HASS-D introductory classes are offered every semester. Staffed by well-published, influential scholars and creative writers, the Literature faculty is recognized for its superior and committed teaching.


Literature Courses

Course # Course Title Level
21L.000J Writing About Literature Undergraduate
21L.001 Foundations of Western Culture: Homer to Dante Undergraduate
21L.001X Foundations of World Culture I: World Civilizations and Texts Undergraduate
21L.002 Foundations of Western Culture: The Making of the Modern World Undergraduate
21L.002 Foundations of Western Culture II Undergraduate
21L.002-2 Foundations of Western Culture II: Renaissance to Modernity Undergraduate
21L.002X Foundations of World Culture II: World Literatures and Texts Undergraduate
21L.003 Reading Fiction (Fall 2008) Undergraduate
21L.003 Introduction to Fiction (Fall 2003) Undergraduate
21L.003 Introduction to Fiction (Spring 2002) Undergraduate
21L.003-1 Reading Fiction: Dysfunctional Families Undergraduate
21L.003-2 Reading Fiction (Spring 2007) Undergraduate
21L.003-2 Reading Fiction (Fall 2006) Undergraduate
21L.004 Reading Poetry Undergraduate
21L.004 Major Poets (Fall 2005) Undergraduate
21L.004 Major Poets (Fall 2001) Undergraduate
21L.005 Introduction to Drama (Fall 2008) Undergraduate
21L.005 Introduction to Drama (Fall 2004) Undergraduate
21L.006 American Literature Undergraduate
21L.007 World Literatures: Travel Writing Undergraduate
21L.007J After Columbus Undergraduate
21L.008J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies Undergraduate
21L.009 Shakespeare Undergraduate
21L.010 Writing with Shakespeare Undergraduate
21L.011 The Film Experience Undergraduate
21L.012 Forms of Western Narrative (Fall 2007) Undergraduate
21L.012 Forms of Western Narrative (Spring 2004) Undergraduate
21L.014J Empire: Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Studies Undergraduate
21L.015 Introduction to Media Studies (Fall 2005) Undergraduate
21L.015 Introduction to Media Studies (Fall 2003) Undergraduate
21L.016 Learning from the Past: Drama, Science, Performance Undergraduate
21L.017 The Art of the Probable: Literature and Probability Undergraduate
21L.310 Bestsellers: The Memoir Undergraduate
21L.310 Bestsellers: Detective Fiction Undergraduate
21L.315 Prizewinners Undergraduate
21L.325 Small Wonders: Media, Modernity, and the Moment: Experiments in Time Undergraduate
21L.325 Small Wonders: Staying Alive Undergraduate
21L.420 Literary Studies: The Legacy of England Undergraduate
21L.421 Comedy Undergraduate
21L.422 Tragedy Undergraduate
21L.423J Introduction to Anglo-American Folk Music Undergraduate
21L.430 Popular Culture and Narrative: Literature, Comics, and Culture Undergraduate
21L.430 Popular Narrative: Masterminds Undergraduate
21L.432 Understanding Television Undergraduate
21L.435 Shakespeare, Film and Media Undergraduate
21L.448J Darwin and Design (Fall 2010) Undergraduate
21L.448J Darwin and Design (Fall 2003) Undergraduate
21L.449 End of Nature Undergraduate
21L.450 Literature and Ethical Values Undergraduate
21L.451 Introduction to Literary Theory Undergraduate
21L.455 Classical Literature: The Golden Age of Augustan Rome Undergraduate
21L.458 The Bible Undergraduate
21L.460 Medieval Literature: Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer Undergraduate
21L.460 Medieval Literature: Medieval Women Writers Undergraduate
21L.463 Renaissance Literature Undergraduate
21L.470 Eighteenth-Century Literature: Versions of the Self in 18th-C Britain Undergraduate
21L.471 Major English Novels (Spring 2009) Undergraduate
21L.471 Major English Novels (Spring 2004) Undergraduate
21L.471 Major English Novels: Reading Romantic Fiction Undergraduate
21L.472 Major European Novels Undergraduate
21L.476 Romantic Poetry Undergraduate
21L.481 Victorian Literature and Culture Undergraduate
21L.485 20th-Century Fiction Undergraduate
21L.486 Modern Drama Undergraduate
21L.487 Modern Poetry Undergraduate
21L.488 Contemporary Literature: Literature, Development, and Human Rights Undergraduate
21L.488 Contemporary Literature: British Novels Now Undergraduate
21L.488 Contemporary Literature Undergraduate
21L.489J Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice (Spring 2006) Undergraduate
21L.489J Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice (Spring 2004) Undergraduate
21L.489J Theory and Practice of Non-linear and Interactive Narrative Undergraduate
21L.501 The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger Undergraduate
21L.501 The American Novel Undergraduate
21L.504J Race and Identity in American Literature: Keepin' it Real Fake Undergraduate
21L.512 American Authors: American Women Authors Undergraduate
21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Literature and Urban Experience Undergraduate
21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Beyond the Limits of the Lyric Undergraduate
21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Literature and Photography: The Image Undergraduate
21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Interpreting Poetry Undergraduate
21L.701 Literary Interpretation: Virginia Woolf's Shakespeare Undergraduate
21L.702 Studies in Fiction: Rethinking the American Masterpiece Undergraduate
21L.702 Studies in Fiction: Stowe, Twain, and the Transformation of 19th-Century America Undergraduate
21L.703 Studies in Drama: Too Hot to Handle: Forbidden Plays in Modern America Undergraduate
21L.703 Studies in Drama: Theater and Science in a Time of War Undergraduate
21L.703 Studies in Drama: Stoppard and Churchill Undergraduate
21L.703 English Renaissance Drama: Theatre and Society in the Age of Shakespeare Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: 20th Century Irish Poetry: The Shadow of W. B. Yeats Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: From the Sonneteers to the Metaphysicals Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: "What's the Use of Beauty?" Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry - British Poetry and the Sciences of the Mind Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: Gender and Lyric -- Renaissance Men and Women Writing about Love Undergraduate
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: "Does Poetry Matter" Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: America's Literary Scientists Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: Rewriting Genesis: "Paradise Lost" and Twentieth-Century Fantasy Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: John Milton Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: After the Masterpiece: Novels by Melville, Twain, Faulkner, and Morrison Undergraduate
21L.705 Masterworks in American Short Fiction Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: Oscar Wilde and the '90's Undergraduate
21L.705 Major Authors: Melville and Morrison Undergraduate
21L.706 Studies in Film Undergraduate
21L.707 Arthurian Literature and Celtic Colonization Undergraduate
21L.707 Writing Early American Lives: Gender, Race, Nation, Faith Undergraduate
21L.708 Technologies of Humanism Undergraduate
21L.709 Studies in Literary History: Modernism: From Nietzsche to Fellini Undergraduate
21L.715 Media in Cultural Context Undergraduate
21L.715 Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships Undergraduate
21L.995 Special Topics in Literature: Milton's "Paradise Lost" Undergraduate