Literary Arts + Studies

Literary Arts and Studies provides a rich array of course offerings in literature, literary and cultural theory, and various forms of writing. Courses are generally discussion-based and focus on the development of keen critical thinking and reading skills, an effective and individual writing voice, and a deep and nuanced understanding of the role of literature in a range of different cultures and historical periods.

Literary Arts + Studies Concentration

  • LAS
  • A focused liberal arts “minor”

Course offerings include both traditional and unconventional approaches to British, American and world literature, emphasizing the literary arts in political, historical and cultural contexts. Writing workshops are offered in a variety of genres – ranging from nonfiction and journalism to fiction, poetry and playwriting.

William Lenard | LAS concentrator + Furniture Design senior

William Lenard

“Writing is a great release from studio work. My concentration has also really influenced what I do in the studio. I’ve written hundreds of poems and in the studio I try to give my poetry physical form through furniture. Overall, RISD has given me so much confidence. I’ve learned that I can take something positive from any failure and have a much clearer image of who I am and what I want to produce. After graduation, I definitely intend to keep writing poetry for my own sake — to develop a better understanding of myself and my surroundings.”

Nicole Merola | department head + associate professor

“During a sabbatical last year, I visited the Arctic to see for myself what’s really going on with global warming. I knew I’d see plenty of ice and mountains, but I was simply bowled over by the sheer size of the rock faces, the beauty of the ever-changing light and the unexpected colors of the lichen and other summertime Arctic flora. And the charismatic megafauna – the walruses, whales and polar bears – were mesmerizing. I spent hours watching a walrus pile at rest and observed firsthand the disappearing ice where polar bears hunt seals. I’ve since been weaving these experiences and my emotional responses to them into my classes on biodiversity and climate change.”

In addition to providing a strong disciplinary foundation, Literary Arts and Studies offers comparative examinations of the dialogue among diverse literary traditions. Interdisciplinary approaches also invite thinking about literature in relation to other disciplines such as eco-theory and environment studies, gender and sexuality, visual and popular culture, postcolonial cultures, race and ethnicity, and material poetics.