> Articles > Choosing a College Literature Class

Choosing a College Literature Class

Choosing a College Literature Class

Students pursuing a liberal arts degree and even people enrolled in professional programs often must take a literature class as part of their general requirements. Such courses strengthen reading skills and promote critical thinking – abilities that serve people well regardless of their future occupation.

The pages will fly by when you select a type of literature that matches your interests. While specific courses vary by institution, here are some common subfields to consider:

American Literature

Expect to see Hemingway, Twain, Fitzgerald, and other authors who have stood the test of time on virtually any American Lit class’s reading list. However, instructors today also make a point of seeing the American experience through a variety of multicultural and gender lenses. Students walk away with a greater understanding of America’s rich history and culture.


Loved reading Romeo and Juliet in high school? The Bard wrote plenty of other masterpieces! Explore the issue of revenge in Hamlet. Witness what happens when ambition goes unchecked in Macbeth. See how far jealousy can push a husband who believes he was wronged in Othello. The works are centuries old, but the storylines continue to ring true with audiences today.

British Literature

While Shakespeare may get his own category on Jeopardy more often, don’t for a minute think he’s the only name worth knowing in British literature. If you’ve seen the film Emma or even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you’ve gotten a taste of what Jane Austen is all about. Discover more Brits who have made great literary contributions: Geoffrey Chaucer, Virginia Woolf, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, to name a few.

Children’s Literature

Rereading books you enjoyed as a child through adult eyes proves both nostalgic and eye-opening. Learn how this genre shapes our early experiences. Examine how artwork contributes to what readers feel. Figure out why greats such as Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary remain popular generation after generation.

African American Literature

Events take on different looks depending on who is doing the telling. Students can expect to gain an alternate perspective on history and the experiences of people of color when reading the works of African American authors. From slave narratives to the novels of Toni Morrison, readers encounter authentic voices bound to remain in their memory for years to come.

LGBTQ Literature

Often underrepresented in general literature classes, this genre focuses specifically on books written by LGBTQ authors or that contain LGBTQ plots/characters. Discover pioneers in the field such as Sappho, Walt Whitman, and Oscar Wilde. Examine censorship issues through the years. Think about portrayals of same-sex relationships in modern young adult novels such as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Special Topics in Literature

Literature instructors oftentimes possess interest in specialty areas. Take advantage of their expertise on a certain subject. A look at class offerings may reveal topics such as:

  • The Bible as Literature
  • Graphic Novels
  • International Literature
  • Asian American Literature
  • Novel and Film
  • Literature by Women

The bottom line: Find a course that sparks your interest! Just be certain to verify that what you pick satisfies your degree’s requirement. Happy reading.