Arzu Program of Languages and Literature


The study of literature can be a stepping-stone to a lifetime of passionate engagement with authors and texts. It can also form the basis of a lifelong critical engagement with questions of history, culture, philosophy, and literary tradition. The Arzu program currently offers a minor in English and Comparative Literature (ECL) that will enable students to fulfil both these possibilities. We investigate literary texts critically and aesthetically as well as in relation to social and historical formations. Students have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with established areas of literary studies and with new perspectives emerging from postcolonial and non-western sites of knowledge.

Our curriculum will foreground key topics and themes that inform the study of literature in the contemporary moment with an awareness of our regional and cultural context. The curriculum of the minor focuses on how literary representation intersects with theoretical interpretation, imaginative practice, and socio-historical knowledge. The minor is designed to provide opportunities for both broad-based and intensive studies. It will appeal to a range of student interests by offering courses on literary representation, authors, and aesthetic forms as well as on the social meaning and lived experience of literature in the past and in the contemporary moment.

There are two respects in which the undergraduate minor is distinctive. Building on the interdisciplinary nature of AHSS programs and the presence of a growing faculty that teach regional languages, its curriculum has room to evolve a comparative approach to our region’s literary traditions. Second, we envisage an important role for creative writing in fulfilling the curricular aims of the program. Creative writing courses, especially if taken in a focused cluster of minor courses, will allow Habib students to explore imaginative forms and techniques of writing, and read for the narrative and rhetorical strategies through which texts become meaningful for readers.

Areas of Focus

  • Comparative Literature/ Translation Studies
  • Literary Histories and Cultures
  • Literary Theory
  • Creative Writing

Program Outcomes

  • Read and interpret literary texts, as well as texts more broadly conceived, for style, form, theme, rhetoric, and significance. Identify and analyze literary genres and interpretive strategies, and historical and thematic approaches. Use both textual and contextual information to understand the significance of texts in literary traditions as well as for possible literary futures.
  • Be able to write clearly and reason persuasively using the complex rhetorical skills they learn though literature.
  • Learn to research the interdisciplinary themes and ideas they encounter through ECL, and apply these insights to their studies in general as well as other contexts (such as work, for instance).
  • Use skills learned in literary studies in working with non-textual media.
  • Acquire practice in creative writing, and be able to analyze and critique it.
  • Gain familiarity with contemporary literary forms and experimentation as well as with the historical literary cultures in which they are produced.
  • Articulate how literary concerns impact critical issues of social, historical and political relevance, and, conversely, be able to analyze how such issues impact the reception of literary texts.
  • Use perspectives and skills acquired through literary studies to read political narratives and social texts, and to participate in responsible citizenship.

What can students do with a literature minor?

A minor is a less extensive curriculum of courses than a major. It can be pursued alongside a major program of studies. A minor can allow you to do several different things:

  • It is helpful to explore the subject (or a subset of interests related to literature) that majors do not at present address adequately
  • It can be invaluable in applying to graduate school to study literature or related subjects. As the two majors presently offered in AHSS both emphasize breadth and inter-disciplinarity, a minor with a more pronounced focus may help students in this regard
  • It can add significant skills and knowledge that will help students find careers in a number of fields. A minor in literature will help students be better prepared for diverse fields such as print and electronic media, education, marketing, development, human resources, and public relations, etc. It will also reinforce writing and critical thinking skills that help students pursue careers in almost any other field they choose
  • It can lead a lifetime of pleasurable engagement with the subject and cultivate habits of critical engagement with and nuanced reading of texts


  1. A minimum of 20 credit hours is required. In consultation with their faculty advisors, students may design the minor to complement their major or to focus on a theme that cuts across the minor’s areas of focus.
  2. The minor must be declared no later than two semesters before graduation by submitting a Declaration of Minor form to the Office of the Registrar.
  3. The 200-level course ‘Reading, Writing, and Thinking Literature’ is required.
  4. A minimum of two courses at the upper (300 or 400) level is required.
  5. Students may choose to do an upper-level independent study. Its topic and plan of studies must be drawn up in consultation with the faculty member supervising the study and approved by the program’s Board of Studies. Independent studies must be approved and the Office of the Registrar must be notified by submission of the approved Independent Study form, no later than the end of the enrolment period of the semester, in which the study is to be undertaken.
  6. Elective courses may be used to fulfil minor requirements.
  7. Students may count a course towards both the ECL minor and a liberal core requirement. For instance, if you complete a 3-credit course to fulfil the Language and Expression Breadth requirement and then proceed to become an ECL minor, the course will count towards both sets of requirements. However, you will receive only 3 credits for the course, not six.
  8. Students may not count a course towards ECL and another minor. For possible exceptions, please consult the program director.
  9. Study abroad courses may receive credit in the minor. The procedure will be the same as laid down in the University’s Transfer of Credits Policy.
  10. Ungraded courses except for courses for which the University’s First Semester Grades Policy applies, may not receive credit in the minor.