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417 Barnard Hall  
212-854-2116 / 212-854-8971
212-854-9498 (fax)
Department Administrator: Lucy Coolidge
Department Administrative Assistant: Sarah Pasadino

Chair: Peter Platt (Professor)
Professors: James Basker (Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History), Christopher Baswell (Ann Whitney Olin Professor), Yvette Christiansë, Polly Devlin (Visiting), Mary Gordon (Millicent C. McIntosh Professor in English and Writing), Lisa Gordis, Achsah Guibbory (Acting Chair and Ann Whitney Olin Professor), Kim Hall (Lucyle Hook Professor of English and Director, Africana Studies), Maire Jaanus, William Sharpe, Maura Spiegel (Term)
Associate Professors: Jonathan Beller, James Fenton (Visiting), Jennifer Gilmore (Visiting), Ross Hamilton, Saskia Hamilton (Director, Women Poets at Barnard), Jennie Kassanoff, Hisham Matar (Visiting), Belinda McKeon (Visiting), Ellen McLaughlin (Visiting), Monica Miller, Eliza Minot (Visiting), Richard Panek (Visiting), Maggie Pouncey (Visiting)
Assistant Professors: Bashir Abu-Manneh (Director, Film Program), Tanya Barfield (Visiting), Rachel Eisendrath, Nick Laird (Visiting)
Senior Scholar: Anne Lake Prescott
Senior Lecturers: Pamela Cobrin (Director, Writing Program; Co-Director, Speaking Program), Patricia Denison, Peggy Ellsberg, Cary Plotkin, Timea Szell (Director, Creative Writing), Margaret Vandenburg (Director, First-Year English)
Lecturers: Constance Brown, Mary Cregan, Kate Levin (Visiting), John Pagano, Stephan Pedatella (Visiting), Aaron Schneider
Senior Associate: Quandra Prettyman
Associates: Shelly Fredman, Charlotte Friedman, Rory Jones, Wendy Schor-Haim (Associate Director, Writing Program)


The offering in English is designed to foster good writing, effective speaking, and heightened understanding of culturally significant texts. We encourage students majoring in English to develop their responsiveness to the literary imagination and their sensitivity to literary form through disciplined attention to language, historical contexts, and critical and scholarly methods.

For all students, including transfers, "a minimum of six semester courses must be completed while the student is in residence at Barnard."

Student Learning Objectives for the English Major and the American Literature, Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing Concentrations

Our objectives represent the teaching aims of the English Department. All instructors are free to decide which of these objectives are consistent with their particular courses and teaching methods.

Students who graduate with a major in English should be able to obtain the following objectives:

  • demonstrate critical and analytical reading skills.
  • demonstrate critical and analytical writing skills.
  • display an understanding of literary genre, form, and language.
  • show a familiarity with the issues of literary criticism and theory.
  • show an awareness of literary history.
  • engage deeply with at least one major author.
  • incorporate secondary sources, with proper citations, in a larger essay.
  • understand texts in their cultural contexts.

Specific to the America Literature Concentration:

  • demonstrate familiarity with American authors and texts across the span of American literary history.
  • analyze American texts of various genres including poetry, fiction, drama, autobiography, and political documents.
  • write a substantial research project on American texts. This project should integrate primary and secondary materials, demonstrating the student's ability to analyze texts and her familiarity with the critical landscape.

Specific to the Film Concentration:

  • explain the major concepts or ideas of film theory.
  • write a basic/elementary screenplay.
  • demonstrate an understanding of film’s relationship to a range of other disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

Specific to the Theatre Concentration:

  • analyze dramatic literature in the context of theatre history, culture, performance practice, theory, and criticism.
  • develop skills in critical reading and writing, textual analysis, independent research, and oral presentation.

Specific to the Creative Writing Concentration:

  • develop a mastery of the linguistic demands of a variety of literary forms.
  • demonstrate a critically sound grasp of structure in prose and poetry.
  • explore the formal possibilities of the genres in which they are working.
  • develop critical sophistication in reading and speaking about others' work.
  • grasp the importance of thoroughly revising their own work.
  • detect concrete and figurative language in others’ work.
  • achieve precision in their own use of concrete and figurative language.
  • produce an original piece of fiction, a set of poems, a play, or a work of creative non-fiction.