• Why Literature?

    • Become cosmopolitan readers of the human experience

      See more

    • Explore Our Courses

    • From Dante to Horror Films to Classical Chinese, there's plenty to choose from!

      See more

    • Faculty Publications

    • See what we have been thinking and writing about. (photo by Jolene Lum '19)

      See more

    • Meet Our Students

    • We love to read, write, and travel! (photo by Jolene Lum '19)

      See more

    • Alumna, Class of 2017
    • Chia Pei Yun
    How did the Literature major shape your Yale-NUS experience?

    Majoring in Literature was a liberating decision. Our major was so small and collaborative, and we all got along splendidly as friends and as colleagues. I never felt left out even as the last person to join (and late!). The Literature faculty is another highlight. It’s not every day that you find professors so dedicated to teaching and to teaching you to think for yourself. On the whole, I’m glad and grateful that I decided to major in a Humanities subject. Looking over the months and years since that decision, I can see that I have grown tremendously as a person—I would even say that I’ve grown into myself, and into the confidence that it requires to be myself. It made my Yale-NUS experience worth it.

    The study of Literature has, far more than life experiences themselves can, taught me that other people exist, and that other people’s experiences matter. Even the fictional ones. Other people live and breathe and love and laugh and grieve–and they die, as one day we will die. Literature is the original Global Affairs. It’s taught me, too, that nearly everything is deeper than it seems (the things that are worth thinking much about anyway). In an age where nearly everything can be done as a performance, literature (and the study of Literature) cultivates an inner life. That itself is invaluable!

    • Alumna, Class of 2017
    • Isa Ho
    Why did you choose the Literature major?

    I chose the Literature major because it was the natural next step for me in a trajectory that has its root in my childhood love for reading and writing. With only six Literature majors in the Class of 2017, we not only got to know each other very well, but we also got to establish close working relationships with our professors that might be impossible in other majors or colleges. The Literature major enabled me to dip my toe in a variety of literary traditions through classes such as Dystopian Fiction or Ancient Epic and Gangster Film. It allowed me to plumb the depths of some of my literary obsessions through the Capstone Project. My enthusiasm for literature and writing in general has led directly to the next stage of my career, and will hopefully continue to guide me along my academic and professional journey.

    • Alumna, Class of 2017
    • Carmen Denia
    How does your experience in Literature inform what you’re doing?
    I confess that I underappreciated how much I was learning while I was in college. Now that I’m in a different environment, I can see that I was given so much by my professors and peers. My sub-concentration at Yale Divinity School is titled ‘Religion and Literature’, so the continuity seems pretty clear, but even as I have moved to doing more research in the visual arts and liturgical studies,  I apply the same skills I was taught as a Literature major: placing the piece of art in its socio-historical context, breaking it down into its components, analysing these sections, and respecting that the complete work of art has something more than just the sum of its parts.
    Perhaps the most important thing being a Literature major at Yale-NUS has given me is confidence. Though I came to the major with little preparatory background, our professors were always encouraging. At every stage in my undergraduate career, they encouraged me to pursue my interests, even if I was not the quickest student or sure of where I was heading. It may not seem that special, but when I am faced with a difficult poem, painting, or task today, I trust that I can work through it with enough time, patience, and the right secondary sources! I think that is because my professors and classmates in Literature at Yale-NUS believed in me, and taught me to believe in myself. For that, I am truly indebted and most grateful.
    • Associate Professor
    • Geoffrey Baker
    How did I become a literature professor?

    Why did I decide to pursue a degree in literature? Many years ago, I found myself in a course on contemporary literary theory. In a moment of trying to be a joker, I decided to build my term paper for the course around  Anglo-Saxon warrior poetry and gangsta rap—think Beowulf meets N.W.A. I relied on ideas of linguistic colonialism that were popular with New Historicist and postcolonial critics. Such comparisons across space and time were not new at the time, I later discovered, but they were new to me.

    What had started as a little bit of a prank, however, became a topic that absorbed me, and the final paper elicited from my professor the remark that, whether my argument worked or not, these “important” questions to raise, questions of power and the traces it leaves in languages and cultures. His use of that one word—“important”—altered my entire perception. I had thought literary study had mostly to do with liking to read and talk about books. But the idea that what we do could be “important,” could reverberate outside the classroom, or even affect the world, or train us to critically engage in the world—all of this shocked me into a new sense of the possible significance of literary study.

    Read More