Liberal Arts Concentrations

Students can pursue a concentration (like a minor) in addition to their studio major. Concentrations are offered by each of the departments in the Division of Liberal Arts: History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC), History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS), and Literary Arts and Studies (LAS). Information, including requirements, on an undergraduate concentration in Literary Arts and Studies can be found below.

Undergraduate Concentration in Literary Arts and Studies

RISD offers a 27-credit undergraduate concentration in Literary Arts and Studies designed for students who wish to complement a studio major with more in-depth studies in literature and writing. The Literary Arts and Studies concentration at RISD, like many undergraduate English programs across the country, is designed to allow students the flexibility to create their own programs of study and expose them to a range of literary genres, periods and theoretical approaches. The Department offers courses in literary history and traditions, critical theory and creative writing, including workshops in poetry and fiction writing and courses in postcolonial literatures and cultures, environmental studies, race and gender, film and performance. The department curriculum accommodates many possible avenues of study from which a concentration can be structured and completed: students may opt to take courses in as many of the areas covered by the department as possible or choose to focus on one particular area of inquiry; they may pursue the development of a particular literary tradition and investigate its relation to other traditions; they may focus on an issue or genre and investigate its relation to contemporary critical theories; they may focus on creative writing (poetry, fiction, new genres); they may also develop their own interdisciplinary course of study.

The undergraduate Literary Arts and Studies concentration can be completed within a 4- or 5-year degree program. All RISD BFA candidates are eligible to add this concentration to their program of study. Interested students should contact the Literary Arts and Studies Concentration Coordinator, Jonathan Highfield (401 454-6574 /, or complete the following LAS Concentration Form. Typically, concentrators meet or communicate with the concentration coordinator once or twice a year to discuss course options and to update their records. As part of the process, LAS concentrators may pre-register for Literary Arts and Studies courses that will be used for the concentration. The concentration coordinator will contact all concentrators with the relevant instructions shortly before the official registration period; this option is offered in the fall and spring semesters only.

Curriculum Requirements for an Undergraduate Concentration in Literary Arts and Studies

(9 courses = 27 credits)

I. Literature Seminar: Design in Words (LAS-E101): 1 course (3 credits)
II. From Literary to Cultural Studies (LAS-E501), Contemporary Critical Theory (LAS-E502), or an approved equivalent: 1 course (3 credits)
III. Seminar in Literature or Creative Writing: 1 course (3 credits)
IV. Literary Arts and Studies electives: 6 courses (18 credits)
Total: 9 courses (27 credits)


All Literary Arts and Studies courses are labeled “LAS.” (Prior to academic year 2013-14, LAS courses were designated ENGL by the Registrar.)

Students who elect the concentration must fulfill all existing Liberal Arts distribution requirements for graduation. (The nine Literary Arts and Studies credits currently required for graduation will count as part of the twenty-seven comprising the concentration.)

Concentrators must study contemporary critical theory so that they are better able to participate in current critical discussions, and they must take at least one seminar course to experience in-depth, focused study of a specific topic, which culminates in a longer written project.

Three credits from relevant HAVC, HPSS, liberal arts elective or studio courses may be counted toward the Literary Arts and Studies electives requirement for the concentration provided that the course is approved by the concentration coordinator as part of a student’s particular program of study.