About Us

The Duke English Department has long occupied a vital and distinctive place both in the discipline and in the university, where it has served as one of the defining spaces of thought, conversation, teaching, and inquiry. We have played a crucial role in defining the history, present, and future practices of reading and interpretation and the paradigms of research, pedagogy, and critique common to and distributed across the humanities as a whole at Duke.

Our research and pedagogy encompass the study of English language, the range of representational forms which find expression in manuscripts, novels, poetry, drama, film and other genres and media, and the social and cultural fields within which such expressive practices take form and which they help to shape. Expertise in the department ranges in time, from the earliest Medieval written manuscripts to the most recent 21st century literature, and in universality, across several continents including literature from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and India. We offer a rich curriculum for both undergraduates and graduate students through BA or PhD programs, and a minor in Creative Writing.

Our Major & Minors

Duke's English Department offers a major and minor in English, and a minor in creative writing. Our program is designed to: convey broad historical knowledge of English, American, and other Anglophone literatures, cultivate a sophisticated habit of critically engaging literary and cultural texts, create a shared understanding of major problems, trends, and methods of literary and cultural analysis, and develop your ability to pose questions and organize knowledge in productive and original ways. We encourage students to pursue undergraduate research and graduation with distinction.

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Featured Courses

ENGLISH 390S-1

EMILY DICKINSON Joseph Donahue Online The adultery, betrayal, homoeroticism, tragic death and contested estate would make “The Dickinsons of Amherst,” were it ever a series, a hit, at least on PBS.… read more about Special Topics in a Single American Author »

ENGLISH 269

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIT Instructor: Karen Little Online In this course, we will take a long historical approach to literature, looking to Black American texts of the colonial through antebellum… read more about Classics of American Literature, 1820-1860 »

ENGLISH 390-1

T.S. ELIOT Victor Strandberg Online Regarded in his lifetime as a dominant force in modern poetry (compared by one critic to “the sun and the moon in the firmament”), T. S. Eliot has largely… read more about Special Topics: Single American Author »

Doctoral Program

Known for its innovative and influential approaches to the study of literature, our doctoral program is dynamic and challenging within a collegial atmosphere of intellectual exchange. Students are encouraged to read broadly across English and American literatures including four-nations British, Anglophone and comparative postcolonial, the Black Atlantic, Irish and other diasporas, multilingual North America, and pan-Pacific. Students investigate literary and cultural history as forms of knowledge production and social action; to develop the specific linguistic, philosophical, and historical skills relevant to their chosen field and intervention; and to think and articulate with clarity, subtlety, and imagination.

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