Spring ’22, “Bob Dylan” class field trip
Spring ’22, “Bob Dylan” Class Field Trip
Photograph of Duke English class of 2022 graduates
Duke English
Class of 2022
"Plays That Change the World" Class on Chapel Steps
Fall ’21, “Plays that Change the World” Class

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


What is power? Must violence create and maintain it, or can culture alone do some of that work? We will explore how cultural formations have understood and even shaped the relationship between power… read more about Transformative Ideas: Power, Theater, and Politics »


All of us routinely make use of a whole range of moral categories in our everyday lives. But do we really have a clear conception of, say, friendship, justice, or sin? If pressed, can we tell the… read more about Special Topics in Language and Literature »


ENG 319S / ETHICS 320S – Narrative & Moral Crisis, Prof Thomas Pfau A course exploring four concepts at play wherever a moral crisis is explored in narrative form: Justice; Suffering; Sin; and… read more about Narrative and Moral Crisis »

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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