The Common Curriculum


Works of literary imagination play a vital role in the Liberal Arts.

Writers engage the mind and the heart in search of answers to some of life’s toughest questions. Who am I, and what shaped me? How should I live my life? What gives life meaning? What is love? What is justice? What is evil? What is wrong with society -- and can it be changed? Like painting, photography, sculpture, music, dance, and philosophy, literature confronts and expresses the most fundamental quandary of all: what it means to be human.

At Union, you will study the way authors have wrestled with the human condition along a wide historical and cultural spectrum, from Chaucer and Lope de Vega to W.E.B. DuBois and Marguerite Duras, from Maxine Hong Kingston and Léopold Senghor to Gogol and Tey Diana Rebolledo. Literature classes taught in the departments of English, Modern Languages and Literatures, and Classics explore the expressions of our world’s many cultures and authors’ responses to global challenges, from “Irish Literature and Sexual Identity” and “West African Oral Literature” to “Poetry, Performance, Protest & Power” and “The Vampire as Other East European and American Culture.” Creative writing workshops in poetry, fiction and screenwriting offer you the opportunity to make your own claims about what it means to be human. Students who have developed strong language skills or are a native speaker of another language will find many opportunities to read, debate, and stake claims in languages other than English.

As you argue with your peers and professors, you sharpen your analytical eye. As you write about literary texts, you hone your argumentative and writing skills. And time and again, as you navigate an author’s literary world, you develop crucial qualities you need to confront the human condition for yourself: critical thinking and compassion.