Students in a literature class. A window to worlds

Reading literature, whether from your own backyard or from the farthest reaches of the planet, connects you to both the world beyond and the world within your own being. We encourage avid readers to become avid writers. Like reading, writing expands your horizons, opens your mind, provides enormous pleasure, and requires hard, careful work. Learn to read and write at entirely new levels as you plumb formal writing’s depths and layers. Not only are reading and writing richly rewarding in themselves, they develop core academic and life skills. Strong writers, readers, and thinkers are crucial to every organization and profession.

Diverse offerings and mentors 

Courses cover the world in space and time with centuries of poetry and fiction, essays and letters. Writing classes include basic to advanced offerings such as Advanced Composition, Journalism, and Technical WritingCreative Writing, Starting Your Novel, Poetry and the American Environment, and Autobiography are regular components of the curriculum. Many courses, like Nature of Narrative, help students work in and understand story forms such as documentary video, ethnography, and visual narrative.

Creativity at many levels

Students in literature classes often have the option of writing poetry in response to poetry, or fiction in response to fiction. You can try to write in an author’s style or seek to create your own. We encourage you to work in tutorials and independent studies to focus on particular authors, genres, or projects. Books of poetry and novels—or a portfolio of investigative journalistic pieces—are typical final projects.


  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: ‘Areas of Study’ aren’t the only way to think about courses.  Browse and explore <a href="">here</a>.</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: Areas of Study at COA aren’t majors or formal concentrations. All COA students design their own <a href="/academics/human-ecology-degree/">major in human ecology</a> and are free to chart their own path. Your major is defined by you, not us.</p></div>