Arts and letters

Arts and letters is a traditional term for the arts and literature considered together. The category defined as “arts and letters” may also include performing arts , visual arts , or liberal arts .


By the late 19th century the term was used to name a few arts-related institutions in the United States . A subscription -based Theater of Arts and Letters opened in New York in 1892, but closed within a year. [1] [2] The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1904.

The term also figured in higher education . For example, by 1889 students at Swarthmore College were released in two categories of study: “Arts and Letters” or “Science and Engineering.” [3] Since 2010, the University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences has included a “sector” (category) called “Arts and Letters.” The college defines the field as “visual arts, literature and music, together with the criticism surrounding them.” [4]


  1. Jump up^ Atherton, Gertrude (March 1893). “The Theater of Arts and Letters” . The Californian . 5 (4): 580-585 . Retrieved 11 April 2012 .
  2. Jump up^ Hatlen, Theodore (May 1963). “The Independent Theater Movement in New York, 1890-1900”. Educational Theater Journal . 15 (2): 136-142. JSTOR .
  3. Jump up^ Twenty-first Annual Catalog of Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa., 1889-90. Philadelphia: Press of Friends’ Book Association.
  4. Jump up^ University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences,The College Curriculum, accessed 17 March 2012.