Mission and Learning Goals
The Department of English offers traditional and innovative courses to meet the needs of both liberal arts and pre-professional students. We prepare majors for further study of literature and for a wide range of careers. We also work closely with the Education Department to help English majors with secondary education minors meet state requirements for public school teachers. Department members support the Common Curriculum by also teaching courses such as First Year Seminar, Ethics Seminar, and Humanities courses.
What we teach
The English Department teaches students to cultivate the abilities to:
- Read thoughtfully and perceptively
- Listen carefully
- Analyze critically
- Express their ideas logically, clearly, and precisely
The English curriculum emphasizes the variety of theoretical and critical approaches to literature and highlights contemporary debates about the matter and method for study of writing and literature in English. Through exposure to theoretical and critical debate, students learn various ways of interpreting and analyzing literature.
Students will demonstrate knowledge of the chief genres of literature--poetry, drama, fiction, and the essay--and trace the basic history and development of the English language and of the British and American literary traditions. Required and elective courses also include excellent writers who, by reason of race, class, and gender, have been excluded from the mainstream of British and American literary study; and these courses also examine the circumstances and forces that relegated such writers to the margins of British and American literary traditions.
In addition to helping students come to know the richness of these traditions, the department offers courses which invite students to appreciate the richness of other literary traditions. The department encourages students to participate in the colleges' education abroad programs or to pursue independent studies abroad. Courses through these programs can be used towards an English major or minor.
Through the study of literature in English, students gain insight into experiences, thoughts, and feelings different from their own, and they come to perceive the likeness among people as well as differences determined by such circumstances as gender, race, and class. These insights foster cooperation and community, both in the classroom and in the larger world. Through analytical and creative writing, students practice a variety of literary forms and develop their own talent. Through reading, writing, and discussion, students discover the values which inform literary works and the theories which shape their interpretation; they also come to a clearer and deeper awareness of their own values, and so to a fuller recognition of individual moral agency and the discovery of a stronger individual voice.
The English Department faculty engages in scholarly and creative work that is essential to our liveliness and strength as teachers. We contribute to the discipline by publishing books and articles and by presenting papers formally and informally. We exemplify collaboration by team-teaching and by involvement in each other's scholarship. Since the disciplines of British and American literary study have changed radically in recent years, the faculty have committed themselves to ongoing theoretical study, to re-examination of texts, and to exploration of new pedagogies. We keep up with the emergence of new authors, both in our individual research and in scholarship that supports teaching. To continue to meet the needs of students and reflect changes in the English disciplines, the department is committed to ongoing assessment and evaluation of its curriculum, its pedagogies, and its support of the Common Curriculum.