Welcome to the Department of English. We teach a special kind of knowledge here. If the philosopher traffics in ideas, the historian in facts, the mathematician in numbers, it is the critic’s business to understand the world through words. Our concentrators read widely in the literatures written in English, over its long history and across its global reach. They test the boundaries of the category of literature itself, in relation to other media and to the broader category of culture. Through the lens of language, they get to consider the great questions: power, beauty, identity, love.
Diversity is among our strengths. Here you can find courses on Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Jacques Derrida, and Emily Dickinson; on Black satire and best sellers and American cinema. Our faculty are some of the best teachers in the university, great lecturers and seminar leaders and dedicated supervisors of independent work. Special tracks within the major, from Arts and Media to Criticism and Theory to Drama and Performance Studies, allow for a wide range of interdisciplinary study. Concentrators learn to write boldly, argue forcefully, and think freely, and they graduate prepared for careers as various as medicine, law, and journalism. They also carry with them a personal canon of great writing in English, books they will read and reread over a lifetime.
This site will offer you an overview of our program, but the best introduction is to take a class with us, or drop by office hours, or just pick up one of the books on our syllabi. We hope to see you in the halls of McCosh.
Tamsen Wolff, Director of Undergraduate Studies