Learning Goals

In order to develop a deeper sense of English as an academic discipline, students should familiarize themselves with the core learning goals that motivate the teaching of literature. These learning goals animate the basic structure and formal requirements of individual courses and underpin the structure of the major and minor in English. The goals below are applicable to the entire range of departmental offerings and should be understood as working in conjunction with the goals specified for individual courses.

Students who major or minor in English will hone their critical thinking, research, and writing skills.  They will learn the methods and analytical approaches of the humanities, specifically in literary studies.  They will master knowledge of literatures in English, their historical, cultural, and formal dimensions and diversity.  They will gain experience in the classroom and in writing in strategies of interpretation, including an ability to use critical and theoretical terms, concepts, and methods in relation to a variety of textual forms and other media.  They will acquire the ability to engage with the work of other critics and writers, using and citing such sources effectively.  Most importantly, they will demonstrate the ability to write persuasively and precisely, in scholarly and, in some instances, creative forms.

In addition, students will develop a clear sense of the connections between reading, writing, and oral communication to present their ideas.  They will have substantial preparation in the major or minor to be able to develop both basic and advanced research methodologies in order to explore significant research questions with intellectual rigor.

Students of literature will also come to value the importance of diversity in the twenty-first century and will understand the significant contributions that literature and related cultural and artistic forms and practices make to our society as it changes.  Ultimately, students should have the ability to work independently and to conduct independent research.  Students majoring or minoring in literature or creative writing will have gained the tools for analyzing the social, cultural and political issues that shape cultures and communities in particular times and places.

These goals are practical and conceptual.  Accomplishing these goals requires hard work and perseverance. Students who make a serious commitment to the discipline should find, however, that in addition to acquiring valuable concepts and skills they will also develop an appreciation for literature that will continue after their formal education has been completed.  The faculty in the entire department is committed to providing students with a high level of mentorship and support.