Diversity and Community Engagement

Information about diversity and community engagement in the English Department.

A commitment to acknowledging and examining the rich diversity of cultural expression is central to the Department of English. At the graduate and undergraduate level, we regularly offer courses on African American, Native American, diasporic, and global Anglophone literatures, as well as gender studies, LGBTQ studies, and disability studies. In addition, our survey and specialized courses routinely explore issues of cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic difference, in local and (trans)national contexts.

Following the Diversity and Retention Initiative, launched in 2004, the Department of English has made questions of diversity a key component of our curriculum, not only through Cardinal Core courses fulfilling the Diversity I and II requirements but also through the Composition Program’s first-year writing courses. Instructors are encouraged to draw on their own research interests in their teaching, with course themes including LGBTQ studies, rhetorics of race in medieval literature, community engagement, hip-hop literacy, peace studies, and mindfulness.

Graduate Students and Public Engagement

In the M.A. and Ph.D. programs, many of our award-winning graduate students carry out research that critically examines issues of diversity and social justice, with dissertations on such topics as the Black Liberation Front International, medical discourses on mental disability, single motherhood, refugee communities, and translingualism. This work has been recognized with many awards for our graduate students, including the Gloria Anzaldúa Award and Scholars for the Dream Award from CCCC, the Braden Essay Contest, the M. Celeste Nichols Award, and the Guy Stevenson Award.

Many of our graduate students have engaged in collaborations with communities and institutions in Louisville and in response to local issues on the UofL campus. For example, our graduate students and faculty have initiated collaborative projects with Moore High School in Louisville and the Louisville Literary Arts Society. Other community outreach projects include the Digital Media Academy for sixth-grade girls and Mother Language Day.

University Writing Center and Programming

The UofL Writing Center has built partnerships with two organizations in Louisville, working closely with the Western Branch Public Library and Family Scholar House, a nonprofit serving single parents pursuing higher education at local colleges. At both sites, UofL tutors provide writing tutoring and writing workshops on various topics. The Writing Center also organizes a regular LGBTQ Writing Group, an annual celebration of United Nations Mother Language Day, and faculty roundtables on issues of diversity in writing assignments. In 2018 their work was recognized with the Community Service Award from the College of Arts & Sciences.

The Department of English frequently organizes workshops and speaker events, adding to a programming attentive to issues of diversity and social justice. Continuing this commitment, members of the department frequently come together for our Graduate/Faculty Forum on Sustainability, Equity, and Inclusivity.