Department Mission Statement


I. Purpose of the department

The overall mission of the English Department is to promote literacy--specifically the ability to read, write, and think critically. This mission includes the fostering of such technological literacy as information retrieval, research, and communication. Literate individuals can gather, analyze, and communicate information effectively as well as think creatively and draw independent conclusions--skills that are the cornerstone of a healthy democracy and key to the future of an urban area in an increasingly information-based economy. The Department fosters these goals through scholarship and instruction in all areas of literatures written in English and in the production and reception of a variety of texts, including academic, professional, and creative writing. These goals thread through the Department's wide range of programs and interests: from our contributions to general education, where students are introduced to the skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing; to the undergraduate major and M.A., where the focus includes cultural and literary traditions, as well as skills of analysis, criticism, and written argument; to the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, where we are training the next generation of writing teachers and researchers.

II. Brief description of the department

1.Contributions to General Education in all areas of English, including First Year Composition, the University Writing Center, Intensive English as a Second Language (ESL), Computer Assisted Instruction, Writing Across the Curriculum (WR), and introductory and advanced courses in literature and writing. Most significant, in terms of faculty resources, is the instruction the Department offers to virtually all university undergraduates in First Year Composition.

2.Undergraduate English Major, including courses covering all periods and genres of literatures written in English, as well as offerings in creative, expository, and professional writing, criticism, and linguistics. Goals for the English major are that students will 1) develop skills for analyzing individual texts; 2) develop an understanding of the American and British literary traditions, and those of other literatures in English where possible; 3) relate texts to the social, cultural, and historical contexts in which they were produced; 4) extend, deepen, and refine critical thinking, research and writing skills, particularly the ability to write about literary and other texts; 5) develop awareness of the nuances of language as a system and of specific utterances in their context.

3.M.A. in English provides graduate training in literatures written in English, linguistics, creative writing, and rhetoric and composition. Goals for the M.A. are that students will 1) gain advanced knowledge of the British and American literary traditions; 2) write a thesis or culminating in which they initiate and complete specialized research addressing a significant question in literature or rhetoric and composition, or produce a significant body of creative work.

4.Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition provides graduate training in history and theory of rhetoric, theory and empirical research in composition, an area of British or American literature, linguistics, and the relation of rhetoric and composition to allied fields (e.g. critical theory, cultural studies, cognitive psychology, educational research). Goals for the Ph.D. are that students will 1) gain specialized and current disciplinary knowledge; 2) write a dissertation in which they initiate and complete specialized research that addresses an original and significant question in rhetoric and composition; 3) acquire experience and expertise as writing teachers.

III. Major functions of the department

1.Teaching: To promote critical and technological literacy through general and advanced study in literature, rhetoric and composition, creative writing, ESL, and linguistics, as described above.

2.Scholarship: To conduct research and other forms of creative and scholarly activity in the above noted areas, including historical, theoretical, cultural, empirical, pedagogical, textual, and bibliographical scholarship. These scholarships strengthen all undergraduate and graduate literature and writing programs by ensuring that instruction is informed by the most current and relevant disciplinary knowledge, and by providing, through faculty examples, models for students of higher-level critical processes, including questioning, analysis, and argument. Further, these scholarships are essential to the Ph.D. and its explicit research component.

3.Service: To promote and support literacy, in its widest sense, in the university, the community, and the profession; in particular, to support the community's and state's efforts, such as those instituted through KERA, to improve the quality of writing instruction.

IV. Types of students and other individuals served by the department

1.Undergraduate students 1) fulfilling General Education requirements through introductory and advanced courses offered by the English Department; 2) seeking a major or minor in English; 3) taking courses in interdisciplinary programs such as Humanities, Linguistics, Women's Studies.

2.Graduate students 1) seeking the M.A. in English; 2) seeking the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition; 3) enrolled in the M.A.T. in Secondary Education with a concentration in English; 4) enrolled in other graduate and professional schools or seminaries in the University or the area.

3.International students seeking English proficiency prior to admission to undergraduate and graduate programs.

4.Professionals, both researchers and teachers, in the various fields of English who profit from the scholarship of members of the Department as disseminated through publications, conference presentations, and workshops; through three national journals edited in the Department; through two national conferences sponsored by the Department; and through other activities such as editing, reviewing, consulting, and service in professional organizations.

5.Other professionals in education, including secondary school teachers, who access the Department's scholarly resources through publications, conferences, workshops, consultancies, and training activities.

6.The College and University, through the department's research and administrative work connected with our scholarly mission. Other colleges and universities, through our training and placement of Ph.D. students who, in turn, perform scholarship at these institutions.

7.The community, through our support of arts and humanities, our support of literacy, particularly writing instruction and assessment, and our contributions to community organizations and programs.

V. Careers or subsequent professional programs for which students are prepared

1.B.A. in English: secondary teaching certification (c.33%); graduate education (25%); professional schools (25%); other (17%).

2.M.A. in English: educational settings, either in advanced graduate programs or in teaching (c. 50%); other (e.g. free-lance work, communication and journalism, professional and technical writing consultancies, c. 50%).

3. Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition: professional careers as teachers, researchers and administrators in universities and other institutions of higher learning (c. 95%); professional writers and consultants (c. 5%).