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The English Department teaches classes in literature and in writing; both types of courses aim to spark curiousity and pleasure while improving students’ skills as readers, writers and learners.
English classes are designed for students who wish to become sophisticated readers, attentive to the way imaginative works are made and how those works interact with the lives of human beings. These courses introduce students to influential and beautiful literary works written in English from around the world. Students read literature from various canons and the Department strives to include works from voices that have been silenced throughout history as well as those that have been central to literary scholarship for centuries.
Every literary analysis in an English class begins with careful attention to the text under consideration. Students become skilled at examining the rhetorical techniques that help create the emotions and ideas of the text. Students also learn to recognize the intertextual nature of literature — that is, the way that all writing is affected by other writings. Students work with a variety of methods with which to approach and analyze literary works, drawing on different literary and cultural theories. Courses introduce a variety of contexts for literary study, and students learn to employ a variety of critical approaches and research strategies.
The research interests of the professors in the English Department include ecology and literature, Puerto Rican literature, alternative methods of publication, medieval popular literature, Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, Shakespeare and famine, Indian literature, and the relationships among literary markets and literary production. Professors work on these research areas with students and continue to develop new areas of interest while also helping students to develop their own. Teachers seek maximum student participation using diverse teaching techniques. The goal is a pedagogy that helps students to speak with integrity and listen with respect.
Dan McCoy '00 finds himself at the top of his profession as a staff writer for “The Daily Show,” hosted by Jon Stewart. It is the first time he has held a full-time job in comedy. But this is not as improbable as it sounds.
When Associate Professor of English Joann Quiñones was a high school kid in New Jersey, she didn’t think she could afford to go to college. Neither of her parents had followed the traditional route to a bachelor’s degree.