2003 English Department External Review Self-Study

Part 2: BACHELOR OF ARTS IN ENGLISH

Bachelor of Arts: Program Quality

1. Quality of the Program: Educational Outcomes:
Department Assessment Goals for the Bachelor of Arts
Students who choose a Bachelor of Arts major in English can expect our department to teach and assess the following:

  1. Ability to perform as a reader and writer to analyze, synthesize, and interpret texts through sensitivity to vocabulary and language, tone, imagery, point of view, and socio-historical context.
  2. Ability to frame an effective written response, argument, or exposition that is appropriate for a particular purpose, audience, situation, and authorial role.
  3. Familiarity with a broad range of the literature in English in terms of its integrating traditions and its diversity as appropriate to each major program.
  4. Ability to recognize and work with technique and form of a work in relation to its genre, and to see works within a genre tradition.
  5. Critical perspective and methods: the ability to respond with understanding to works that embody behaviors, values, and perspectives that are unfamiliar and familiar to the student as reader and writer.
  6. Awareness of the disciplinary frameworks, terminology, and theoretical and critical issues in English studies.

These department goals are demonstrably being met, and have been assessed routinely since the creation of gateway and capstone courses during semester conversion. Assessment and quality control of goals takes place each term primarily in ENGL 490, although 300 has frequently been used for assessment purposes as well (Supplementary Materials). Assessment indicates that graduates have acquired important skills in analysis, problem-solving, and writing appropriate for serving a society in which social participation requires skills in interpreting the media forms and discourse protocols through which such participation can be effective.

These goals accord with the directions for the profession that have emerged nationwide. The following statement has been quoted and partially adapted out of the Spring 2002 ADE Bulletin:

In the community created by English department faculty, study includes but goes beyond learning to read with understanding and appreciation the literary works of many and diverse genres, periods, and authors. It also means learning how to observe what readers do when they read and what writers do when they write. Interpretation and representation are core ideas we seek to convey to students.

Study in our programs invites students to see in historical context what readers and writers do. Introducing students to history--giving time a texture, dimension and depth measurable in centuries rather than days or years--continues to be a high priority for members of the field. Even as we struggle to deal with the contemporary proliferation of literary production and its defiance of conventional national or geographic borders, we remain committed to preserving the literary past as a resource through which students can grasp what Gabrielle Spiegel describes as "men and women struggling with the contingencies and complexities of their lives in terms of the fates that history deals out to them and transforming the worlds they inherit and pass on to future generations." [1]

We seek to cultivate students' abilities to enter both feelingly and mindfully into the experiences of perception and thought that literary works uniquely make possible. Many students have limited if any exposure to literature and language as a medium of thought, and reading to memorize information often dominates their educational experience. The English department remains one of the few places where students read real books rather than textbooks.

Our programs commit a large share of their resources, and faculty members devote much of their time and effort, to developing students' writing abilities. We offer students ways to write not only in the academy but in the world at large. We help them develop the writing skills they need to complete college and to go on to succeed in a variety of work settings, whether legal, business, scientific, technical, or academic.

Study in English has been important in students' moral education. The study of literature has offered opportunities for exploration of identity, of values, of manners and morals, whether these be conventionally or unconventionally defined.

Study in English conveys positive knowledge. When someone studies literary history, literary forms, literary theory, and the wide variety of vocabularies and practices we use to consider them, they really are acquiring knowledge available nowhere else in the university. Whatever our disagreements and controversies, it is important to remember that studying them involves knowledge, even if it also involves many unknowns and uncertainties and little if anything that the community as a whole would approve as the indisputable truth.

Study in English contributes to students' aesthetic education. We teach students how to have the experiences that literary and cultural works make possible for readers who know how to read them in the ways that produce these experiences. [2]

English Department B.A. programs, as currently designed, fulfill the vision set forth by J. Paul Hunter in his important 1993 presidential address to the South Atlantic MLA, "The Future of the Past": the department has never in ten tight-budget years lost sight of its mission of meeting students where they are in the present, sustaining requirements that bring students to engage the fullest confluence of literary traditions carrying into the future, from the earliest literary works to works that cross cultures and expand the inclusiveness of students' understanding (4).

2. Evolution of the program (B.A.): Overview of new program design

See the description of semester conversion under Department of English: Program Quality for an overview.

Explanation of Program Redesign

  1. General English Major (40 credits minimum)

    In order to represent English Studies to students most fundamentally, planners of the new program considered that "coverage" of the whole field has shifted in its nature and has professionalized. An education in the field serves students best by teaching frameworks of interpretation through which to approach the textual world so expansively available to students in the present era. The interpretive frameworks chosen for emphasis include methods of imagining the historical and cultural contexts into which literary works are integrated, of understanding the world of a single author's point of view, of applying theoretical systems such as linguistics and critical theory, and of analyzing works in literary terms: the genre forms that mediate perception and significance, poetics, aesthetics.
  2. Literature Major (45 cr.)

    This curriculum guides students interested in attending graduate school to prepare themselves for advanced literary and cultural studies in English by demonstrating extensive coverage of literary history from antiquity to the present day, and by familiarizing themselves with the skills in linguistics and critical theory that they will need in order to participate effectively in the profession. Enrollment has grown from a handful in 1998 to 23 as of 2002.
  3. Literature and Writing Major (39)

    The Literature and Writing emphasis allows students to explore interrelationships between literary studies and expository and creative writing theory and technique. While the Literature and Rhetorical and Applied Writing emphases provide specialized focus, the Literature and Writing emphasis provides balance by requiring guided choices of four writing and four literature courses. The emphasis has grown from seven majors in 1999 to 29 in 2002, demonstrating that students with an interest in studying both literature and the theory and practice of writing have found a home here.
  4. Creative Writing Major (36 cr.)

    Students often express surprise that the Creative Writing Minor requires more creative writing courses than the Creative Writing Major itself. Assessment of graduating seniors shows, however, that many recognize the value of engaging the context of literary precedent, and of finding one's own place and voice in relation to the achievements of others. One senior wrote his final term paper in defense of the current design for the major, in order to preempt any thought of changing it. (See also B.A. Assessment )
  5. Linguistics Major (35 cr.)

    This major predominantly serves students as a vehicle for gaining an ESL license. These undergraduates take the BS minor in ESL and the Secondary Education Sequence, and the Linguistics BA provides a major with high overlap with the BS minor in ESL, making it possible to complete the program in under 128 credits.

    For the few students who do take the major for its own sake, the program is very much a Linguistics-within-English major. Given the proper resources, this program would have the potential to professionalize students for greater specialization in the field of linguistics, since the 7 tenure-line faculty able to teach linguistics (Davis, Kim, Koffi, Robinson, Ross, Rundquist, Teutsch-Dwyer) represent coverage of the fields of sociolinguistics, applied and theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, and philology, and could provide a more complete array of professionalizing courses. For the present, the need to meet the demand for ESL teachers nationwide and in Minnesota is predominant.

    [See Bachelor of Science: Teaching of English as a Second Language for a full report]
  6. Rhetorical and Applied Writing Major (36 cr.)

    The Rhetorical and Applied Writing major and minor are designed to prepare students for writing in a variety of situations: as technical writers, editors, or nonfiction writers-in business, industry, government, or at home. (See Rhetorical and Applied Writing program self-study, below, for full account)

    Minor programs - Students seek minors in English in large numbers in order to complement their primary subjects, whether business, communication studies, history, or information media. The General English Minor signals to future employers the students' enhanced communication skills in writing and cultural literacy and their acquaintance with a humanistic knowledge base. The enormously popular Creative Writing Minor offers students an opportunity to develop a strong, expressive voice of their own, and the Applied Writing Minor offers students a solid collection of writing courses topped off with an additional applied course, whether an internship, Computers and English, a practicum in teaching writing, or a specialized course in writing for the professions.

Department as Consortium

In order to meet students' needs, English Department faculty also group themselves by field of study and meet formally and informally in order to plan the department's future directions and carry out ongoing work of advising and administrative business. The department functions as a consortium of current disciplinary categories: English Education, ESL, Creative Writing, Rhetoric and Composition, Literature. Most faculty consider themselves members of more than one field, and planning functions constantly overlap. Since the department moved away more than a decade ago from a two-tiered system in which composition teaching was relegated entirely to lower-ranking, untenured, or temporary faculty, to the current aim of assigning composition instruction to all faculty as 1/3 of normal teaching "load" (except in the case of reassignment duties), faculty do hold a common stake in the teaching of writing. Assessment data suggest that the SCSU English Department's explicit emphasis on turning its students into strong writers of argument and analysis is borne out in practice.

Report from the Creative Writing Program
By Bill Meissner, Creative Writing Director

  1. Creative Writing Program Quality
    The SCSU creative program has more than doubled in the past five years with the addition of the English major/creative writing emphasis. The SCSU web page lists 70 creative writing minors-numbers which far exceed any other minor focus within the department-and 53 creative writing majors. The program has provided quality courses for students in the creative writing minor and the English major, creative writing emphasis. The offerings include beginning level courses in fiction writing, poetry, creative non-fiction, and play writing. Advanced level courses can be taken in each genre. Elective courses include English 445/545, the summer Mississippi River Creative Writing Workshop, which has been averaging over 40 students per class, and a new practicum-style course for literary magazine editing and specialized projects, English 447. Our courses have been in high demand during the past five years, and the courses are always fully enrolled (many of them with waiting lists).

    The creative writing faculty/staff continues to publish work in their respective creative fields, including Caesarea Abartis' forthcoming book of short stories, Nice Girls and Other Stories . See vitas for Abartis, Crow, Klepetar, Meissner, and Ross. Adjunct creative writing faculty member Shannon Olson has published a best-selling novel, Welcome to My Planet, Where English is Sometimes Spoken (Viking Publishers). Jack Wang, a fixed-term faculty member from 1998-2002, won a Central Minnesota Arts Board fellowship for sections from his novel-in-progress.
  2. Creative Writing: Program Need
    Due to retirements and reassignments during the past years, this fast-growing program has not been given the teaching resources it has required. Temporary faculty (and sometimes less qualified/published creative writing instructors) have taught creative writing classes due to shortages in staff. The play writing course is currently being taught through a continuing education program by a member of the theater department.

    Using temporary faculty has its limitations since they do not assist with advising major/minor students or creative writing committee work.

    In addition, despite the support of the Department of English Chairperson, the Director of Creative Writing's reassigned time has been denied the past three years (a 1/9 reassigned time was granted under the quarter system). As a result, the director has had less time for activities, visiting writers, and advising. This lack of administrative support has been a serious and ongoing problem for the director and the program in general. The administration has chosen to support other directors of programs within the English department, but not the Creative Writing Director.

    During the past two semesters, fewer beginning-level creative writing classes have been offered. This reduction in offerings has created over-subscriptions and stress on the enrollment ceilings of the sections which are offered.

    Another problem was the last-minute searches to hire adjuncts to fill fiction/nonfiction/advanced fiction classes. This additional administrative duty of researching and contacting qualified adjuncts became the responsibility of the Director of Creative Writing.
  3. Creative Writing: Contribution of the Program
    The program has contributed significantly to student development through the professional writers who have visited campus to present readings and student/faculty workshops. During the past 5 years, the Director of Creative Writing was awarded four grants from the Cultural Diversity Committee in order to bring multicultural writers to campus, including American Indian authors Heid Erdrich, Diane Glancy, and Mark Turcotte and Black American novelist Alexs Pate, author of the Amistad novel which was the basis for Steven Spielberg's screenplay. Another grant supported nationally-acclaimed multicultural poet Naomi Shihab Nye. A Summer Session Special Project Grant supported the visit of Pamela Hill Nettleton, editor of Minnesota Monthly. Other nationally known visiting writers during the past five years include: novelist Rick Bass, novelist Mick Cochrane, poet Robert Bly, novelist/poet Jack Driscoll, novelist Jonis Agee, fiction writer Al Davis, and poets Michael Dennis Browne, Margaret Hasse, and John Minczeski.

    Harvest , the SCSU literary/arts magazine, continues to be an excellent vehicle for student writings, photography, and artwork. Other students have been published in the recently-resurrected Kaliedoscope, a multicultural journal.

    Harvest holds student readings/events each year.

    Current and former students have met had success in publishing and editing, including:
    1. poetry book publication by David Feela
    2. publication of poems by: Anna Martignacco (several poems in literary journals), Jill Richter, Laura Martin-Volk, Kelli Hallsten, Chuck Thielman, and Sara Wainscott. Student Val Snobeck is currently editing and producing a local literary journal, No Cause, and several SCSU students' writings are included in the summer, 2002 issue.
    3. 1998 poetry book (and Ashland Poetry Prize) to former student Claire Rossini ( Winter Morning With Crow).
    4. former student Deborah Quaal has won a Loft-McKnight Fellowship for fiction and her work has appeared in Minnesota Monthly.

    Donna Longnecker won a 1998 Individual Artist Fellowship form Chautauqua County, New York Arts Fund and a Western N.Y. Writer in Residence Award.

    Eric Rhinerson (1998) established and edited The Burning Cloud Quarterly , a regional literary magazine. He's had 17 poems published in a variety of journals since 1996.

    Mick Hatten's poem was selected for What Have You Lost, an anthology edited by Naomi Nye and published in 1999 by William Morrow Publishers.

    The Missing Word-a community writer's group made up of former students-met for several years at various locations around St. Cloud .

    In addition, several students have been accepted in MFA/Creative Writing programs.
  4. Creative Writing: Future Directions
    As of fall, 2003, we will be hiring a full-time, tenure-track position in fiction/nonfiction, which will strengthen our program. We're not certain yet if we'll be able to hire a specialist with significant publication in both genres, however.

    The creative writing committee will, in the future, study the possibility of incorporating screen writing in the curriculum.

    A future hire with a specialty/publications in beginning and advanced nonfiction writing a may be necessary in the years to come.

    A budget for annual visiting writers would be welcomed. This would allow us to hire visiting writers without going through the process of applying for grants, which are both time-consuming and unpredictable in their outcome.

    The creative writing program is in the process of changing some of its courses from 3 credit to 4 credit classes, and this will change the curriculum and credit requirements of the creative writing minor and the English major-creative writing emphasis.

Report from the Literary Studies Program
By Judy Dorn

  1. Literary Studies: Program Quality
    Instead of literature, the department now can be said to teach "literatures"--such is the recognition of a common mission to bring about students' capacity to assimilate a broad range of textual traditions, from the historical pasts of the Americas in British, indigenous, and world literatures, to the many modes of literary art full of meaning to students in the present. The department brings students to become aware of their own making of meaning and to participate socially with that crucial awareness of their situation in relation to traditions.

    It is striking to notice the dedication of literary faculty to teaching writing through teaching literature. An informal survey of faculty teaching literature courses, receiving 15 responses, reveals that only two instructors assign a single paper in a literature course. Literature courses assign, at maximum, 15 papers in a course, but most in the 3-5 paper range, to a total of about 15 pages per course. In addition, instructors, with almost no exceptions, report requiring extensive informal writing, whether journals, first drafts, online debates, critiques, or reading responses, so that English majors are highly likely to encounter literature courses that would qualify as writing-intensive by national standards.
  2. Literary Studies: Program Need
    In an important regional keynote address to the profession, J. Paul Hunter has stated clearly the importance of textual study that places the imaginations of students in cultural and historical contexts:

    [N]o person and no culture really understands itself unless it knows its own past, where it has come from, how habits have been formed, why patterns have developed, how past decisions may condition or even dictate future ones quite apart from any conscious and rational decisions we may wish to make.. [W]e all have much to learn about ourselves and others by attending carefully to what has already happened in the world, a world that includes texts. I take it that much of the justification in teaching texts at all is to know what others have done so that we can sort and interpret, imitate or evade repetition, study the conflicts of customs and what they come to, discover the outcomes of patterns of behavior and decision-making and know what others, as well as we ourselves, have been like.. Not all nations in all places have understood the importance of knowing history, and they have paid.in not taking advantage of the present. (4)

    Locally, one graduating senior reflected, "More than any others, Literature courses tend to develop the much-touted 'critical thinking skills' expected of someone with a college degree. At St Cloud State, I find this to be represented by the writing assignments in the literature courses, as much as, or more than, the actual literature being discussed" (Program Reflections, Supplementary Materials).

    Another, majoring in Literature, agreed: "I can say with confidence that my time at St. Cloud State has been well spent. . I am a much different person now than I was when I began studying literature. I have read, analyzed, understood, and criticized the thoughts and philosophies of a wide range of authors, which has contributed greatly to my view of myself, the people around me, and my environment" (Program Reflections).

    The Minnesota Board of Teaching Subject Matter Standard for teachers of Communication Arts and Literature requires (B.(6) knowledge, skills, and ability to teach literature including: (a) a repertoire of literary texts, including fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works, and works written for preadolescents and adolescents by a diversity of authors.

    Literature courses make such a repertoire possible.
  3. Literary Studies: Specific Program Contributions
    Literature faculty serve the department adroitly, all called upon to extend their teaching range beyond their primary fields of research to cover composition (expected to be 1/3 of teaching assignment), general education courses, Honors courses, and a variety of fields within the major, whether covering for colleagues on leave or responding to department need for special topics. The faculty members who teach literary studies, a group that includes a number of faculty whose primary assignments involve rhetoric and linguistics, commonly teach as many as 9 distinctly different courses on a regular, rotating basis. Many department faculty have in consequence developed, on their own time, multiple areas of expertise in addition to their primary fields of study.
  4. Literary Studies: Future Directions
    Resource pressure on the English Department as a whole, which constantly meets ongoing demands to serve the entire university community, has made it incumbent upon the Department to argue strenuously to maintain positions for faculty trained in literary studies. The department was successful in hiring a medievalist to fill an English Literature Before 1500 position that had remained unadvertised for several years. Faculty currently stretch themselves thinly to cover the range of period and topics courses normal to English programs nationwide. There is strong department support for maintaining a roster of faculty able to teach courses fully representative of the profession's designated periods and fields of literary study. Nevertheless, faculty with tenure-line positions in literary fields now number only 12, or about 1/3 of the department. Hiring of fixed-term faculty with doctorates in literature and culture to teach first-year writing does provide important synergy across the department's fields and infuses the department with current thinking, but cannot provide the long-term programmatic support necessary to forward academic projects important to student development.

    The department has already begun collaborating with other departments in the College of Fine Arts and Humanities, such as Foreign Languages and Theater, in order to cover the teaching of academic fields. More exploration of possible cross-hiring with, especially, Theater and Film Studies needs to take place.

    Future hiring needs : Modern British literature (to replace colleague hired away to Purdue last year); Drama.

    The Department could consider heeding one admonition voiced in the 2002 ADE Bulletin: The recognition that the 20 th century is fast becoming a period of the sort the 19 th century represented to our generation ought to bring departments to take stock of their priorities; what does it mean to "represent" a period encompassing the High Moderns, post-World War II, the postcolonial period, the 21 st century? (Laurence 16-17).

    There is room for individual faculty to take initiative and provide leadership to promote literary studies in the department. The major problem remains lack of time, especially for writing grant applications to bring speakers to campus and for creating other programming, to say nothing of researching and publishing. The proposed new Humanities major does present an opportunity to tap into resources. The directorship of that program would carry with it fundraising potential, and English faculty who serve as directors would perhaps find opportunities to use Humanities programming to benefit literary studies as well.

    Faculty could also expand their use of the Internship opportunity offered within the graduate program to involve graduate students in teaching their literature courses and reading student papers.

Report from the Rhetorical and Applied Writing Program
By Donna Gorrell

The Rhetorical and Applied Writing major and minor are designed to prepare students for writing in a variety of situations: as technical writers, editors, or nonfiction writers-in business, industry, government, or at home. We expect this major to work most effectively when paired with another major or minor, such as speech communication, mass communication, computer science, or a program in business.

Courses. The program has seven courses and an internship that focus specifically on rhetorical and applied writing. The first five are required of all majors.

331 Advanced Expository Writing. Attention is given to reading and writing a variety of expository styles for the purpose of expanding students' comprehension of the possibilities available to them.

332 Writing in the Professions. Students study and practice the writing of business, industry, and government, including but not limited to proposals, resumes, technical reports, and letters and memos. The intent is to increase awareness of the exigences and constraints of a professional writing style.

333 Advanced Rhetorical Writing. The focus is on the rhetoric of writing, including classical and contemporary principles. The course provides practice in rhetorical analysis to give students the ability to read critically the writing of others and themselves.

431 The Rhetoric of Style. Attention focuses on the study of style in principle and practice for the purpose that students may improve their own writing style.

433 Theories of Rhetoric and Writing. This course differs from 333 in that it concentrates on the history and theory of rhetoric at a higher level. Writing assignments reflect understanding of theories and applications.

403 Computers in English. Students acquire experience in the varieties and capabilities of electronic communication.

432 Specialized Professional Writing. Study and practice goes beyond the introduction to professional writing in 332. The course may focus on selected areas.

497 Internship. As an elective, students can take 3-4 credits as the equivalent of one course or 7-8 credits for two courses by working in a department approved and directed field experience.

  1. Rhetorical and Applied Writing: Program Quality.
    The quality of the program is attested to by the commitment of the department to staff it with a number of highly qualified faculty. Of the 31 faculty on regular lines, 13 have some educational background in the teaching of rhetoric and writing. Eight have terminal degrees in rhetoric, two more have written composition as part of their English education preparation, and one more has postdoctoral study in rhetoric. These faculty likewise are active in producing scholarly work in terms of publication in nationally recognized journals, presentations at national conferences, reviews of published works in rhetoric, and publication of textbooks with major publishers. This degree of commitment is rarely found in masters-granting institutions.

    Quality is also noted in responses from our students. Reflecting on the quality of their coursework, students in English 490 Senior Seminar comment that the Rhetorical and Applied Writing program has affected their writing and understanding of writing in positive ways and prepared them for work as writers. "An invaluable learning experience," one says; "I have grown as a writer." Students agree that their writing has improved. Regarding their own writing, some cite the "challenge to [their] writing abilities" and the need "to confront both positive and negative components of [their] writing." Says another, "I am able to see rhetoric being used in different types of writing, and I am able to use rhetoric myself, in my own writing. It may be extremely useful knowledge if I continue on with a career in business writing or in writing/marketing." Another student cites the improvement in computer skills, in particular the creation of a web document.
  2. Rhetorical and Applied Writing: Program Need/ Contributions.
    The fact that this major/minor program is serving our students by preparing them for their present and future needs as writers attests to a need for its continuation. More than that, however, the program serves the needs of students enrolled in other English programs-most notably English Education-and in other departments and programs in the university. In Fall 2002 we are offering 10 sections of 331, 332, and 333. All the courses have full enrollment, or roughly 21 students per section. Of these approximately 210 enrollees, only 35 are English majors. One or another of these courses is required for several programs outside the English department, among them Teacher Development, Mass Communications, Aviation, and Communication Studies.

    Service courses for departments across campus . We are gratified to see that other programs recognize the quality of our courses for improving the writing of their students; however, our resources are always strained in trying to meet the need. In Spring 2003 we will undoubtedly have another 10 sections of the 330-level writing courses, as we do most semesters, and again we will be serving needs of students other than those we are most directly committed to. With the university moving to a required upper-division writing requirement, we are hopeful that the future will bring stronger support for courses we offer.
  3. Rhetorical and Applied Writing: Future directions.
    The heart of the Rhetorical and Applied Writing program will continue to be 331, 332, and 333, and we will continue to offer multiple sections of each. With leaves, retirements, and some of our faculty working in other institutional areas, we need to consider hiring at least one new person in rhetoric in order to meet these needs in addition to covering our other courses-403, 431, 432, 433, and the internship.

    We will also consider modifying or adding course offerings to the major/minor. One proposal is to increase the number of credits in some of the courses from three to four. A few faculty have, on an experimental basis, added an optional credit for additional reading. This add-on seemed to improve students' understanding of the material covered in the course. With respect to additional course offerings, another course in the area of technical writing and a composition theory course are viable options.

    We want to increase the number of students in this major by promoting its quality and practical applications. The present number of twelve does not fairly represent our abilities to serve students.

Bachelor of Arts: Program Need

Appropriateness and Contribution of the Program

Program Need, Appropriateness and Contribution, and Future Directions for the Bachelor of Arts in English are one and the same with those of the Department as a whole, because all department faculty teach courses that belong in the B.A., and because the B.A. includes all of the subject areas of English: linguistics, creative writing, literature and literary history, rhetoric and writing.

Several points are worth reinforcing here, however:

  1. Numerous career guides for English majors point out that the training accompanying this degree creates job candidates who are highly adaptable and poised for career success on account of their advanced problem-solving, interpretive, critical thinking, and communication skills. (Works Cited)
  2. Confirmation of the value of English studies as a discipline has come from metadisciplinary research in the field of Education. The book Learning to Think , which compiles instructional research conducted in 7 disciplines, observes the particular challenges of acquiring disciplinary training in English: "we must know not just what the words we read and write mean but determine their status as forces that enter our minds" (Donald 242, adapting Donoghue).
    Students need to be helped to find patterns, to look for evidence within complexity from which to draw conclusions, and at the same time to examine their assumptions or preconceptions and broaden their approach to a text; teaching this is labor-intensive (Donald 269).
    "In English literature courses, the process of inquiry extends from identifying a context to judging the validity of an interpretation. The processes needed to succeed in this discipline go beyond hermeneutics and critical thinking to a fuller and more detailed set of thinking processes" (Donald 269).
  • These practices of applying diverse models and testing their validity place educational emphasis on learning the skills of argument (Donald 254).

    Students observe considerable coherence and mutual reinforcement and complementarity in coursework taken across the department. (Online Assessment Project)

Bachelor of Arts: Future Directions

Faculty need to each take a propitious moment in every class and simply tell the students explicitly what the value there is in their English education and of a liberal arts education. Students may otherwise lack the concepts and language for evaluating public policy decisions that affect the future education of their own children.

The B.A. English degree will always remain relevant, no matter the changes in society, as long as the faculty as a whole maintain the conversation about the life of writing and the mind in the present. Departments such as this one need to make use of small ways of creating occasions for such conversations to take place, whether through curricular discussion or occasional social events, or even department colloquia, should those be increased.

Increased budget would restore the time for scholarly creativity and for collaboration among faculty that would enhance students' sense of the possibilities open for lives of both thought and action.

[1] "History, Historicism, and the Social Logic of the Text in the Middle Ages." Speculum 65 (1990): 59-86.

[2] Adapted from David Laurence, "The Latest Forecast" with adaptations from John Guillory, ADE Bulletin 131 (Spring 2002): 18-19.

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