The Literature and Writing Studies Department is a scholarly community of students and faculty committed to innovative teaching and learning. Critical reading, writing, and thinking occur in and serve a range of communities: local, regional, global, digital, and historical. Therefore, we value the following principles:
Cultural Studies and Diversity Studies: Cultural studies and diversity studies are central to our community. These two interdisciplinary approaches to the study of texts include consideration of perspectives such as gender, class, sexuality, disability, nationalism, ethnicity, and race. Cultural studies and diversity studies are fundamental to literary and writing studies and provide intellectual tools that enrich our analysis of texts within and across cultures. Our consideration of cultural studies and diversity also asks students to note the representation of power and privilege and how literatures, broadly defined, convey perspectives of historically marginalized communities and speak to global as well as domestic concerns and intersections.
Canon Formation: Cultures, local and international, contemporary and historical, create canons. Canons are a significant result of each culture's literary community. Therefore, comprehending canons, canon formation, and non-canonical texts is essential to understanding and contributing to literary and writing traditions. Our commitment to studying both canonical and alternative traditions means students have the opportunity to analyze literary "classics" as well as emerging and marginalized voices and popular traditions, including digital texts and films.
Theory and History: Theory and history serve as tools to help us explore and demonstrate our understanding of texts within and across cultures. A range of theoretical approaches and historical knowledge provide us with necessary thinking tools. Theoretical and historical frameworks also allow students to see how literature can be viewed in intersectional ways and how literature addresses questions of social justice.
Reading: Meaningful analysis requires careful reading. Engaging in close reading makes it possible to take account of rhetorical, prosodic, and other formal features. It also provides a careful grounding in the ideological, cultural, and institutional contexts in which meaning and power are produced and enriches our understanding of texts and the cultures from which they come.
Writing: Creating and presenting texts and related media in a variety of genres enriches our understanding of the constructed nature of literary materials. The ability to produce effective and compelling communication in writing is fundamental to literary and writing studies.
Translations and Changing Meanings: Understanding that the translation of texts across languages and forms changes the meanings of these texts is crucial to interpretive skillbuilding. A reading knowledge of at least one language other than English is desirable for an advanced understanding of literature and writing in a global context.