Black Lives Matter. The Literature and Writing Studies Department is in solidarity with Black communities after the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, and the ongoing pattern of systemic racism and injustice that targets black and brown bodies. As a department governed by the principles of Cultural Studies, we have long studied through literary culture the legacy of stolen lands and bodies.
Our statement is more than our commitment to celebrating the diverse voices in literary and cultural texts. We take this opportunity to renew our commitment to teaching, creative practices, writing practices, and scholarship that not only include diverse voices and perspectives, but also examine the privileges and biases inherent within academic discourse, and to center marginalized voices.
Historically across the United States, universities have benefitted from settler colonialist land claims and slave labor while reproducing power structures that continue to empower the most privileged communities. Likewise, the field of English and literary studies is part of a historical academic legacy tied to empire and imperialism that must be reckoned with by scholars and students today. English Studies has historically silenced voices of color, promoted canon formation practices that have undermined the value of literature by marginalized communities, advocated for a brand of grammatical correctness designed to uphold class divisions and racialized discourses, and perpetuated the myth of language standardization.
The LTWR department at CSUSM has long been dedicated to the Cultural Studies model that advocates for the inclusion of diverse voices, dismantles the notion of a singular literary canon, and asks its practitioners to examine and analyze closely how power, privilege, identity, and agency are portrayed. The anti-racist and decolonizing methods used in literary studies today can only be effective, though, if we acknowledge that these are methods that require lifelong learning and continual improvement.
We use this statement as an opportunity to recommit to our values as a department and promise to continue to improve our practices as teachers and researchers. In particular, we commit to the following actions immediately:
The field of literary and writing studies has the potential to provide students with critical tools and skillsets that will allow them to advocate for a more just society.
We stand with our students and encourage them to connect with resources on campus which are available to support their paths to success: