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About the English Department

The English Department aims to provide an exceptional education in English literature and culture. It does this in several ways.

First, the department’s programs offer a comprehensive analytical and historical approach to reading and writing. Undergraduates who earn a BA in the department will emerge with a thorough understanding of the English literary heritage as well as the ability to think, argue, and write well about questions of language, meaning, evidence, form, rhetoric, historical context, and aesthetic desire. The skills learned in the English Department classroom thus provide an essential foundation for careers in law, business, government, education, finance, and media. Graduate students undertake advanced training that will allow them to earn an MA, MFA, and PhD, and thus to pursue careers in teaching and scholarship at the secondary and university level. The department’s commitment to its students has been recognized with numerous teaching awards.

Second, the department is intensively engaged in original research on both literature and culture, and represents a diverse and dynamic model of scholarly activity for its students. Recent publications include books by Stacey Margolis on the social determination of American individualism, Scott Black on the nature of the eighteenth-century English essay, Vincent Pecora on culture and secularism, Andrew Franta on Romanticism and publicity, Craig Dworkin on poetry and sound, Matthew Potolsky on the idea of mimesis, and Kathryn Stockton on the queer child. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Vincent Cheng, for example, is one of the country’s leading experts on James Joyce; Dennis Kezar is the author of innovative and challenging work on John Milton; and Anne Jamison is revising our understanding of Victorian poetry. The department’s scholarship has earned national and international recognition. Students who work with these and equally accomplished faculty members will be taken on an intellectual adventure that can be found in few other departments.

Third, the department offers a vibrant and highly successful program of instruction in creative writing, committed on all levels to developing well-rounded writers with training in literature as well as in multiple genres. At the undergraduate level, students are assured of small workshops and intensive focus on their writing as well as the opportunity to submit manuscripts for publication in the department’s two literary magazines. Graduate students publish in national literary journals, and many place books before or soon after completing the program; emerging PhDs in creative writing routinely find good academic positions. In 2007, the Atlantic Monthly rated the department’s PhD in creative writing among the top five in the country. The aesthetically diverse faculty, many of whom are nationally and internationally recognized in several genres, includes Katharine Coles, Lance Olsen, Jacqueline Osherow, Paisley Rekdal, and Melanie Rae Thon.

The English Department invites all students interested in expanding their intellectual horizons and honing their practical skills in reading and writing to make an appointment with one of our Academic Advisors. Studying literature at the university level in an English Department as exciting as the University of Utah’s is an opportunity that should not be missed.

Last Updated: 11/22/17