The mission of the English Department is to sustain and promote intellectual inquiry and cultural literacy, primarily through teaching and research in English and American literature and in other textual and language studies. Intellectual inquiry continually re-examines writings (and such unwritten texts as film and oral folklore) of the past and present, to enhance our understandings of how they reflect and shape culture and life. Such inquiry also examines itself, to renew or replace its assumptions and techniques. The true cultural literacy that the Department teaches is both knowledge of many kinds of texts and independent critical engagement with those texts.
The Department teaches writing at all levels and throughout its courses, including creative writing of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. It teaches appreciation and mastery of the English language in courses including composition, technical and business writing, English as a second language, linguistics, and writing for teachers. Both the written research of faculty and the writing of students are central to the mission to promote inquiry and sustain literacy.