“Unless you are at home in metaphor,” Robert Frost once wrote—unless you are able to deal with the complexities, implications and surprises of figurative language, a language that surrounds us even in the worlds of advertising and science—then “you are lost.” The English Department teaches students both to read and write maturely and correctly on the literal level and also to interpret and use figurative language. In the classroom, that role is carried out through studies in composition; language, rhetoric and writing, literature, criticism; and creative writing.
Every aspect of the English Department’s program attempts to communicate a sense of wonder and excitement about our written culture and to engage the student’s imagination. We make students aware that whenever they read or write, complex and sometimes contradictory elements—factual, emotive, logical—must be apprehended, held in balance, and accorded appropriate weight. We want them to be able to identify and order intricate responses to arrive at a sound understanding of a written text or to produce clear and forceful writing of their own.
What students learn in the English Department adds to their inventory of competencies and enriches their experience of life. We recognize that the ability to understand and produce good writing is an invaluable mental resource.