The study of the rich heritage represented by literature in English is an indispensable part of a liberal arts education at Kenyon College. The variety of critical orientations of the Department's faculty models for its students a wide range of possible approaches to literature; this variety reflects both a sensitivity to the current state of literary study, and to the needs of a large body of students with diverse interests and divergent reasons for enrolling in English courses or pursuing the major. The plurality of approaches to literary texts and the variety of reasons students cite for pursuing the study of English are also reflected in the Department's rich array of courses, emphases, and programs. In all instances, the Department takes care that students pursue their interests in classes whose size remains pedagogically effective.
The Department supports the College's commitment to general education by providing a series of introductory courses which are designed to help first- and second-year students improve their skills as readers, writers, and thinkers, while generally familiarizing them with the methods of literary study. The Department's curriculum exposes English majors to the variety of critical approaches constituting contemporary literary studies. We are at once committed to immersing them in the broad heritage constituted by literature written in English, and also to helping them develop deep knowledge in individually selected, specific areas of literary discourse. Throughout their course of study, students are instructed in attentive close reading, critical thinking, effective speaking, and skillful writing. As they progress through the major they encounter courses requiring independent research and promoting greater degrees of critical and theoretical self-consciousness as well as increasingly sophisticated understandings of historical and cultural contexts, theoretical issues, and stylistic and generic subtleties.
Kenyon students interested in creative writing receive instruction in workshops in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose. The Department offers them the option of completing the English major with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. Majors interested in international education are encouraged to participate in the Department-sponsored Kenyon Exeter Program or in other JYA options approved by the College. The Department provides an opportunity for advanced students to engage in independent research in its Honors Program.
The Department of English recognizes that its responsibilities do not end simply with its curriculum and program, but rather extend to the greater Kenyon College community and to the discipline as a whole. Consequently, we commit ourselves to an ongoing scholarly investigation of new developments in the field, both for their own sakes and for their effects on the conduct of our classes, just as many of us commit ourselves to the production of creative works, as well. Similarly, the Department collectively involves itself with various administrative responsibilities and initiatives consistent with a program of academic advising, student support, and faculty governance at a small liberal arts college.