Introducing English Studies
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If you are reading this textbook, you likely have declared an English major or minor, or you are seriously considering doing so. You might have entered university knowing that you would major or minor in English Studies or one of its many more focused areas. If that is not the case, you might be adding an English major or minor to your existing academic plan, or you might be considering changing your major or minor from something else, such as business, nursing, something in the social sciences like psychology or sociology, or something in science, technology, engineering, or math (often referred to as STEM). Choosing a major or minor means that you select a discipline , or an academic area of inquiry, and often within that discipline you focus on a field or an area of specialization within that discipline. All majors and minors reflect the broader values of an academic discipline, and many also connect to more focused disciplinary fields.
Why might students choose to pursue training in English Studies? What might they expect to discover through that training? These questions drive each chapter of Introducing English Studies, which aims to familiarize students with the core components of advanced engagement with English as a discipline:! language study; textual analysis and interpretation ; the creation of literary, persuasive, and professional pieces of writing; theoretical frameworks in the discipline; pedagogical approaches to the discipline; and technological interventions and the future of the discipline. By offering a panoramic overview of the different fields of English Studies, this textbook highlights connections between those fields and showcases debates that shape English Studies as it evolves in the twenty- first century.
As students peruse the table of contents, they may wonder how their own interests in the discipline connect to the many fields that this book represents. Why is it important to understand rhetoric if I!want to pursue creative writing? Why, if I!am interested in writing in professional settings, should I!understand literature as an art and cultural artifact? A!fundamental argument of this textbook is that before individuals can specialize in distinct fields of the discipline, as they might do in pursuing graduate degrees, they benefit from understanding general information about each of the fields and learning how the different fields intersect. As English Studies evolves, ideas about what counts in the discipline change, and this textbook aims to prepare students to engage with the evolving discipline long after graduation. Beyond that, Introducing English Studies acknowledges the ways that people and their motivations change over time, and by offering a broad introduction to the discipline, this textbook anticipates the ways in which its readers ’ interests and investments may grow and change with time and experience.
Furthermore, as students begin reading, they may wonder how to resolve conflicts that they perceive between the values, preoccupations, and methods of the different fields of the discipline, or why it is important to bother to do so. This textbook suggests that the work that individuals do to understand the conflicts between fields helps individuals to articulate the core values on which the fields agree. For example, while literature, rhetoric and composition, and creative writing differ significantly on key issues, they all have similar respect for the power of language as a tool for argumentation , self- expression, communication , and creativity. As students trace the common values of the fields of English Studies, they gain the necessary background to serve as ambassadors for the discipline with public audiences as well as to better understand their own academic and professional passions and purposes.
This textbook aims to provide students with a framework for thinking about their own place in the discipline of English Studies. It offers tools that students can use for selecting a complement of courses to complete their major or minor requirements, which will serve their future goals. Choosing English prepares students not only for the world of work but also for their futures as lifelong learners and engaged citizens. English Studies teaches students to interpret, write, create, and share their work with others.