What we commonly call “English” is actually a collection of disciplines: it’s the study of the language itself; of literature written in the English language; of the critical approaches to that literature; of the cultures that produce, read, and reproduce that literature; of popular culture and film; and of the craft of fine writing and the techniques of communication. As a synthetic discipline, English borrows readily from other disciplines, especially from those in the humanities and social sciences, but increasingly from the natural sciences as well.
The Department of English provides for students instruction to sharpen their skills in rhetoric and textual communication, in literary analysis, and critical appreciation. For its majors, the department offers a traditional course of study in British and American literature, augmented by courses in critical theory, creative and professional writing, and film and cultural studies. Our majors graduate prepared for graduate studies and for careers in academe, print media, law, business and other professions where analytical and communication skills are important. The department's larger mission is to provide all Centenary students the means to appreciate not only the "examined life" extolled by Socrates, but also the "felt life" envisioned by Henry James.
All English courses at Centenary emphasize critical inquiry, thinking, reading, writing, and speaking, and regularly take up questions of historical socio-cultural relevance. In particular, courses in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory engage these questions directly as they relate to the study of literature and cultures of the past and present (and the future if we include science fiction). Literature, creative writing, and film are all forms of artistic expression that are highly valued in the department. In addition to artistic and cultural appreciation being a regular focus of English courses, the monthly colloquia and the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence provide co-curricular opportunities to celebrate literary expression.
Centenary’s English faculty is made up of active scholars whose research interests and publications inform a range of course offerings, from traditional literary surveys to more specialized courses such as Science Fiction, Shakespeare on Film, Literary Journalism, and Digital Cultures.