In the Department of English, we teach students how to think critically and creatively, and we conduct research to advance knowledge about culture, language, and the written word. Our graduate and undergraduate curricula emphasize deep research skills and unbounded creativity, preparing students for successful careers in academia, business, law, and other professions, as well as nonprofit work, teaching, writing, publishing, and the arts. Courses refine students’ oral and written communication skills, teaching them to be precise, clear, and inventive stylists.
The study of literature and language is at the core of each undergraduate major, providing a common, foundational knowledge about the cultural contexts in which texts and linguistic artifacts are produced, interpreted, and circulated. Individual undergraduate majors (English, creative writing, and professional and technical writing) provide specialized approaches to textual and linguistic critique and invention. Students graduate with enhanced capacities to understand both their cultures and the experiences of others, through varied experiences of collaboration and textual border-crossing that are inherent in our curriculum.
Classes in the English department are small. Students spend quality time with our award-winning faculty and have opportunities for individual and team-based research experiences. The department supports a number of internships. We invite visiting writers and scholars to speak every semester, and each spring students share their work at an undergraduate research conference and a student-run literary festival. Our undergraduate students publish in various Virginia Tech magazines, and graduate creative writing students serve as editors for two national journals.
Affirmation of the Virginia Tech Principles of Community
The Department of English stands for free speech and upholds the Virginia Tech Principles of Community. We reject all forms of discrimination and prejudice while affirming all individuals’ rights to speak. The university’s Principles of Community guide our practices when responding to objectionable speech, encouraging civility and respect to promote inclusive dialogue and affirm the value of diversity. At the same time, we are offended by speech that demeans the humanity of any member of our community.
The right to speak freely is ensconced in the Constitution of the United States, and we honor its central role in our nation’s culture—to promote public debate and to safeguard individual freedoms. As scholars of language and literature — as writers, editors, and readers — we believe in the power of language to reach across difference and promote understanding; we also witness its often-corrosive force in civil society.
Many of us have directly experienced language meant to hurt, to violate, and to diminish. Negotiating free speech in the spirit of inclusivity is the challenge of our time.