Assistant Professor of English
If we want to understand our world and our place in it, and if we want to be engaged participants in today’s—and tomorrow’s—events, then we need to engage with the words, ideas, and stories of our past and our present. Literature invites new ways of seeing the world that empower us to (re)discover ourselves as well as the communities and places to which we belong. So why study literature? I think Lorraine Hansberry said it best: “The highest gift that [we have] is art, and…there is both joy and beauty and illumination and communion between people to be achieved through the dissection of personality.”
One of the best things about taking English courses is that learning takes place on a variety of levels, often simultaneously. At the same time that we’re developing and enriching specific language skills like verbal argumentation and scholarly writing, we’re also encountering and contemplating new histories, philosophies, and subcultures. And, of course, we’re learning more about ourselves. All of that is to say that what you learn in English courses isn’t reducible to any one thing: instead, it’s an unfolding conversation with and about the complexity of the world around us as we interact with it through language.
That’s an impossible question to answer! Honestly, it changes all the time—and there are so many amazing books I still have yet to read—but some of my recent favorites have been works by Cameron Awkward-Rich, Louise Erdrich, and Julie Otsuka.