Mission and History
"You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures." - Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
From Freshman Writing to advanced graduate work, the Department of English offers students the tools they need to understand and interact with the world around them: reading, writing, and interpretation. A variety of courses in writing, language, and rhetoric develop effective, critical communication and thinking skills. Courses on literary genres, periods, theories, and themes, and on literary criticism, provide opportunities to engage with and in literary traditions and practices and an understanding of the role and value of literature in our own world.
The department offers Freshman composition and Sophomore literature courses that are useful to all students and also provide the groundwork of the English major. EH 101 and 102 are required of most students at USA and seek to improve students' abilities to write effectively in college as well as enhance their thinking skills and reading abilities. Sophomore courses include two-course surveys of English, American, and World literatures, as well as courses on literary themes and genres designed to introduce the broad scope of literature in English and to develop competence in critical reading. Upper-division offerings in literature include courses organized around major literary periods, important authors, and significant ideas and theoretical perspectives, as well as a number of variable topic courses designed to suit students' needs and interests. Advanced writing and rhetoric courses offer students perspectives on the theories and practices of language, writing, and persuasion as they develop specific academic and professional interests in print and computer-mediated communication. Creative writing courses provide students the opportunity to exercise their own literary skills while offering professional training and guidance.