Literature at U.M.
As the late astronomer Carl Sagan observed, when you read a book you enter “the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.” If we care to expand our cultural horizons, our knowledge of human nature, our creative imaginations, and our capacity for empathy, no form of communication is more powerfully effective than literature.
In a self–described "Age of Information," we too often forget that becoming "informed" necessitates becoming ethical and engaged. In a time of super-saturation of information, never was the need for the wisdom of the Humanities in this task more pressing. The English literature program at UM engages students in the profound enterprise of converting undigested bits and bytes of information into comprehensible and meaningful ideas that can inform a full and meaningful life.
The study of literature is, at its root, a model for the kinds of engagement that we ought to expect from our citizens: open-minded; open-ended; driven by curiosity; resistant to platitudes and easy truths; committed to a pursuit of deeper understanding; and appreciative of the unique form of human truth conveyed in aesthetic form.
The Literature Faculty of the English Department believes that the study of literature is an essential component of the University´s broader mission "to educate competent and humane professionals and informed, ethical, and engaged citizens of local and global communities." We teach our students the act of reading and thinking as an act of self–understanding, as well as an act of understanding the Other, the different, the new, and the unique. As readers of, and writers about, literature, our faculty and students construct means by which that understanding can be refined, through writing and thinking that represents our deepest commitments.
We invite you to join us in this task.