The Department of English at Marquette University is a community of scholar-teachers and students who embrace the traditional Jesuit conception of liberal education inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Grounded in this tradition, the department focuses on the study of “humane letters,” which is accorded a central and indispensable place in Jesuit education and defined as the study of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, and history.
Informed by this tradition as well as by contemporary English Studies, the department includes nationally and internationally prominent faculty and offers the following programs of study: two undergraduate majors (English Literature and Writing-Intensive English), an M.A. degree in American and British literature, and a Ph.D. degree in American and British literature.
While pursuing these degrees, undergraduate and graduate students:
- Develop an understanding of the nature of language: its structure, its systematic change over time, and its relationship with social diversity in the United States.
- Develop an understanding and mastery of the art of rhetoric, specifically the ability to recognize and analyze rhetorical strategies of other writers and to construct clear and cogent arguments in a mature voice and individual style.
- Develop habits of logical thinking, proceeding from the identification of evidence, through the construction of hypotheses, to the identification of conclusions.
- Develop a knowledge and understanding of the traditions of literature in the English language, primarily British and American including postcolonial, multicultural, and women’s literatures.
- Develop analytical and research methods for critical, theoretical, and aesthetic engagement with this literature.
- Develop an understanding of how the imaginative constructs of poetry, drama, and prose (fiction and nonfiction) illuminate fundamental questions of human experience.
- Develop an understanding of how diverse sources and events in the past contribute to the richness and complexity of present cultures.
[Note: For a discussion of Jesuit concepts of “humane letters,” see The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Chapter 12: "The Subjects Which Should Be Taught in the Universities of the Society."]