Liberal Arts 112
Literature at U.M.
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." In a self–described "Age of Information," we too often forget that becoming "informed" necessitates becoming "ethical" and "engaged," and, at a time of super–saturation of information, never was the need for the wisdom of the Humanities in this task more pressing. We thus engage our students in the profound enterprise of converting undigested particles, bits and bytes of information into comprehensible and meaningful ideas that can be integrated into a full and meaningful life.
Historically, literature has provided a crucial means by which truths–including the negative and critical truths so necessary to a civilization´s evolving self–awareness–have been transmitted. We take part in that transmission in our teaching, our research, and our writing, all of which extend the collective body of human knowledge and enrich human understanding. 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.
We teach our students the act of reading and thinking as a profound 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 warmly invite you to join us in this task.