The IMS English Department has––at least for the last decade or so––encouraged students to treat their interaction with every text in the syllabus like an investigation. What is this novel, short story, play, excerpt, podcast, or piece of longform journalism really about? How is this central subject signaled (subtly or overtly) by the author/writer/creator of the work in question? Is the author levying a judgment? If so, what is it? What’s the relevance of this assertion to the way we think and live? The focus has always been on active reading and rigorous engagement with the texts considered. This year, as the English and History departments prepare to merge and adopt a unified humanities model in 2022-2023, the lines of inquiry we’ll follow will be largely the same in both disciplines. We’ll strive to adequately and accurately define terms such as “power,” “justice,” “identity,” “equity,” “perspective,” “alterity,” “privilege,” and “morality.” Then we’ll seek to sufficiently unpack and account for the relationships extant between these concepts, as the students come to understand how their interaction and interplay, their causality and influence, dictate the social structure of societies and civilizations.
Expression has long been at the forefront of what we do. Being articulate in discussion and eloquent on the page have always been paramount learning goals. When it comes to written work, the modes of expression that receive the lion’s share of attention are persuasive/expository, introspective, and creative writing: the stylistic (and pedagogical) emphasis is, respectively, on clarity and concision in the first case; candor and earnestness in the second; observation, detail, vividness, and narrative elements in the last. The goal is to endow students with the analytical acumen to dissect and distill sophisticated content and the technical mastery to trenchantly convey their views and beliefs about said content.