Department of English
Mississippi State University
We, the members of the Department of English, seek to provide MSU students with the ability to use language effectively so that they may reach their full potentials as individuals and as productive members of society. We therefore dedicate ourselves to teaching students to read closely, to think critically, and to write persuasively through the disciplined study of language, literature, and scholarly enquiry. We are also strongly committed to creating knowledge and pursuing our own programs of scholarship and creative writing.
Programmatic Goals and Outcomes
In carrying out the mission stated above, we pursue the following programmatic goals:
• That students write well developed expository, persuasive, and critical essays.
• That students design documents to meet the needs of readers
• That students edit documents effectively.
• That students understand the rhetorical strategies the writers use to achieve their purposes.
• That students learn to conduct research by finding and using sources in the library, on the internet, and in the field.
• That students attribute quotations and document sources correctly and ethically in essays based on research.
BA and MA Programs in English
• That students achieve greater sophistication in using the skills learned in the Composition Program (above).
• That students learn the generic conventions of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction employed in English and American literature, and, for those who so elect, learn to write poetry and fiction.
• That students learn the generic plot structures (tragedy, comedy, satire) that inform English and American literature
• That students learn the historical contexts that shape English and American literature.
• That students learn the critical theories that illuminate and shape English and American literature.
• That students learn the themes that inform English and American literature.
• That students learn the history of the language, and, for those who so elect, learn to teach English as a second language
To ensure that our programs reach these goals, our faculty members pursue the following outcomes, each expressing what our graduates should know and be able to do.
• Develop appropriate content to support claims in expository, persuasive, and critical writing.
• Arrange content in appropriate patterns—spatial, chronological, relational, logical—to develop ideas persuasively.
• Edit to meet readers’ expectations for clarity and correctness.
• Analyze and evaluate the choices writers make to achieve rhetorical and aesthetic purposes.
• Show understanding of the generic conventions and plot structures that inform English and American literature.
• Show understanding of the major themes and schools of criticism in the history of English and American literature.
• Locate appropriate primary and secondary sources efficiently in conducting literary research.
• Quote primary and secondary sources correctly and document research correctly and ethically.
Curricular and Pedagogical Strategies
To achieve these programmatic outcomes, faculty members employ the following strategies:
Offer survey courses that give students the foundation to study English and American literature in more depth.
Offer junior-level writing courses as well as courses in creative writing.
Offer courses in the history of the language and linguistics as well as in critical theory and composition theory.
Offer upper-division courses focusing on major authors, genres, and historical periods.
Employ a writing-centered pedagogy, focusing on peer response and revision.
Offer speaker programs and writing contests to encourage a sense of professionalism.
Operate a university Writing Center, where a faculty director and trained student interns assist MSU students in their development as writers.