As a first-year student, Kevin Linton planned to become a high school social studies teacher. But, as he puts it, “life is full of surprises: three years, four majors, and half a dozen career dreams later...” he is an English major.
The scope of the UNH Department of English is unusual among institutions that compare in size and mission, presenting our students with a unique learning experience. At other full-scale universities, programs in literature, creative writing, journalism, composition, technical writing, linguistics, English as a Second Language, and English teacher preparation reside in separate departments and, in many cases, different colleges, with separate curricula and faculties. At UNH, all of these related programs are structured to support one another in a single department. The department, therefore, is extraordinarily diverse, with thirty-six tenure-track faculty and twenty-four lecturers representing a range of disciplines spanning the humanities and the social sciences. What pulls the Department together is the study of the English language in its various spoken and written forms.
The English Department offers four majors for undergraduates: English, English Literature, English Teaching, and English/Journalism. A fifth undergraduate program is the interdepartmental Linguistics major.
Through these diverse but interrelated programs of study, the English Department seeks, first, to train students in the professional study of literature in the English language. Through this pursuit, students recognize literature’s formal dynamics, gain an understanding of its influence on or response to its readership, study the history of the printed book and developing concepts of “authorship,” achieve a beginning facility in literary theory, and learn to interpret works of literature in historical, regional, national, and global contexts. In conjunction with this broad, multifaceted aim, we strive to educate students about the history and nature of English language in its spoken and written forms. As a third and equally important part of our mission, we teach students to write clearly, persuasively, and elegantly.
In all five of its undergraduate majors, the English Department provides students with the kinds of critical thinking, research, and writing skills that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives. The English Literature major is particularly useful to students preparing for graduate study in English or legal training, given its emphasis on rigorous textual analysis and structured argumentation. Our professionally-oriented undergraduate programs, the majors in English Teaching and English/Journalism, prepare students for direct entrance into the workforce in fields that are eager for well-trained teachers, writers, and researchers. Students who elect the Linguistics major engage in scientific inquiry into English and other languages and prepare for entrance into a variety of careers, including teaching, translation, information processing, and speech technology. Taken together, the English Department’s undergraduate programs embody liberal education and civic commitment.
For those students who pursue programs within other colleges on campus, but who wish to improve their writing, we offer several writing courses that focus on composition within a variety of contexts. We also offer a number of general education course that have wide appeal to those who love literature, writing, and language.