The Department of English studies language, literature, and media. Our activities in teaching, scholarship, and service, within and beyond the university, focus on literature, writing and rhetoric, criticism and theory, linguistics, media, and creative writing. The research and teaching of the department connect these varied ways of understanding language, text, and discourse in a manner that enriches them all.


As scholar-teachers, the English faculty are committed to balancing teaching, mentoring, and research as mutually beneficial endeavors. Through research and teaching, our faculty work to expand knowledge of language, literature, and various expressive media in local, national, and global contexts. They regularly publish a range of scholarly and creative works for a broad, international constituency of readers, as well as present their work at professional meetings for audiences of their peers.

The faculty of the department are proud to lead the way for students who will be scholars of and discerning participants in the wider culture. As part of its teaching mission, the Department of English offers three well established degree programs, while also contributing significantly to VCU’s interdisciplinary PhD in Media, Art, and Text. The BA provides students with the necessary critical, expressive, and cultural skills to negotiate life in a competitive world: it constitutes a base for graduate study as well as for careers in a variety of professional fields. The MA in English and the MFA in Creative Writing provide nationally and internationally recognized graduate programs in the humanities. The PhD in Media, Art, and Text, one of the most innovative and interdisciplinary PhD programs of its kind, equips future generations of college teachers and researchers with the tools for taking leadership roles in a media-driven culture. The department also offers undergraduate minors in English, Writing, British Studies, and American Studies.

These broad and rigorous programs are dedicated to the advancement of ideas and values, as well as to a deeper understanding of the literary imagination in its multiple dimensions. We teach students to engage with the aesthetic features, rhetorical elements, and sociocultural functions of texts in both traditional and new media. Together with the study of literature from diverse historical periods and cultural contexts, our degree programs teach students to understand—and to master—the arts of expository and imaginative writing. As part of the university’s urban mission, our degree programs address the needs of students from diverse backgrounds.

The Department of English promotes interdisciplinary study by offering courses highly relevant to several cross-disciplinary programs: American Studies; African American Studies; Environmental Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies; Medical Humanities; the University Honors Program; and the Media, Art, and Text PhD. It also offers courses in linguistics and in advanced writing required by other majors, and provides general education courses in literature for all students in the university.

Members of the English department advance their profession through activities such as: editing scholarly and creative publications; refereeing articles and manuscripts; presenting work on and organizing panels and sessions at regional, national, and international conferences; giving readings and lecturing at academic and other venues; doing editorial, digital and collaborative work; serving on juries that evaluate the work of their peers; and acting in elected capacities for regional, national, and international professional organizations. They serve the university by running several established prize series, publishing digitally in-house, and doing administrative, committee, consulting, and other institutional work.

The department engages the community through public teaching activities, such as lectures, workshops, and continuing education courses in a variety of environments and provides expertise in many forms regarding the English language and written communication. The department also acts as an outreach center for the community’s interest in literature, media, and creative writing, offering cultural events such as public lectures and readings by distinguished scholars, poets, fiction writers, playwrights, and new media experts.

As we continue to develop as a department, we plan to continue, as well, our involvement in research and creative endeavor, teaching, and service. In line with the university’s Carnegie ranking and the English department’s status as one of the foremost degree granting departments in the College of Humanities and Sciences, we are devoted to building our population of tenured faculty in future years to meet the needs of VCU students and to make the department a leader among English departments of peer research institutions in the state, the region, and the nation at large. We view ourselves as one of Virginia’s and the Mid-Atlantic region’s principal cultural institutions, we embrace innovative work across disciplines, and we are an important component of VCU’s institutional and global vision. Our primary mission is to keep growing as a unit and as members of an increasingly sophisticated and active community of thinkers.

—Adopted March 9, 1994
—Revised May 5, 2011