You are here: Home About Us

We are English, We are Penn State!

Welcome to Penn State English, a department of path-breaking scholars, magnificent teachers, talented students, and accomplished alumni. Our faculty--many well-known scholars and national leaders among them--have set a standard of excellence for the department. Indeed, in the most recent National Research Council ranking of doctoral programs (2010), Penn State English placed near the top, behind only Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, and Columbia.

Our faculty cover all major areas of literary scholarship, rhetoric, and creative writing---in projects ranging from research on medieval land charters and on Shakespeare’s reflections on literary authorship to editions of works of major American authors such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and James; from explorations of antebellum American democracy and of racial discourse in American poetry to the notion of human extinction in contemporary thought; from the history of rhetoric to the fate of the humanities in the American university. Our creative writing program offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Our department utterly dispels the myth, though, that great researchers achieve success at the expense of their engagement with students.  Faculty members in the Department of English are committed to sharing their scholarly and creative lives with their students, and I'm proud to say that they have won more university-wide teaching awards than any other department on campus.

It is the department's mission to foster the critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills that enrich our undergraduates' lives and help prepare them for the challenges of the job market; to train our graduate students to become tomorrow's leading scholars and teachers; and to maintain our nationally prominent academic job placement success.

It helps, of course, that our students are smart, energetic, optimistic, and committed to public service. Our doctoral students have earned one of the highest job placement rates in our cohort, and our undergraduate students have gone on to careers as writers, teachers, editors, lawyers, corporate executives, and even doctors. Their work ethic matches our own.

Penn State English offers a place for students, faculty, and alumni--in Happy Valley and beyond--to "only connect," as E. M. Forster wrote. We hope that you will join our community of readers, writers, and thinkers.