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The mission of the English Department is to foster critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills. In our classrooms and in our scholarship, we explore writers, thinkers, and ideas from diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds and traditions, as well as across a broad historical range. We affirm the Penn State Values of integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence, and community. Accordingly, and in the words of that document, “we respect and honor the dignity of each person, embrace civil discourse, and foster a diverse and inclusive community.” We adhere to these values not just because they are Penn State values, but because they derive from basic human values.

Our students can count on the English Department to sustain a generative space for creativity, rhetorical and civic deliberation, scholarly inquiry, and an openness to new ideas. We oppose harassment based on race, gender, religion, national origin, LGBTQ+ status, immigration status, or disability. The English Department provides a safe, respectful learning environment for all students, including those who are trans and gender non-conforming. Our commitment to addressing students by their chosen names and pronouns reflects our dedication to free expression. We recognize that learning occurs in many forms, and that education is the product of passionate discourse and intellectual engagement.

Penn State is the Historic Home of American Literary Studies

Our American literature faculty continue the mission of Fred Lewis Pattee, who was the first in the nation to hold the title of Professor of American Literature.

Learn more about our area groups in American literature »

Adventure Awaits with Penn State English

Students in our Adventure Literature courses climb, hike, or kayak their way through literary landscapes and write about their experiences.

Learn more about our Adventure Literature courses »