Changes May Be in Store for English Department


(Photo by Preston Zubal)

(Photo by Preston Zubal)
(Photo by Preston Zubal)

Students may be in for a surprise with possible upcoming changes in the English degree curriculum.
Rumors are going around that English major requirements may change and that these changes would be aimed to make students competent writers in the real world.
However, Shawn Adrian, the undergraduate academic advisor of the department, dispelled these rumors.
“It is way too early to have anything set in stone right now,” Adrian said. “We are barely in discussion about what these changes could be. Every department undergoes adjustments to their curriculums periodically — that is all our conversations are about right now.”
Adrian said there could be some changes announced in the future.
“We are at a premature stage right now where 100 different things could happen,” he said. “This could include new courses, the curriculum changing or additional requirements. Things will be much more clear in six months. But as of now, nothing has been decided. We are looking through all of the potentials and trying to see where beneficial changes could take place.”
Andrea Evans, an undeclared freshman, is taking a 2010 English class to complete her general writing requirements.
“I sometimes feel like [the] class is a waste of time,” Evans said. “We will come to class and talk about punctuation the whole time. I hate that I’m wasting tuition on such a basic class.”
Evans said she is concerned with future changes to the English degree.
“I’m still undeclared but would really love to declare in English,” she said. “If they added more boring punctuation classes, though, I would probably consider [communication] instead.”
Thomas Stillinger, professor in English, said he understands the struggle students may go through in their writing abilities.
“I really sympathize with students who work a full time job and also take like 19 credit hours,” Stillinger said. “But I think that when students graduate with a degree in English, they should be expected to be competent writers.”
Stillinger said he often advises his students to step away from their writing for a while and sleep on it, in order to return to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
“After they have had time to rest, they can read their paper like someone new and make any necessary changes to make their paper stronger,” he said.
Stillinger said he tailors a particular assignment to help students improve their overall writing.
“I assigned one assignment to students with the requirement that I would not grade it until it was free of mechanical errors,” he said. “This means that students had their papers returned to them until there are no mistakes. While formatting is not a major concern for me, I do get surprised at the level of writing in my 3000 level English classes and the small mistakes made.”
Most importantly, Stillinger said, these changes should not affect the goals in the department.
“We in English really love literature, poetry and film,” he said. “When it comes down to it, writing is at the heart of everything we are doing. We just want our students to be the most successful they can be.”
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