English has long held a central place in education. To study English is to learn the history of the English language and the importance of literature in our culture. The skills learned in studying English – the close reading and careful analysis of texts, the ability to write clearly and concisely, and the ability to both make and critique arguments – are essential to success not only in education, but also in a wide range of work environments. Even more importantly, English studies promote an active engagement with cultural values. That is to say, our discipline encourages us to examine accepted truths, to question and test them as part of our everyday work. By doing so, we foster open debates about power, knowledge, and identity. It's our firm conviction that such debates are crucial to the ongoing process of developing a culturally diverse society. Like other subjects in the Humanities, English studies help us to think about what it means to be human, and to understand the cultural and natural environments we inhabit.
As a programme we are made up of three basic groups, all of whom are indispensable: teachers, students, and administrative staff. Nor is it unusual for teachers to learn from students and administrative staff, who in turn learn from teachers and each other. In other words, we are interlinked in the process of learning, and we depend on each other as we work together towards our common goal – the pursuit of knowledge.
News and Announcements
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Howard McNaughton at his home on Friday 28th March, 2014. Howard was a deeply respected and long-serving member of the University of Canterbury English Department. He published widely in the field of modern and postcolonial drama, including writing the Drama sections in both editions of The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature. He helped pioneer Cultural Studies teaching and research at the University of Canterbury and was published in one of the disciplines leading journals, Social Semiotics. He was the New Zealand editor of the Encyclopedia of Post Colonial Literatures in English (Routledge, 2005), and his book The Reinvention of Everyday Life: Culture in the Twenty-first Century (2006), has been translated into Chinese. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and his students.
New courses in 2014
English is offering two new courses at entry level in 2014.
ENGL 103 The Outsider
In semester one, ENGL103 The Outsider will be taught for the first time. The course will investigate how the literature of the outsider – that figure often represented as the artist or the child, the outlaw or the outcast, the zombie or the superhero, the ‘mad’ or the dangerously individualistic – can help us critique the various cultural assumptions that circulate in formations of American and New Zealand society.
ENGL 102 Great Works
In semester two, ENGL102 Great Works will focus on 'Metamorphosis', a theme that occurs throughout literature: gods become human or vice versa; beggars become princes and princesses or vice versa; people turn into trees, rocks, monsters, birds, beetles…. By paying attention to many kinds of metamorphosis in a range of ‘great works’, this course will aim to develop students’ understanding of how various kinds of change — cultural, social, psychological — shape and are shaped by their representation in literature.