Reviewing English

A project to provide an overview of the state of the discipline, which will inform the work of colleagues in UK HEIs, and shape the strategic direction of both the English Association and University English

About the project

The last reviews of English Studies were produced by the English Subject Centre in 2003, and the English Subject Centre in collaboration with Council for College and University English in 2010. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since we last took stock of where we are as a discipline, and so much has changed. Most obviously, we have lost the English Subject Centre, one purpose of which was to provide ‘the English and Creative Writing community with information about itself’. English Studies is also now facing some tough challenges, and it is more important than ever to work together and to share good ideas. The three fields that make up English studies – English language/linguistics, English literature, and Creative Writing – retain their energy and creativity. With this in mind, and acknowledging the changed context, our survey will be different to the 2010 Report. We are not planning to survey heads of department, but to collect information about programmes already in the public domain, published on your university websites, although we will follow up with individual departments for more detail. And we are less interested at this moment in obtaining facts and figures – how many people take English, how many drop out – than in finding out who we are in 2020 and the ideas we can share. We want to take an overview of the state of the discipline, obtain case studies of student recruitment, of teaching (content, methods and assessment) and more, to help us think ahead to 2030. Our key question is this:  what does curriculum for English look like in 2020? What might it look like in 2030?

Project aims and objectives

The aim of this project is to provide an overview of the state of the discipline, which will inform the work of colleagues in UK HEIs, and shape the strategic direction of both the English Association and University English. This is an iterative project, and we are continually reviewing and modifying our methods and approaches via regular consultation with the project advisory group. In this current phase, we are working to collect data on a range of single- and joint-honour undergraduate degree courses in UK HEIs that are in the fields of English Literature, English Language and Linguistics, or Creative Writing. In particular, we are looking to investigate:

  • The structure of English degrees
  • Whether there is a discernible shift from period-based teaching to topic/challenge-led teaching taking place
  • Emerging topics, particularly on English Language/Linguistics and Creative Writing degrees
  • Teaching that is happening in the following key categories: climate change; employability; decolonisation and diversity (‘colonial’, ‘imperial’, ‘race’, ‘multicultural’/ ‘multiculturalism’, ‘diaspora’/ ‘diasporic’, ‘postcolonial’, ‘global’, ‘Empire’); cross-disciplinarity; the digital humanities
  • The extent to which English is paired/combined with other subjects
  • Current methods of teaching and assessment

Project team

The Steering Committee reports to the EA's Higher Education Committee, the EA's Board of Trustees, and the University English Executive.

Co-Chairs: Professor Jenny Richards (EA); Dr Alex Thomson (UE)

Members:

Georgina Bedwell (EA), Susan Bruce (UE), Bob Eaglestone (EA), David Ellis (UE), Becky Fisher (EA), Gail Marshall (UE), Anshu Mondal (EA), Andrea Macrae (EA), Katy Shaw (UE), Delia Da Sousa Correa (UE), Kathryn Walchester (UE), and Nigel Wood (UE).

 

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