The English department recognizes diversity as an imperative. Because diverse identities and ideas shape in complex ways the literary traditions we seek to understand and to teach, we cannot do justice to the texts we read without foregrounding diversity itself. We define diversity broadly, as the presence of difference among faculty and students and within course content, especially but not limited to race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, national origin, sex, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, body style, age, ability, religious affiliation, and legal status.
Our approach builds upon the most influential developments in literary criticism in the last fifty years, which have featured a dramatic expansion of the literary canon beyond white male authors, the rise of multifaceted structures of analysis based upon evolving theories of identity and difference, and special attention to the history of subordinated subjects within national literatures. Diversity and its counterpart, inclusion, constitute an ethos and a set of principles that we can use to organize our teaching and our work with one another. Inclusion requires not merely that differences be present, but that we affirm those differences and oppose systems of oppression based on them. Rather than a goal to be achieved, we see diversity and inclusion as a process in which we must all be engaged. We can expect to make mistakes in our work to cultivate diversity, and we acknowledge that success requires us to remain committed to learning from each other and from our students. While we see demographic statistics—about our faculty, our students, and the authors and topics covered in our courses—as useful tools for measuring diversity, we also recognize that our commitment to diversity must go beyond them.