University of Portland Bulletin 2021-2022


Lars Larson, Ph.D., chair

Faculty: Brassard, Buck-Perry, Hannon, Hersh, Hiro, McDonald, Orr, Swidzinski, Weiger

The mission of the English program at the University of Portland is to guide practice in critical reading and competent writing for all levels of University students. In the courses provided for the University’s liberal arts core, as well as in those of its own major and minor, the English program increases the breadth and depth of each student’s literary experience, the development of appropriate reading and writing skills, the understanding of the humane values at the center of literary study, and the appreciation of the power and pleasure of literature.

English faculty members engage the intellects and imaginations of their students through careful attention to the reading and writing of literature, its context, and its art. In addition to their classroom teaching, faculty strive to model the personal and ethical qualities inherent in the University’s mission, including the discipline and commitment necessary for scholarly research and creative expression. They are committed to student-centered instruction, which develops the skills and confidence English majors need to be successful in graduate programs, as well as in a variety of careers, including teaching, law, publishing, and business.

The department offers an English major and minor and a writing minor. The English program offers courses in British, American, and trans-national literatures in English, and in academic and creative writing. Prospective English majors and minors should consult with the department chair about designing their programs of study.

Learning outcomes for English Majors

English graduates of the University of Portland should be able to:

  1. Read a range of literature in English and exhibit a knowledge of genres, and literary history.
    1. Recognize the formal features that distinguish literary prose, verse, drama, and other media.
    2. Recognize and distinguish major genres and sub-genres of literature.
    3. Develop familiarity with major historical periods and movements, and the influence of previous trends and styles on later authors and texts.
  2. Read texts closely and think critically, with openness, confidence, and acuity – understanding that literary texts are complex and resist simple interpretation.
    1. Recognize what texts communicate and how they do so.
    2. Identify significant patterns in the way a textual passage is constructed.
    3. Extrapolate the larger implications (social, philosophical, ethical, argumentative) of these patterns.
    4. Connect a passage’s formal structure and thematic content with the text as a whole.
  3. Write with clarity and compose well-argued essays.
    1. Practice writing as a process.
    2. Develop focused, compelling, and original arguments about literary texts.
    3. Present these arguments in essays marked by conceptual coherence, correct usage, and a fresh writing style.
  4. Know how to conduct productive research in literary studies that contributes to a critical conversation.
    1. Use bibliographic tools to find primary and secondary source material.
    2. Employ secondary source material in the process of developing an original argument.
    3. Engage with the critical conversation surrounding a paper’s main topic.
  5. Experience literature as a powerful way of knowing about cultures and the lived life.
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of imaginative literature as an alternative way of studying the universe and the human condition beyond what is available in the sciences and social sciences.
    2. Discern how the structures, language, characters, and actions in literary texts speak to fundamental life questions and today's world.