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ERIC Number: ED560869
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 32
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1935-3510
The Decline of the English Department
Schalin, Jay
John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
Throughout much of the 20th century, English departments were the crown jewels of the humanities. Exposure to great literature was often considered essential for students expected to assume lead roles in business, law, government, and society. Today, English departments have lost their position at the center of the American university. Enrollments have diminished or remained stagnant during a period of tremendous growth for universities in general. The modern English department has also lost its sense of purpose. Superficial and trendy topics have replaced great works from the Western literary canon. Traditional scholarship has given way to postmodern critiques, in which great literature is viewed as a source of oppression and social control instead of revealing truth and exploring universal ideals. This report discusses the decline of English departments and investigates the changes in the discipline over time, employing both empirical and qualitative methods. It also examines today's pressures on English departments--from student demand for vocational and pop-culture offerings to politicization of the faculty. The report documents changes in English degree requirements, course offerings, faculty research, and enrollment.
John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. 353 East Six Forks Road Suite 150, Raleigh, NC 27609. Tel: 919-828-1400; Fax: 919-828-7455; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina