Literature is a sanctuary. No book has ever refused a reader. Great literature cannot exist if it is based on hate, fear, division, exclusion, scapegoating, or the worship of injustice and power. Writers cannot write if they are incapable of empathy, of imagining what it is that an other feels, thinks, and sees. Through reading and writing, through identifying with characters who are nothing like us, we who love words learn to love others.
As practitioners, scholars, and teachers of literature, we in English, Creative Writing, and Narrative Studies are committed to these literary principles, which manifest themselves outside of books through inclusion, diversity, hospitality, respect, dialogue, and love. We stand against any form of physical or verbal abuse, any use of language to stigmatize or demonize people, any assault on someone’s body or character, any threat to deport, report, or register someone because of their race, culture, national origin, religion, sexuality, gender, ideology, class, or being. We affirm that our department will protect all of its faculty and its students. We proclaim to our students what we know so well from our paradoxical experiences with literature: even if each of us is solitary as a reader or a writer, none of us is alone. Words bring us together.
We remain committed to the power of the story, the word, and the image. Storytelling has always been crucial to this and any other country. Those who seek to lead our country must persuade the people through their ability to tell a story about who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. The struggle over the direction of our country is also a contest over whose words will win and whose images will ignite the collective imagination. While the recent presidential election was and is controversial, it serves to remind us of the necessity of our vocation, of the crucial role that literature plays in shaping the imagination and in offering refuge. What we do in English, Creative Writing, and Narrative Studies matters. What we do, as teachers, writers, and scholars, is to assert, again and again, that you are not alone.
The Faculty and Staff of the Department of English