The study of English literature at Cornell had its beginnings with the encouragement of the university's first president, Andrew Dickson White, who fostered the new discipline at a time in the nineteenth century when classical authors were the primary focus of academic study. Today the Cornell English Department retains the pluralistic ideals of the university's founders, but in the context of a discipline that is constantly evolving. Within the Department, ongoing debates about the role of critical theory or cultural studies, the status of popular culture, the relevance of film studies, or the definition of the words "English" and "literature" themselves, have led to new understandings of the discipline. Meanwhile, outside the Department, the growth of interdisciplinary work has led to a range of connections across the humanities at Cornell, and has given the English Department a central role in the discussion of the future of the humanities, in academia and in society at large.

For more information, go to Cornell University Department of English Home Page.

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