The New SFU English Program

After much student consultation, faculty input, and committee revisions, the SFU Department of English revised and updated its courses. We underwent this process to streamline our programs and revivify our academic offerings. We unveiled our new curriculum in fall 2021.

Among the most important things we took into account during this long process were the voices and concerns of our students. You’ve been honest with us about what has worked and what hasn’t worked about our major and our courses. You love the passion and commitment of our instructors, but you wonder why so many of our courses are bound up in “traditional” (read “rigidly Anglo-centric”) literary periods; you appreciate the breadth of our 100-level lectures, but you wish that more of our upper-level classes overtly addressed crucial issues like race, gender, and environmental justice; you are excited about our range of discussion-based 400-level seminars, but you’re frustrated at having to navigate so many prerequisites and area-requirements to access them; you want to take an English elective or two because you’re interested in literature, but haven’t been able to get in from outside the department.

We’ve heard you, and we’ve used what you’ve said to create a new and more flexible curriculum, one that we know will make our department a more vibrant and more inviting place to study. You can read more specifics about these changes here.

With all this change, though, we’ve also made sure to keep the things that make English the exhilerating field of study that it is. As it has for decades, studying English at SFU means coming to terms with the fundamental role that language and literature play in shaping our complex world. It means grappling with big issues—race, gender, sexuality, ethics, economics, politics, environment, religion, and more—and also recognizing the small details, the tiny turns of phrase, that give those issues nuance and texture. It means discussing, arguing, writing, and questioning; it means changing your mind and standing your ground. It means working closely with a faculty that has won more teaching awards than any other department, all while producing scores of scholarly books and articles, as well as award-winning fiction and poetry. And yes, it means reading—it means embracing the pleasures and challenges and difficult beauty of some of the finest literature ever written, from the sixth century all the way up to the present day.

Crucially, studying English also means engaging with—and preparing for—the world outside the university. Students in English develop analytical, communication, and cognitive skills that are singularly valuable on the job market, skills that pay dividends in a competitive environment. Every year, our graduates enter careers in law, publishing, social media, teaching, politics, urban planning, advertising, public relations, computer science, and more. And with the resources of our innovative Connect: The English Alumni Network, we’ll help you find a job when it’s all over.