Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2003





Publication Title

ADE Bulletin


Those of us who teach in small undergraduate English departments (say, with fewer than twenty faculty members) recognize that the shape of the curriculum is determined in large measure by the interest and expertise of the departments' teachers. Larger departments can work from a conceptual template of an ideal curriculum to fill holes in the curriculum by hiring specialized personnel; big departments may have three or four scholars working in a single area or historical period or using similar critical methods. Dickinson College's English department, with fifteen full-time teaching faculty members, is just small enough to demand that in faculty members develop expertise in "two and a half" subject areas. We do not hire generalists, but we can't afford the kind of narrow specialization that may define professionalism at a larger university. Since the college expects us all to teach three courses every semester and to keep active as publishing scholars, our department encourages course development that nourishes our scholarly interests. This practice expands the range of courses we can teach with integrity---a quality I define as more substantial than amateur enthusiasm--and offers a practical platform for scholarship in progress. At Dickinson, the emphasis on creating new courses has been welcomed by department faculty members, who have developed 119 new course topics since 1995. (Since our teaching load is relatively heavy for a selective liberal arts college but light compared with many small undergraduate departments, I imagine that finding economies of energy in the balance of teaching and publishing is a common pursuit for many department chairs.) The bedrock assumption of my article is that in most small departments, which are conditioned to shaping the curriculum with the available resources, the people in a department are its curricular future.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit ADE's (Association of Departments of English) Website.

© 2003 by The Association of Departments of English