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Our motto—“Start here, go anywhere”— captures the unique value of an undergraduate or graduate English degree awarded by Arizona State University, one that can serve you in any art form, any discipline, and any profession. In fact, the degree can take you anywhere you wish to travel. The Department of English faculty is internationally renowned for innovative research and teaching and explores pan-world expression of the English language and its literatures, which span the global yet connect directly to the local. The skills of critical thinking, reading comprehension, and analytic expression cultivated in the degree are transferrable into any endeavor. In particular, such skills provide the foundation for creative problem-solving and cultivate individual and collective expression. The department takes as its purview not just historical positioned work, whether linguistic or textual, but includes all forms of expression and all modes of new media, whether analogical or digital. We emphasize writing—academic, creative, personal, public, and workplace—that explores difference reflectively and functionally. Our goal is to educate citizens who can think, read, write, and act in robust and significant ways to meet new challenges.
Professor Krista Ratcliffe, whose research has focused on feminism, critical race theory, and rhetoric and composition and who was the former head of Purdue's English department, was named chair of the Department of English at ASU beginning July 1, 2017.
Before her time at Purdue, Ratcliffe was chair of the English department at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In her administrative jobs as well as in her scholarship, Ratcliffe has continued to demonstrate a commitment to hearing others' viewpoints. She cultivates what she calls "rhetorical listening" in order to move ideas forward most harmoniously.
"Rhetorical listening," she explained, "is choosing to put your ideas alongside someone else's ideas in order to see where they may lead."
Ratcliffe assumed the role recently vacated by professor Aaron Baker, who was interim chair for academic year 2016-2017. Doris Warriner, an associate professor of English who has previously directed English's writing, rhetorics and literacies program, continues in an associate chair capacity focused on personnel. Bradley Ryner, an associate professor who has previously directed assessment efforts for English, fills the associate chair position focused on curriculum and instruction.
"I'm basically a collaborative person," Ratcliffe said. "I have a lot of faith in other people's intelligence and insights; consequently, I believe the best ideas and the best outcomes are generated collectively."
"What drew me to accept the job at ASU," she continued, "was the mission and the people. As for mission, I respect the dual focus on access and excellence ... and love the fact that these two goals are imagined at ASU as reciprocal, not opposing. I also like the innovative spirit at ASU — that is, that people are willing to try new things and that failure is imagined as simply a step toward success. As for people, I was impressed when I visited with how nice, smart, and energetic the people were in both the English department and in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences."