Department of English History

Over a century of academic excellence

The Department of English at IU’s School of Liberal Arts traces its roots to 1916, when the first courses in English were offered at the Indianapolis campus of Indiana University. An English major duplicating the requirements of the degree at IU-Bloomington was authorized for the Indianapolis campus in 1968. With the creation of the IUPUI campus in 1969, the department began to develop a wider range of courses in composition, literature, creative writing, popular culture, and recent writing to help draw in new students.

In the early 1980s, in response to wide-ranging discussions within the discipline about what English should be, the department developed a vision of itself as not simply a site for literary study, but as a locus of inquiry into the many aspects of how language shapes and enhances human lives. Working at the cutting edge of theory and practice in English, the department shaped a faculty and a curriculum broad enough to respond to disciplinary calls for change, institutional calls to contribute to the general education responsibilities of the university, and community calls for graduates with expertise in literacy issues and the analysis and production of texts.

In the late 1980s, the department began a program in English as a Second Language (ESL)—now English for Academic Purposes (EAP)—to meet the demands of an increasingly internationalized campus. It also launched the University Writing Center to foster writing success for students across the campus. Film Studies was added as a program area in this period. In fall 1995, the first students in a new Masters degree program in English were admitted.

Our history has prepared us to thrive in the present and future. In addition to maintaining an excellent program in literary study characteristic of most universities, the department has created a writing program with a national reputation for innovation, built a vibrant creative writing program with strong ties to the community, used its linguistics program as a platform for the development of TESOL MA and certificate programs, developed an Intercultural Communication center, a University Writing Center, a thriving program in film studies, and provided extensive course offerings in support of IU’s general education requirements and English majors and minors. Join us as we write the next page in our story!