An Education in Imaginative Reasoning
Central to the core mission of the Department of English is imaginative reasoning: the ability to think hypothetically about the world in all its diversity—the past, present, and future; the local and the global—in order to engage critically with social and political phenomena, envision what is possible, and dream up audacious solutions to seemingly insoluble problems. Imaginative reasoning is the tool that enables us to create a rupture in the seemingly smooth flow of daily information by helping us re-frame how we look at the world—at ourselves and others, as well as at institutional structures and social, economic, and political constraints. At a time when the logic of the global marketplace impresses upon us the sense that only the here and now—the present—matters, we hold that we must equip our students with the tools they need to respond to this hyper-presentism, to be more empowered in their daily lives as they face the demands foisted on us all by the dynamics of neoliberal capitalism and globalization. We affirm a model of innovation grounded in a critical engagement with tradition and predicated on a logic of creative reinvestigation and repetition in order to understand and act upon the present in new ways. Imaginative reasoning fosters our capacity to think otherwise, to speculate about how things could be, to envision how social and private life might look if imagined alternatives were realized. By educating students in multiple literacies—the analysis of literature and moving images, the creative and rhetorical production of texts, and the critically informed development of digital environments—we offer the intellectual skills they need to intervene actively in political, civic, and cultural affairs.