Department of English

Trees with autumn color on the west side of Andrews Hall
Imaginative Reasoning:
Read the World,
Write the Future

A Message from the Department of English

Grounded in our core values of affirming diversity, engaging with a broad array of communities based on empathetic understanding, pursuing social justice, fostering a sense of belonging, and instilling the desire for civic engagement, the Department of English unequivocally condemns all racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, and other hate speech and acts. Our department was among the first in the nation to offer gay and lesbian literature courses, and we are proud to have a long tradition of collaborating with and supporting the work done by UNL’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the LGBTQA Research Center; likewise, we proudly embrace our long tradition of closely working with the Institute for Ethnic Studies. We therefore reject any action that, intentionally or not, contributes to the creation of a climate of fear, hostility, and suspicion of our neighbors; and we condemn harassment of all kinds. Striving to offer an education in imaginative reasoning, the Department of English affirms the imagination as the capacity that is best equipped to help us think about the world in all its diversity. An agile imagination is crucial for our ability to envision the world we want to live in and then take action, based on a well-developed sense of ethics and social justice, to make that vision a reality. A core aspect of what we do is therefore also to imagine, and help others imagine, how people feel when they are attacked—verbally or physically—for who they are. This is why we unambiguously offer our support and solidarity to all students, staff, and faculty of color and other minorities on the University of Nebraska campus.

Support the Department of English

The English Department Development Fund supports a range of department programs and student needs: assistance to undergraduate and graduate students, writing and scholarship awards, visiting lecturers and writers, and special opportunities for the department and the community.


In accordance with our core values—including, importantly, affirming diversity, pursuing social justice, fostering a sense of belonging, and instilling a desire for civic engagement—the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln expresses its complete and unequivocal support for Husker athletes DaiShon Neal, Michael Rose-Ivey, and Mohamed Barry, who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem at the Northwestern game, and for all other athletes who choose to do so in the future.

Read President Bounds' Statement  Read Chancellor Green's Statement

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 inventive 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.

Our Core Values

  • Pursuing social justice
  • Affirming diversity
  • Engaging with a broad array of real and imagined communities based on empathetic understanding
  • Fostering a sense of belonging
  • Instilling a desire for civic engagement
Read the full mission statement

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