The academic field of English studies, also known as just English, is taught in primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions in English-speaking nations. It should not be confused with English taught as a foreign language, which is a separate academic discipline. An Anglicist is a specialist in English studies. The field of study entails the examination and study of works of English literature. Even though English-language literature from any country may be studied and local or national literature is typically prioritized in any given country, the majority of the literature studied in English studies is from Britain, the United States, and Ireland. English composition also includes writing essays, short stories, and poetry.
English sociolinguistics includes discourse analysis of written and spoken texts in the English language, the history of the English language, English language learning and instruction, and the study of the World of English. English language arts include the study of grammar, usage, and style. The study of English linguistics, including its syntax, morphology, phonetics, and phonology, is typically recognized as a separate academic field and taught in linguistics departments.
One reason for the North American Modern Language Association (MLA)’s separation into two sections is the disciplinary gap between a dominating literature or usage orientation. The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) structure and activities, for instance, demonstrate how linguistics is frequently covered by the same department in institutions in non-English speaking nations.
It is typical for English departments to offer courses and scholarships in the following fields: the English language, literature (including literary criticism and literary theory), public speaking and speech-writing, rhetoric, composition studies, creative writing, philology and etymology, journalism, poetry, publishing, literacy, area studies (especially American studies), the philosophy of language, theater and play-writing, screenwriting, communication studies, technical communication, and computer science. The majority of English-speaking nations have other departments, including foreign language departments, where materials written in other languages are studied at all educational levels.
History of English Studies
The second half of the nineteenth century marks the beginning of the history of English studies at the modern university in Europe and America. English studies originally covered a wide range of topics, including oratory, grammar and rhetorical analysis, poetry composition, and literature appreciation—mostly works by English authors, as American literature and language studies were only introduced in the 20th century. English philology, a highly positivistic and historically focused method of reading pre-modern texts, rose to prominence in Germany and several other European nations, but English-speaking nations quickly distanced themselves from philological paradigms after World War I.
After going through this process, English departments tended to refocus their efforts on different types of writing instruction (creative, professional, and critical), as well as the interpretation of literary texts, and teacher education in English recovered from the neglect it had experienced due to more science-oriented paradigms. English departments in native-speaking nations are currently re-evaluating their roles as the discipline’s sole stewards because English is becoming less and less the “property” of native speakers and must be shared with the millions of speakers and authors from other nations for whom it is a vital tool for communication and artistic expression.
In the nineteenth century, English literature started to be studied in French universities as a form of foreign (comparative) literature. At the College de France, a chair of foreign literature was created in 1841. English was initially taught separately from other languages and literature at the Universities of Lille and Lyon, and at the Sorbonne only afterwards.
The earliest significant concentrations of English study in France were at these three universities. Auguste Angellier appears to have been the first English studies lecturer and later professor. After spending several years instructing French in England in the 1860s and 1870s, he started working at the University of Lille as a lecturer in English studies in 1881 and was promoted to professor of English in 1893. In France nowadays, English courses in colleges place a high value on literature, culture, linguistics, and spoken and written language.
The first half of the 1970s saw an increase in the popularity of the English major at American colleges. To improve their writing, it gave pupils the chance to enhance their analytical reading and critical thinking skills. It also concentrated on rhetorical and persuasive expression exercises, which had previously only been covered in classical studies courses and were only accessible to a very small number of students due to language obstacles and a lack of professors who could actively engage students in the humanities.
The English major gained popularity outside of the United States in the second half of the 19th century, a period when religious beliefs were challenged by scientific advancements (it originated in Scotland and spread to the English-speaking world). The English Major thus allowed students to draw moral, ethical, and philosophical qualities and meanings of older studies from a richer and broader source of literature than that of the ancient Greek and Latin classics. Literature was thought to act as a replacement for religion in the retention and advancement of culture.
Since 2000, there have been concerns raised concerning the precise role that English departments play in modern American colleges and universities. Those academic units still primarily focusing on the printed book and the traditional division in historical periods and national literature and neglecting allegedly non-theoretical areas such as professional writing, composition, and multimodal communication face a challenge due to the lack of a clearly defined disciplinary identity and the increasingly utilitarian goals in American society.