ALS professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Jesse Alemán, was invited to speak with Harvard graduate students at their Race and Ethnicity Colloquium on the state graduate education in the Humanities in relation to the pandemic, political climate, and racial justice. His address, “The Ends of English,” offered a critique of English studies that’s stubborn to change, stunned by questions of race, and stuck in curricular and research methodologies that neither serve diverse student bodies nor adequately prepare graduate students to face the challenges of the job market. Stemming in part from his forthcoming piece in PMLA (titled “The End of English”), Alemán’s talk and the discussion that followed questioned the value of English literary studies if it doesn’t set out to address and transform the cultures of racism that plague the field, its everyday pedagogical and departmental practices, and the political cultures of the day. He also maintained that Humanities graduate students are currently poised to make English studies work toward alternative, socially progressive ends within and outside of the profession but first need standard English literary programming, methodologies, and training to come to an end.
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