English Department undergoes name and staffing changes

The department will now be known as the ‘Literature and Writing Department,’ intended to reflect the department’s expanding global focus.


Amanda Perry, Contributing Writer

In November 2021, an email went out to students and faculty announcing the English Department was undergoing a name change. Department Chair Sheldon George said he was pleased to share the faculty’s decision to alter the English Department’s title to the ‘Department of Literature and Writing’.

The English Department has historically offered two majorsLiterature and Creative Writingand curriculum does not solely focus on British and Anglo-American works, as the original title may have implied. 

There have been many efforts underway in the past two years to update the department’s curriculum and hire more professors, said George. The major requirements were changed in 2020, and Professor Farooz Rather joined their team in fall 2021 to help boost the department’s creative writing opportunities. 

According to George’s email announcement, “names make a statement and define an identity” and the title of ‘English Department’ no longer suited the department’s current goals. 

Faculty aims to de-center the historically dominant English/British contexts within academia and “cultivate students who hold sophisticated understandings of diverse bodies of literature, from works by African American, Native American and Latinx authors to writings from Britain and postcolonial locations in the global south.” This name change comes as a culmination of years of reflection and growth, said George. 

Multiple students disclosed to the Voice that while they are supportive of the name change and department updates, the recent departures of Professors Audrey Golden and Dr. Lydia Fash have left them shocked. Both professors left Simmons at the end of the fall 2021 semester. The exit of Fash and Golden are unrelated to the departmental name change. 

Senior English major Sara Getman reflected that when she arrived at Simmons in 2018, the entire department was filled with professors, creating a lively and inviting environment. 

Getman expressed worry about the department’s future, saying in an email that “with the departure of Fash and Golden, it feels barren.” Getman questioned who will fill the open positions. 

When asked about the recent departures from the department, George shared that while the department is saddened by the loss of Golden and Fash, four highly qualified faculty members have temporarily joined their team to teach spring courses. 

George shared that the department has also begun a global search to fill Professor Golden’s position and hopes to have a full-time hire by fall 2022. They will then look into finding a replacement for Professor Fash.

George wants to reiterate that while change is inevitable, the stability of the Literature and Writing program has not been impacted. The breadth and rigor of the department’s courses remain the same as they continue to adapt to the constantly evolving humanities field.