Introduction: Futures for English Studies
English Studies, the term we use to cover English language, literature and creative writing, is a capacious subject that, over the years, has meant a variety of different things to different people, depending on cultural tradition and geographical context. Although generally perceived as a modern subject that only entered in the academy in the late nineteenth century (or even the early twentieth century, depending on how ‘arrival’ is judged), claims are sometimes made for ancient lineage through the links with rhetoric, links that are not merely of historical importance for, as we shall see at several points throughout this book, rhetoric continues to be a potent concept in discussions of current and future directions for the discipline. Meanwhile, in today’s globalised world, as social and academic landscapes undergo rapid changes, the fundamental position of the English language in the daily existence of millions of people around the world is effecting large-scale shifts in what is meant by ‘English Studies’ worldwide. At the time of writing, the British Council has just launched the world’s largest (so far) massive open online course, or MOOC, on ‘Techniques for English Language Tests’, with close on 400,000 students in over 150 countries.1 This is just one, highly specialised example of changing facets of English Studies as a discipline in the modern higher education sector.
KeywordsEnglish Study Creative Writing Historical Importance Digital Humanity Massive Open Online
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