Save Linguistics at the University of Leicester

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Dear Colleagues,

You may be aware that the Executive Committee at the University of Leicester has announced on 18 January 2021 a series of redundancies across the University. Currently, 7 colleagues in English are at direct threat of redundancy (4 in Language and Linguistics and 3 in Medieval Literature). The reasoning and justification that were given are:

“The aim of our proposals are to offer a suite of undergraduate degrees that provide modules which students expect of an English degree, as well as a range of modules which are excitingly innovative and thematically driven: a chronological literary history, a selection of modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity and contribute to a decolonised curriculum.

The proposed change is to re-focus and strengthen English by closing English Language and Linguistics (which includes the BA English with English Language and the MA in English Language & Linguistics), to cease teaching Medieval Literature and reduce the size of Early Modern Literature, and to develop new employability modules in education, publishing and the creative industries”. 

As Linguists from around the world and in support of our Language and Linguistics colleagues at the University of Leicester, we wish to make it clear that modules on English Language and Linguistics do cover race, ethnicity, sexuality, diversity and a decolonised curriculum and we condemn the implication that they do not. We also do not agree that Linguistics modules do not contribute to employability and that students are not interested in these topics. The proposal by the University of Leicester has already had a negative impact on undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students and on the culture of learning and research within English as a whole.

We are kindly asking you to support our Language and Linguistics colleagues and to show the importance of studying English Language and Linguistics and its contribution to critical issues in wider society and also as part of an English Degree. Please sign this petition which has been set up by esteemed colleagues from around the world who are opposed to the suggested proposal by the University of Leicester.

If you like, you may also write a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nishan Canagarajah, ( explaining the importance of studying the English language as part of an English studies degree and the integral role such modules play in ensuring a decolonised curriculum.