The English Department at NCU was established in 1970. In its formative years, NCU English was structured around the teaching of language with readings in literature as with most foreign language departments at the time. By the end of the 1980s, professionalization in higher education was an emergent demand amidst political and economic liberalization. During this period, the department added a number of faculty with degrees in English and American languages, literature and theory, comparative literature, cultural and film studies. From the early 1990s through the beginning decades of the twenty-first century, this cohort of faculty implemented structural changes to the curriculum that pioneered articulation of research and pedagogy, with attention to academic training in thought and practices combining local concerns and global intellectual and language mediations.
As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, with English an official language or becoming one in major parts of Asia, our Department of English is seriously reconsidering the role of tertiary study of English and American languages and literatures in Taiwan and regionally. Our faculty research fields are diverse, yet many of us, especially the newest cohort (who have joined us in the last decade), focus on some aspect of the language, culture, and historical configurations that create English as a discipline in Asia. We are therefore building a pedagogy that can ask why English has the value that it does and how it has changed or could be changed. We think of this model as a general direction that other departments of English in the region could also take up. Many scholars have pointed out that the history of English literature and comparative literature, as we have inherited those fields today, parallels the history of the nation-state, and the two institutions (the modern nation state and humanities disciplinarity) are historically mutually constitutive. Beginning with the connection between English literature as a discipline and the nation state establishes a grounded interdisciplinary method. To study English literature, for example, we may also need to look at sources in Chinese and other languages and we may need to study history, sociology, philosophy, art and visual media, etc. The interdisciplinarity we envision and are developing is not simply an assemblage of different disciplines, but an integrated method that requires study across and collaboration between different fields and specializations.
Our recently hired professors demonstrate expertise in specialized fields in literature and culture, including Victorian literature, Asian American literature, animated film, and with our two newest hires, European medieval literatures and social philosophy; yet they are also trained in the most current, broadly interdisciplinary and comparative methods, including cultural studies, visual studies, critical race studies, and the historical study of affect and sexuality. With training that combines disciplinary expertise with interdisciplinary method, they strengthen our established research centers and other resources at the department and college levels.