After renewed advocacy and a department vote, the Board of Trustees approved the second English department name change in just over two months — trailblazing from the Department of Literatures in English to the Department of English: Get Lit.
“We wanted to diversify our department, and we soon realized that our current name was not inclusive enough,” said Wendy Hemphries, the chair of the new English: get lit department. “Ostensibly, the word ‘literature’ narrows our range of humanistic inquiry, and ‘lit’ more aptly embraces the shift in academia toward the study of cannabis and other postmodern subjects.”
The name change approval comes just weeks after the New York State Legislature voted to legalize recreational marijuana. But according to some English faculty, the name change had been brewing at Cornell since March 13, 2020 — when a group of the department’s more eco-critically inclined professors gathered to blow off steam in the Nabokov Lounge in the wake of the campus shutdown.
Director of Undergraduate Studies Prof. Mary Jane Eyre, English: get lit, told The Sun she was surprised how many faculty embraced this proposal, which the department voted to approve at the first faculty meeting after the state legalized cannabis in late March.
Eyre said the name change has given her a boost of optimism, as the department looks to welcome the latest trends in English scholarship more broadly.
“This change is a result of an ongoing shift in literary study in this department — and others across the country — to focus on the true meaning of ‘lit,’” Eyre said.
Eyre added that she is a strong proponent of the change and is most excited for the new accompanying curriculum — which includes classics such as Catcher in the High, Bong of Solomon, All Quiet on the Western Blunt, Much A-Doobie About Nothing and Ganja With the Wind.
Department graduate students are also eagerly anticipating much chiller first-year writing seminars and discussion sections, encouraging their students to be one with the literature.
“This was a really hard-fought win,” Prof. T. H. Collins, English: get lit, told The Sun, while smoking a blunt on Libe Slope. “I’ve already started celebrating.”
This piece is part of The Sun’s April 20 joke issue series. For more, visit https://cornellsun.com/category/four-twenty/twentyone/.