The Penn Department of English announced Sunday that it will form a working group to “declare and defend [its] departmental mission in the current political climate” following the Nov. 8 presidential election.
The announcement comes in the wake of a Dec. 1 department-wide town hall meeting. In the week following that meeting, students removed a large portrait of William Shakespeare from the Fisher-Bennett Hall entryway and replaced it with a portrait of black and feminist writer Audre Lorde.
An email from English Department Chair Jed Esty on Dec. 8 expressed the department’s desire to “initiate an open and collaborative conversation among students, faculty, and employees in English to come up with ideas for that public space.”
The cross-departmental working group will consist of two faculty members, two graduate students, and two undergraduates.
A statement from Etsy named four areas of priority for the the group: workshops on sexual and gender harassment and assault for faculty, improved communication about confidential reporting channels for instances of harassment, events designed to create a more involved community of faculty and undergraduates, and a new cross-departmental working group that will address issues raised at the town hall.
Application for, and selection of, the six-member group will begin at the start of the spring semester in January.