Late engagement

February 28, 2003

Congratulations to Alan Sinfield ("Reader you are not welcome", THES , February 14). Nearly three years after the subject benchmarking statement for English was written, he got around to reading it - but not carefully enough.

The benchmarking group was not "set up" by the Council for College and University English but by the Quality Assurance Agency. It was drawn from a mix of institutions, and the statement went through wide consultation with all university English departments. Its aim is not to regulate but to articulate principles that encompass diverse pedagogical approaches and intellectual emphases.

University English is not just about literature but also about language. As for our "failure of imaginative sympathy", we ask students to "engage imaginatively in the process of reading". Is it too much to ask Sinfield to do the same?

Judy Simons
Chair, Subject Benchmark
Group for English

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