Rgument for the importance of American Literature in college english dept

500 or so word argument for the importance of american literature in college. Imagine that in the name of budget constraints,the college admin has decided to do away with a number of courses in the liberal arts curriculum. American literature is on the chopping block. Why should American lit, from civil war to the present, be part of the English Dept? What important concept does it teach? In a world where learning a skill that can be used directly in a job (think computer programing, video communications technology, etc.) is highly valued, what value does a course that focuses on poems and short stories have?
Writing programs are not under attack, as people seem to recognize the importance of being able to write. But how do we defend the study of literature? Is it just a pleasant indulgence that can be cut? Or is there something essential about literature that we can learn from studying it?

Essentially the teacher is asking 2 questions. Why is American Literature important in college and why is it important in general?