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Course Structure

Our English MA course offerings are structured so that students:

  • Complete ten seminar-style courses (30 credits), including the final project as one of these courses.
  • Complete a self-defined final project, providing an advanced capstone experience.
  • Select a concentration (see below), providing focus and depth to coursework.
  • Participate in small (capped at 15 students), graduate-student-only seminars that focus on student discussion, research, and writing.
  • Take courses in the late afternoon and evening, allowing students to work or participate in assistantships during the day.
  • Take courses on a full- or part-time schedule, with two courses (6 credits) being considered a full-time student.

Course Goals

The English MA Program's courses feature:

  • A focus on the close reading of British, American, and global texts, including texts produced by both canonical and non-canonical writers.
  • An interest in reexamining the boundaries and relationships between different forms and uses of language, including literary, creative, professional, and academic writing.
  • An emphasis on understanding current theoretical approaches to texts, the historical and cultural positioning of texts, and the expansion of "texts" to include visual and material forms.
  • An exploration of the reading, writing, and research produced by graduate students, with a genuine interest in students' development as critical and creative thinkers.
  • A desire to create a challenging yet supportive environment that features seminar discussions and presentations, careful responses to students' writing, and workshops for creative writers.

Courses and Concentrations

Each student sequences his or her courses to create a concentration in literature, composition, or creative writing. A student can combine concentrations and is encouraged to explore courses outside of his or her concentration. Coursework prepares a student for his or her final project, which performs original research and writing informed by the selected concentration.

Courses in the literature concentration focus on particular writers (William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison); periods (Medieval, Modern) or redefinitions of those periods ("Refiguring the American Renaissance"); genres and forms (Poetry, Memoir, Graphic Novels); and categories outside those traditional rubrics ("Working Class Literature"). These courses draw on a variety of critical approaches, including feminist theory and cultural criticism.

Informed by "History of the Book" studies, annual courses feature hands-on rare books and manuscript work at area libraries. Many courses reflect the department's interest in pedagogy ("The Teaching of Literature").

Courses in the composition concentration examine composition theory, the history of composition studies, rhetorical theory, the composing process, composition research, linguistics, and literacy. Composition pedagogy is central to the department's offerings ("The Teaching of Composition," "Teaching English with Technology"). Additional courses focus on students' personal and professional writing for different audiences and purposes: essay writing, autobiographical writing, and writing for the public.

Courses in the creative writing concentration use the intensive reading of literature (poetry, fiction, works in translation) as a basis for the writing of original poetry or fiction, or for translation. Advanced workshop courses allow students to develop, share, critique, and revise their original work. Students can take seminars offered by our MFA program; these feature topics such as literary editing and publishing.

Several courses in theory, linguistics, new genres, and pedagogy are "cross-over" courses and can be counted towards different concentrations. These courses investigate influential current theory, the history and structure of the English language, and new developments in literary and non-literary textual forms.