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Master's Program in Literature|Department of English

The English Master's Program in Literature

The Literature track of the Masters in English focuses on literature. We conceive the term "literature" broadly, to mean all texts that may be read and analyzed. As a result, "literature" includes authors like Shakespeare and Melville, but also film, television, new media, popular culture, and the visual arts. In this way, our graduate seminars allow students to receive a thorough theoretically-informed graduate education in traditional areas of concentration, as well as in more recently conceived topics. Whether M.A. students study Shakespeare or Scorsese, they emerge from our program with a cutting-edge understanding of the subjects that they study, because the professors teaching them are well-known, publishing scholars. Recent and upcoming graduate seminars include a Disney seminar that will include a research trip to Disneyland, as well as seminars on the relationship between texts and textiles from ancient Greek culture to twentieth-century labor history, on novels made into films, on American Modernism, on the American Gothic, on Early American captivity narratives, on the Graphic Novel, on four of Shakespeare's plays, on Milton's influence on the Romantic poets, and on the relations among art, literature, and music in the eighteenth century, among many other offerings.

Recent thesis projects completed by students in the literature program include an investigation of the construction of the “Saracen” in medieval romance, an analysis of the "cowboy grotesque" in the short stories of Annie Proulx, a discussion of the genres composing the narrative of John Merrick, known as the "Elephant Man," an analysis of the "Gothic Pastoral" in American poetry, and a study of the reception of films about Native Americans at the Wind River Reservation.

With the M.A. in hand, our students often choose to pursue the Ph.D. in English, and we are happy to mentor them through the demanding application process. While we cannot guarantee admission to a Ph.D. program, currently our M.A. students are pursuing the Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, at Emory University, at the University of Wisconsin, at Arizona State University, and Vanderbilt. Students who are now professors recently completed their Ph.D.s at Stanford University, the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois, the University of Pennsylvania, among other first-rate research institutions. Still other former students make good livings in the public policy sector, as professors at community colleges, as technical writers and editors, in publishing, and in education. Many M.A. students also choose to continue on to law school, where they excel, or to business school, where they also find that their research and communications skills are in demand.

Frequently asked questions


For application information, click here.

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