MA in English - Curriculum

Online Master of Arts in English Curriculum Expands Language and Literary Knowledge

The online Master of Arts in English curriculum focuses on the study of traditional and nontraditional literature and is designed to strengthen your skills in the critical analysis of literature. If you have an undergraduate degree in English or literature, you will explore English language and literary theory at a deeper level. If you have an undergraduate degree in another area, your MA in English degree curriculum may vary slightly but will still include the same number of credits.

MA in English Degree Curriculum - Intensive Literature and Critical Analysis Study

The 12-course (36-credit) online Master of Arts in English curriculum includes seven core courses and four electives in American, British and new-traditions literature. The program culminates in an English capstone course that offers the option of a master’s thesis, portfolio or comprehensive exam.  This program enables you to tailor your MA in English degree to your interests and select the type of capstone course that works best for you.  All courses are three credits.

Online MA English Degree Courses

ENG-550: Graduate Studies in English Language
This course is an introduction to the following topics in English linguistics: history of English, etymology, vocabulary 'morphology', phonology, dictionaries, syntax, semantics, dialects, discourse analysis, and child language acquisition. The course is designed for students who want to learn about the English language as preparation for teaching, or becoming better writers, or for studying literature. Students will have the opportunity to research, write about, and present on a linguistic topic of individual interest, such as the language of advertising or propaganda.
ENG-555: Composition Theory & Teaching of Writing
Students in this course will study key histories, theories, and technologies on which we ground composition pedagogies. They will research, discuss, and write about how theoretical concepts impact the teaching of writing; they will reflect on, develop, and share their own pedagogical practices.
LIT-500: Graduate Studies in Literary Theory
This course is an introduction to the major schools of contemporary literary theory, and an examination of principal exponents of these theories. The student will become familiar with the most important features of psychoanalytic criticism, Marxism and feminism and examine the meaning of structuralism and post-structuralism. In addition, the course affords an opportunity to practice applying the theories to specific literary texts.
LIT-502: Topics in American Literature
This course traces the development of American literature from the nation's founding to the late Twentieth Century. Readings may include classics by Bradford, Bradstreet, Wheatly, Crevecoeur, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, Douglass, James, Crane, Chopin, Gilman, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hurston, O'Connor, Pynchon, Major, Morrison, Cisneros, and Alexie among others. Different authors are highlighted in each term, and all readings are situated within specific historical, cultural, philosophical, political, and literary contexts.
LIT-503: Topics in British Literature
This course examines major prose and poetry of English writers from the Anglo-Saxon period to the late Twentieth Century. Readings may include classics by Chaucer, Spencer, Milton, Shakespeare, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Eliot, Bronte, Browning, Hardy, Woolf, Barnes, Barry, and Mieville among others. Different authors are highlighted in each term, and all readings are situated within specific historical, cultural, philosophical, political, and literary contexts.
LIT-652: Graduate Seminar in Global Literature
This course uses a thematic approach to the works from many literary traditions outside British and American. Specific selections and authors vary each term according to the theme. This is an upper-level course involving close reading, analysis and writing in seminar format.

Select One of the Following:

LIT-650: Graduate Seminar in American Literature
This course uses a thematic approach to explore works by American writers. The specific selections and authors vary each term according to the theme. This is an upper-level course involving close reading, analysis and writing in seminar format.
LIT-651: Graduate Seminar in British Literature
This course uses a thematic approach to explore works of British writers. The specific selections and authors vary each term according to the theme. This is an upper-level course involving close reading, analysis and writing in a seminar format.

Select one American Literature course:

LIT-512: Graduate Studies in Early American Literature
While the authors and texts studied in the course may vary, the readings will cover the historical period from 1620, with the settlement of Plymouth Plantation, through the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the early days of the new Republic. Although there may be some attention to the literature of early discovery, the emphasis will be on literary texts of major historical interest and on authors who pursued the American Dream of economic, religious, political and artistic freedom.
LIT-513: Graduate Studies in the American Renaissance
While the authors and texts studied in the course may vary, this course examines literature from the early 1800s to 1865, the conclusion of the Civil War. During this period, American literature developed a home-grown Romanticism influenced by European intellectual and aesthetic movements, as well as a new cultural sensibility of its own. Authors may include Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Douglass, Dickinson, and the latter-day transcendentalism of Whitman.
LIT-514: Graduate Studies in American Realism and Naturalism
While the authors and texts studied in this course may vary, this course will focus on the American literature between 1865-1914, with the progression of literary culture from Romanticism to Realism and Naturalism towards Modernism. Students will read literature by authors who were responding to radical shifts in America after the Civil War, including Reconstruction, the rise of industrialism, and the new theories of evolution. Authors may include Twain, James, Chesnutt, London, Dreiser, Wharton, Cather, and Anderson, as well as poets of the early twentieth century.
LIT-515: Graduate Studies in 20th Century American Literature
This course will explore literature by major American writers, from the early 20th century to the present. Students will read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays about the major literary, cultural, and political events during the 20th century, including the wars, the Beat and counterculture movements, the Civil Rights and women's movements, and post 9/11 cultural shifts. We will proceed chronologically, beginning with poetry about World War I and ending with post-modern literature about contemporary issues such as race, religion, technology, and war.
LIT-555: American Modernism
Using a thematic approach, this course explores important aspects of literary modernism as it pertains to the American historical, social, technological, intellectual, and political experience between the end of World War I and the 1950s. The course immerses students in modernism via fiction, poetry, and critical essays by major American authors and poets of the period. It also asks students to identify and articulate the relationship between race, gender, regional perspectives, and ethnicity in the context of modernist American literature.

Select one pre-1800 British Literature course:

LIT-506: Graduate Studies in Medieval Literature
This course will focus on literature written in England during the Old and Middle English period (approximately 500-1485 CE). We will spend about half the course on Old English literature and half on Middle English literature.
LIT-507: Graduate Studies in Renaissance and Restoration Literature
This course surveys British Literature from the 16th and 17th centuries, a period renowned for the variety and originality of its writers, which left a lasting mark on subsequent English literature. Students will be introduced to central ideas and writers of the English Reformation, English Revolution, and the Restoration of the monarchy. Renaissance authors studied may include More, Marlowe, Elizabeth I, Jonson, Donne, and Webster, along with Shakespeare and Spenser. Writers of the Revolution and Restoration may include Herrick, Marvell, Milton, Dryden, Behn, and Wycherley. Students will encounter Renaissance and Restoration drama, epic poetry, the sonnet, along with early experiments in prose fiction.
LIT-508: Graduate Studies in 18th Century British Literature
This course surveys the literature of the 'long 18th century,' from the Restoration to the beginning of Romanticism, and studies developments in English literature such as the novel, the essay, satire, journalism, and popular theatre. Authors studied may include Congreve, Defoe, Swift, Pope, Johnson, Fielding, Smollett, and Austen. This course may also cover developments in the visual arts. Themes of the course will vary, but may include civil liberty, sexuality and gender, colonialism, city and country, and the enlightenment movement.
LIT-519: Graduate Studies in Shakespeare
Students will study selected Shakespearian comedies, tragedies and chronicle plays. The course also provides the students with a general overview of the Elizabethan era and the world in which Shakespeare lived and worked.

Select one post-1800 British Literature course:

LIT-509: Graduate Studies in Romantic Literature
The Romantic Era in Britain, while short, was an intense and influential literary period. In this course we will read poetry, fiction, and nonfiction responding to shaping events such as the French Revolution and its aftermath, the British abolition of slavery, and industrialization. We will read authors such as Wordsworth, Keats, Austen, Blake, Wollstonecraft, Shelley, and Byron.
LIT-510: Graduate Studies in Victorian Literature
Nineteenth-century Britain experienced tremendous change in politics, economics, philosophy, art and literature. It was a century of industrialization, empire-building, new discoveries, and social revolution. This course studies representative selections from major poets and prose writers, and explores the social, political, and intellectual changes reflected in the literature of the Victorian period. Authors may include Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Browning, Barrett Browning, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Wilde.
LIT-511: Graduate Studies in Modern British Literature
This course will explore the modernist movement in 20th century British fiction through the works of three of its most prominent practitioners James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf, as well as selected works by other writers. The course will examine the birth of the modern aesthetic in literature not only as a response to the alienation and despair resulting from World War I but also as a reaction to the enormous impact made by the ideas of such thinkers as Darwin, Freud, Marx and Nietzsche. Various modernist writing techniques, including stream-of-consciousness, episodic narrative and radical experimentation with punctuation, will also be studied.

Select one alternative perspective / new traditions course:

LIT-528: Graduate Studies in Multi-Ethnic Literature
Since the beginnings of American literature, writers have been concerned with defining and creating American identity through their art. Since the 1960s, during and after the Civil Rights movement, numerous writers have defined their American identity in relation to specific ethnic identities, writing works that explore how dual or multiple cultural identities coexist within themselves and within American culture, sorting through the stories they've heard and created about who they are. In this course, we will read fiction, poetry, and essays by twentieth-century American authors who identify with African American, Native American, Asian American, Jewish, Latino and Chicano heritages. In addition to race and ethnicity, we will discuss how class, native language, religion, gender, sexuality, and history figure into these writers' images of an American self and community.
LIT-530: Graduate Studies in Gender and Text
This course explores a variety of texts written since 1945 by women, including authors such as Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Marilyn Robinson and Adrienne Rich. Students will analyze how race, sexuality, class, nationality, motherhood and other factors influence writers' notions of gender. In addition to immersing students in contemporary women's literature, this course aims to provide students with a window into the history, politics and culture of post-1945 America, a period which saw the Cold War, the 'second wave' and the 'third wave' of American feminism, as well as the in intellectual theories that helped illuminate literature about gender past and present.
LIT-545: Graduate Studies Postcolonial Encounters
Postcolonial Encounters focuses on the interdisciplinary aspects of literatures that have been historically silenced by the mechanisms of the colonial powers. This course will attempt to retrieve from the margins those voices that Gayatri Spivak (following Antonio Gramsci) has called 'subaltern.' As such, our task will be to theorize the notions of power and powerlessness, margin an periphery, first and third world, nationality, race, identity, and globalization via the close readings of various postcolonial texts.
LIT-550: Graduate Studies in the Black Literary Tradition
This course offers an overview of African-American literature, with glimpses into African and Caribbean literature. Beginning around 1845 with Frederick Douglass' Narrative, students will read from various literary genres, including slave narratives, poetry, short stories, fiction and plays that illuminate both the history of African America and changing ideas of race. Students will conduct ongoing independent research, which they will present to the class, on the major literacy and historical periods we cover, including the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and early 1930s, the civil rights movement(s), the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and early 1970s and the decades following. Reading works by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Zora Neale Thurston, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison, and Ishmael Reed, among others, will enable us to analyze how sexuality, gender, class and nationality influence various writers' definitions of race and ethnicity.


LIT-690: Master of Arts in English Capstone
Students register for this course in their final term, as a culmination of their work in the program. They satisfy the requirement by completing a thesis, submitting a portfolio of their literary-critical writing along with a retrospective evaluative essay, or passing an examination on English and American Literature.
Completed 30 credits in the program

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