Master of Arts Program, Literature Option
|Overview ¦ Coursework ¦ Language Requirement ¦ Master's Paper ¦ Faculty ¦ Professional Opportunities|
Our M.A. program offers you the opportunity to explore the formal, historical, cultural, and theoretical dimensions of diverse forms of the written word. As a student in our program, you will develop a deeper understanding of canonical and innovative approaches to literature in English, including both such nationally-defined traditions as British and American literatures, and traditions organized around other principles, such as Postcolonial or African American literatures. Organized to reflect the changing profession of literary study--its history, its methodologies, and its production of new knowledge--the program includes the study of literature in cultural and historical contexts, the study of representations of identity, comparative approaches to literature, theoretical perspectives, gender studies, and cultural studies. The program offers you both broad-based and specialized courses on a variety of literary topics, and students may supplement their course of literary study with graduate offerings in related subjects and departments, including courses in composition, creative writing, languages and linguistics, history, and sociology, among others.
At UNH, you will have an intensive intellectual experience in a friendly, supportive community of scholars and writers. Our classes are typically quite small (6-12 students) and are often taught as seminars. Because the ratio of faculty to students is quite high (roughly 1 faculty to every 4 graduate students), you can expect close contact with and guidance from scholars actively involved in research in their fields. The UNH English Department also provides opportunities for you to hear nationally-known scholars talk about their research: recent speakers have included Nancy Armstrong, Jonathan Culler, Dana Nelson, and Srinivas Aravamudan. We offer financial support for those graduate students who deliver papers at conferences. Recent MA students have presented papers at such conferences as "Self and Identity in Translation" (at the U. of East Anglia), Arizona State University's Southwest Graduate English Symposium, "Out of Time: Theorizations of Culture and the Political" (U. of Minnesota), "Britain's Long 18th Century" (U. of Chicago), McGill University's 11th Annual Graduate Symposium: "Violence and Recovery," the COPIA Graduate Renaissance Studies Conference (Yale U.), the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, and the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies Annual Conference (U. of Massachisetts). And some go on to publish their research; one student has an essay forthcoming in a volume on philosophy and film (Cambridge Scholars Press), while two MA students published a collection entitled What to Expect When You are Expected to Teach (Heinemann, 2002).
An M.A. candidate must pass nine four-credit courses, including at least three seminars, taken at the 900 level. Those courses designated "seminars" are for graduate students only and have a maximum of ten students. At least two courses must be in literature before 1800 and at least two after 1800. Of these at least one must be in British or Post-Colonial literature and at least one in American literature. Each M.A. candidate must pass the introductory course in the graduate study of literature (ENGL 925) and a course in literary theory (ENGL 812, 813, 814, 926, 927). Students should plan to take ENGL 925 in their first semester.
As a general rule, all courses counting toward the M.A. degree should be taken within the English department. In special circumstances, however, a student may be granted permission by the graduate committee to apply toward the degree up to two graduate courses offered by other departments. Requests to take courses outside the department should be submitted prior to the semester in which the student wishes to take the course. Before registering, candidates must plan their programs with the Director of Graduate Studies. Those students enrolled full-time normally take three courses per semester; those holding teaching assistantships normally take two courses. While the M.A. program allows students considerable freedom in course selection, it also encourages them to correct deficiencies in their undergraduate training. A schedule of courses is available on the Web and in the English department office a few weeks before the beginning of any given semester. It lists sections, instructors, times, and rooms for courses being offered for the upcoming semester.
Except in unusual circumstances, students are not to take independent study courses in their first year of graduate work. After completing 16 hours of coursework, students may, with the approval of an instructor and the Graduate Director pursue one independent study (ENGL 995). A student's proposal will be judged on its quality and its applicability to the student's program. Proposals should be submitted at the time for pre-registration, and all proposals are subject to the review of the Graduate Committee.
M.A. Students are required to demonstrate competence in a foreign language, both for its intrinsic value and for its value as a tool for the humanistic scholar. Either of the following options may be chosen to demonstrate this competence:
- Passing a reading knowledge test administered by the English Department, in which one printed page is to be translated in an hour with the aid of a dictionary. Passages will be either from literature or criticism. In appropriate cases, exams can be set in certain historical periods of a language--in Renaissance rather than Classical Latin, for example. Exams will generally be held twice (November and March) in an academic year. Students should take the exam early in their graduate careers to allow time to retake it if necessary. No student will be allowed to repeat an exam in the same semester that he or she failed it.
- Passing a fourth-semester college-level course in one foreign language with at least the grade of B.
Foreign students whose native language is not English may be said to have passed the foreign language requirement in their native language.
In the final semester of coursework, Master's in Literature students must complete one of the following:
- A Master's Paper, a finished, polished scholarly paper approximately thirty-five pages in length. Students will receive four credits by registering for ENGL 998, The Master's Paper. The work required for ENGL 998 must be original and not merely rewriting a paper previously submitted in a course or seminar. The semester prior to registering for ENGL 998, students must submit a written proposal signed by the professor who will supervise the research and by another professor who will serve as a second reader. Each student should then plan a series of regular conferences with them and expect demands for revision and rewriting to be made. The paper will not be accepted until the two readers have signed a final approval cover sheet. The paper will not be accepted until both readers have signed a final approval cover sheet and a copy of the paper is submitted to the English Department office of graduate studies. The ENGL 998 course is graded on a credit-fail basis.
- An Extended Seminar Paper. This research paper should be of article quality and length (at least twenty-five pages); it is written in conjunction with a seminar in literature or theory taken in the final semester of coursework. Students must indicate at the time of pre-registration that they will be using the seminar to satisfy this requirement. Students should consult with the seminar professor within the first week of classes to work out how and when the extended seminar paper will be completed.
Graduate students who come to study in our Department will find that we “cover” a great range of subjects in British and American literature, film, theory, linguistics, and composition and rhetoric. We don’t do everything, and we are stronger in some areas than in others, but we offer enough variety in our courses, and we are flexible and adventurous enough in accommodating thesis and dissertation topics, that our students almost always find the guidance they need in pursuing their intellectual interests.
To help students see the shape of our Department, we have grouped professors below by their primary and some of their secondary fields. All of them are versatile to one degree or another, and many of them are affiliated with interdisciplinary programs.
British Literature by Period
American Literature by Period
Colonial (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries)
All the Americanist professors take part in the American Studies undergraduate minor and reflect their interdisiplinary interests in their graduate courses.
Other Literary Fields
Literary and Cultural Theory
Note: Professor Ramadanovic is our specialist in theory, but many of the other professors have a strong interest in theory, or in certain theories, and regularly assign theoretical readings in their graduate courses. Among the schools of theory actively explored by our professors are feminism of various kinds, New Historicism, post-colonial theory, ecocriticism, Marxism, queer theory, and cultural studies.
History of the Book
Fields of Literary Interest
Graduate students in literature are encouraged to consider these areas for their “elective” courses.
Language and Linguistics
Mary Clark, Rochelle Lieber
Note: We offer a Master’s degree in Language and Linguistics. Students interested in the range of courses offered should go to the relevant webpage.
Composition and Rhetoric
Cristy Beemer, Thomas Newkirk, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper
Note: We offer a doctorate in Composition and Rhetoric. Students should consult the relevant webpage to see the courses offered: they include such various topics as the history of rhetoric, research methods in composition, managing a writing center, and Montaigne and the essay.
The English Department offers some modest support for graduate students who are giving a paper or chairing a session at a professional conference in their field. Because these awards are made on a first-come, first-serve basis, you should make application as soon as you can in the academic year. To apply, write the Graduate Coordinator a letter requesting support; include the title of your paper (or session, if you are chairing a session), the conference and location at which it will be given, the dates of the conference, and an estimate of your anticipated expenses. The Graduate Coordinator will notify you in writing about the availability of support.
The Graduate School also offers modest support for graduate students who are giving a paper or chairing a session at a professional conference. These awards can be combined with support from the English Department. Last year, awards were $200 per conference and were awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To apply online, please visit http://www.gradschool.unh.edu/asp/travel_grant.asp. Include the title of your paper, the conference and location at which it will be given, the dates of the conference, and an estimate of your anticipated expenses. Include an acknowledgment that you have received support from the English Department (if you have). The Graduate School will notify you in writing about the availability of support. It is a courtesy to the Graduate School to thank them after the conference for supporting your work.
At present, the English Department and Graduate School do not offer financial support for attending professional conferences without giving a paper.
If you would like more information about tuition, fees, housing, and graduate life at UNH, visit the UNH Graduate School.