Ph.D. in Literature
|Overview ¦ Coursework ¦ Language Requirement ¦ Dissertation ¦ Faculty ¦ Training ¦ Opportunities|
Our graduate 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.
Laura Smith, Ph.D. in Literature, recently completed her dissertation on the subject of textiles in nineteenth century American texts. Ms. Smith shared part of her research in a lecture sponsored by the Center for New England Culture called “The Fabric of Shaker Women’s Lives” in which she surveyed the textile-inspired literature produced by Canterbury Shaker women writers in the mid-nineteenth century. She paid special attention to the work of Hester Ann Adams who produced in 1845 an intricate, illustrated text called a "gift image."
At UNH, you will have an intensive intellectual experience in a friendly, supportive community of scholars and writers. Our classes are typically quite small (6-10 students) and are often taught as seminars. Because the ratio of faculty to students is quite high (roughly 1 faculty to every 4 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, and we offer financial support for those graduate students who deliver papers at conferences.
The English Department offers a Ph.D. in English which allows students to specialize in one of two Tracks: Literature or Composition Studies. The aim of the Ph.D. program is to train students to be teachers and scholars in the fields of literature and language. During their work in the program, Ph.D. candidates in Literature will develop both general competence in literary study and specific areas of mastery. Candidates in Composition Studies will develop a primary area of specialization in Composition Studies and a secondary area of specialization in an area such as literature, critical theory, or linguistics.
Completed applications must be received by January 15 for fall semester. Applications to the doctoral program are not accepted for spring or summer admission. To be admitted to the Ph.D. program the student must have an M.A. degree or be in the final stage of completing requirements for the degree.
Ph.D. students in English normally hold graduate assistantships which require them to teach one course per semester, typically Freshman Composition. Along with teaching this course, students are required to be enrolled in at least 6 credits a semester; two courses (8 credits) per semester are usual. A Teaching Assistantship provides a waiver of tuition for academic courses taken during the year.
Requirements for the Literature Track
Ph.D. candidates in Literature will complete eight four-credit courses beyond the M.A. degree plus English 924. Four of these courses must be graduate seminars in the department. The other courses should be at the 800 or 900 level and must include: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing (English 910), a seminar in literary theory (English 926 or 927), and an non-graded course in Bibliography and Professional Practice (English 924). The Bibliography and Professional Practices course can be taken at any time before the student advances to Candidacy, but might most usefully be taken during the third or fourth year of study. With permission of an advisor, students may take an appropriate graduate course in another department. In addition to course work, students will be required to complete a Teaching Mentorship, as describw from the program.
The purpose of the language requirement is to give students a tool (or tools) which will enable them to master the literature in the specific field that they choose to study, and to add depth to their study of a period of literature, a national literature, an area of critical theory, or the like. All doctoral students will meet with their advisor during the first year of study to determine what the best way of fulfilling the language requirement would be for that student. It is possible that in certain fields the student may be advised to take up the study of a language or languages that she/he has not previously studied, to demonstrate basic proficiency in two rather than advanced proficiency of one language, or possibly to demonstrate proficiency of more than two languages.
To this end, all doctoral students are expected to complete either Option 1 or Option 2 of the language requirement:
A student may demonstrate basic proficiency in two foreign languages, as evidenced by passing grades on translation exams to be administered by the department. Students will be allowed to waive one or both translation exams by demonstrating a grade of B or better in a fourth semester (or higher) undergraduate course in the language.
A student may demonstrate advanced proficiency of one foreign language. Advanced proficiency must be demonstrated in one of the following ways:
- The requirement will be waived for students who are native speakers of another language.
- The student may take a relevant 700 level literature class (the literature must be read in the relevant language), and pass with a grade of B or better.
- The student may show coursework in an undergraduate or M.A. program equivalent to a 700 level literature class (with literature read in the relevant language) with a grade of B or better.
- The new advanced exam requires translation of a longer passage in two hours. We expect a demonstration of nearly complete comprehension of the passage.
- The student may propose a special project, for example, a program of readings in the language, supervised by an appropriate member of the faculty. This project might result in a paper of no less than 20 pages using substantial original translations of the readings and demonstrating the student's close reading skills in the language. The student must submit a short written proposal to the Graduate Committee for approval of this option. (The student may not combine this option with any independent study taken for credit toward the advanced degree). The Graduate Committee will also recommend to the chair what compensation on the point system would be appropriate for the faculty sponsor.
Although the major work on the dissertation is concentrated in the last year or year and a half of the program, a good dissertation develops and gets refined over a longer period of time. The candidate should have a subject in mind as he or she selects fields for the Qualifying Examination. Then the fields can be chosen appropriately and the subject can grow as the student prepares for that exam.
Once the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, a doctoral committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School after nomination by the Department. This committee is normally composed of three professors from the English Department and two more from related departments. The student then prepares a written proposal outlining the dissertation topic, a minimum of ten pages long, the materials to be used, and pertinent scholarship related to the topic. The student has six months from the date of passing the Qualifying Examination to present this proposal.
After submitting copies of this proposal to the doctoral committee, the student meets with its members to defend the proposal and to demonstrate his or her preparation to work on the project. The meeting should last one and one-half hours. The committee may opt to 1) approve the proposal, 2) require that the proposal be revised, 3) require that the student undertake further preparation before proceeding (the conditions are set by the committee and monitored by its chair). If the proposal needs to be re-presented, the student may take no more than an additional six months to do so.
Doctoral candidates registering for English 999 are normally expected to attend a noncredit non-graded dissertation workshop directed by a member of the English Department's graduate faculty. This workshop will meet approximately once a month. (If travel presents a hardship, this requirement may be waived through a petition to the Graduate Director).
In preparing the dissertation, the candidate should refer to the Graduate Catalogue for technical requirements. For dissertation format, the student must consult the graduate school pamphlet, Manual for the Preparation of Theses. After the dissertation is completed, the candidate will defend it orally at a formal examination with the doctoral committee.
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.
Most Ph.D. candidates hold Teaching Assistantships throughout their programs, and the practical experience of teaching Freshman Composition is part of the candidate's preparation for a career in teaching. The course on teaching of composition (English 910) and the regular English 401 staff meetings supplement this experience, giving the teaching itself some theoretical underpinning and encouraging mutual reflection on teaching methods and problems. For those who want even stronger credentials in the teaching of composition, the seminar on teaching composition (English 917) allows students to do first-hand research.
During the third and fourth years of the program, the candidate will typically do one or more apprenticeships in the teaching of literature. Instead of teaching English 401, the student will be assigned to teach one or two of the 500-level (sophomore level) literature courses and work with a faculty member in the department on developing all aspects of the course--planning the syllabus, leading discussions, lecturing, grading, etc.
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 apply 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 fill out an application form, please visit http://www.gradschool.unh.edu/asp/travel_grant.asp. Please 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 or chairing a panel.
If you would like more information about tuition, fees, housing, and graduate life at UNH, visit the UNH Graduate School.