The Ph.D. program offers advanced study of English, Anglophone, and some comparative literature at the doctoral level in a range of theoretical orientations and interdisciplinary, cross-field areas of study in combination with the historical periods that have generally defined the study of national literatures. Students may work in or across periods, including Medieval, Early Modern, Eighteenth-Century American or British Literature, Nineteenth-Century American or British Literature, Modernism, and Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Literature. Students may also work comparatively, or globally, concentrating on the study of world literatures in translation, their circulation, and dissemination. Students may also orient their studies generically (novel, drama, poem, essay, and the modern popular genres: romance, detective, science fiction, fantasy, horror), or theoretically (narrative, textual, semiotic, digital, social, cognitive, historical, archival, critical).

The advanced degree programs in the Department of English also offer students the opportunity to work in a choice of interdisciplinary fields and sub-fields that allow students to keep pace with the dynamic developments going on within the professional study of literature and to forge their own research projects accordingly. As students work in and across fields and periods they are required to develop a critical problem that engages with the innovative changes taking place in the discipline at large and to devise a research agenda in conversation with contemporary methodological and theoretical developments.

Working closely with faculty advisors and guidance committees, students are encouraged to create specialized interdisciplinary fields tailored to their own interest that bridge subjects or carve out new areas of research or fields of study.

Doctoral work in English prepares students to engage as scholars and teachers in the professional environment of universities and colleges and as contributors to on-going debates surrounding textual representation, discursive fields, interpretative approaches, cultural practices and histories, and pedagogies. Faculty expect Ph.D. candidates in English to,

  • Develop their knowledge of areas of expertise, as well as of the broader contexts of English studies;
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the theories, philosophies, and assumptions of critical, cultural and textual analysis and interpretation;
  • Contribute to literary, cultural, and film studies through research and publication;
  • Write at a professional level;
  • Teach at a professional level;
  • Contribute to the professional life of the department by attending lectures, organizing conferences, presenting their work to peers in the department and at conferences, and attending dissertation defenses.