Our English PhD program offers students a rare combination of close interaction with faculty and personalized courses of study, with the wide array of intellectual, scholarly, and cultural opportunities that define a major research institution such as ours. For a detailed overview of what type of path our students take, see the PhD schedule page.
Our program comprises the following:
In addition to the program elements listed above we also have a language requirement. See our language exam page for more information.
To learn about our past students, see the recent PhD recipients page.
Our PhD students typically receive two types of pedagogical training: one is based in an apprentice model; the other consists of a formal pedagogy course offered through the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program (WSAP).
Apprentice Model Pedagogy Training
In the second year of the program, students are paired with a faculty member with whom they apprentice. In addition to sitting in on one of the faculty member’s undergraduate courses, the apprentice may engage in a variety of tasks. Depending on the nature of the course, the faculty member’s preferences, and the apprentice’s own previous experience the apprentice may
- Assist in presenting certain material
- Lead discussions once or twice during the semester
- Help to devise and/or grade assignments
- Hold office hours from time to time
In all cases, the apprentice will meet with his/her faculty mentor in order to discuss the course’s design, in-class dynamic, and assessment methods, as well as the pedagogical principles behind these.
WSAP Pedagogy Training
During the summer after the second year, those students who have applied successfully to teach for the WSAP in years three and four will participate in the WSAP’s pedagogy course. Information about the course will be provided to participating students in the spring.
Students must take exams in two fields: one historical field and one conceptual field.
The lists for both fields are constructed by the candidate in close consultation with a committee consisting of at least three department faculty members, and one faculty member from outside the department.
Historical fields generally include those traditionally recognized within the discipline. Conceptual fields may be critical theory fields, literary history fields, genre fields, history of ideas fields, or thematic fields. Conceptual fields should be designed to cover ground well beyond the student's area of historical specialization.
The qualifying examinations are an occasion for students to display their expertise in their chosen historical and conceptual fields. Their main function is to help students develop the intellectual and scholarly credentials necessary for success in the profession.
PhD Historical Field Lists
Each historical field list comprises no less than 80 percent of the final list compiled by the student in consultation with their committee. This allows students to have a set template and then to work with advisors, based on their interests, to supplement that template. Please keep this final length limit in mind when you consult with faculty about adding items to the list.
- Old English (PDF)
- Middle English (PDF)
- English Renaissance Literature (PDF)
- The Long Eighteenth Century (PDF)
- British and American Moderns (PDF)
- 20th-Century American (PDF)
- 19th-Century British (PDF)
Sampling of PhD Conceptual Fields
- The American Conscience, 1820-1920: Moral Philosophy, Social Purpose, and Reform
- Boundaries of the Body
- Domestic Utopianism
- Early English Drama and Theories of Performance
- Feminist Theory
- Insular Multilingualism and English Cultural Identity
- Literary Cosmopolitanism in 20th-Century American Literature
- Poetry and Poetics
- Postcolonial Theory
- Spectacle of Identity: Deformity, Difference, and the Body
- Scholarly Editing in the Late Age of Print: Textual Criticism and the Digital Humanities
- Spatialized Subjectivities and the Geographical Imagination
- Transatlantic Studies
Graduate education in the department extends to both research and teaching. All PhD students participate in a summer-long pedagogy course and are exposed to a variety of teaching environments by:
- Designing and leading their own composition courses
- Co-teaching a course with a faculty member
- Receiving training and experience in English-as-a-Second-Language instruction
- Teaching core courses during the summer term
Beginning in their second year, students teach one course per semester for the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program (WSAP). Each graduate instructor designs his or her own syllabus, reflecting their own passions, interests, and emerging expertise. Enrollment in writing courses is limited to 15 students.
In addition to WSAP courses, advanced graduate students have the opportunity to teach courses within their fields of specialization through the Teaching Fellowship Program, the Susan B. Anthony Teaching Fellowship, and the department's summer school curriculum.
Campus resources for teaching include:
- Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
- Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program
- University Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning
Dissertation and Defense
All PhD students must write and defend a dissertation. See the graduate studies PhD defense page for details and deadlines.