Areas of Strength

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Home to a number of eminent poets as well as distinguished scholars of verse, the University of Rochester’s English department boasts a long tradition of excellence in the study and creation of poetry – both of which endeavors serve to underpin the department’s longstanding reputation for the rigorous formal analysis of literature more broadly conceived.

Resources for the pursuit of poetry and poetics include:

Literary History

Literary history – in all of the various senses of that term – occupies a central place in much of the department’s research and scholarship. Whether we use this phrase to refer to the study of literature’s shifting forms and functions over time, or to the study of literature’s active participation in the unfolding of history, our faculty remain committed to analyzing the many kinds of narratives told in – and about – the past.

Students of literary history may benefit from such resources and initiatives as:

Editing and Editorial Theory

The English department’s longstanding commitment to editorial theory and practice has been garnering recognition for over 50 years. Ongoing editorial projects include:

Creative Writing

Almost uniquely among departments of its kind, the University of Rochester’s Department of English  allows qualified students to combine literary scholarship with creative writing. Both MA and PhD students may enroll in for-credit writing workshops; in place of the traditional MA Essay, MA students may opt to submit a novella, poem cycle, or other creative composition as their capstone project.

The department’s current fiction writers and poets include:

  • A MacArthur Foundation Fellow
  • A Pulitzer Prize Finalist
  • The Assistant Director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
  • The Director of the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference
  • Two Members of the Faculty at The Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers
  • A Recipient of the Lannan Literary Award
  • A Winner of The Nation’s “Discovery” Award
  • A Winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award
  • A Recipient of the Translation Award from the American Translators’ Association

Resources for students interested in creative writing include:

The Early Fields

Long known for its strengths in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the department is home to several unique resources, speaker-series, and ongoing collaborative research projects in these fields, including:

American Literature

Our faculty includes a number of celebrated Americanists, whose teaching and research interests cover the full range of American literature in English, from the colonial period to the present day. Particular strengths include the study of racial representation and cultural politics, as well as the continued reconsideration of such concepts as freedom, democracy, and American exceptionalism.

Significant resources for students of American literature include:

Modernist Studies

While the term modernism may denote a strictly aesthetic rupture with traditional forms of representation, it may also refer more broadly to a revision of social and ideological formations; likewise, while the designation may once have implied a historically-specific break with a historically-specific past, scholars of modernism now engage with a diversity of artistic creations – often the product of lively transnational networks and collaborations – generated over at least two centuries and extending to the present day.

Our department houses many faculty devoted to the study of modernism in all its manifestations. Resources pertaining to modernist studies include:

Media Studies

The department’s investment in media studies is broad-based and historically rooted. Areas of focus include:

  • Book history & print culture (bolstered by rare books and special collections)
  • Broadcast media studies (supported in part by the Multimedia Center )
  • Digital humanities
  • Film studies
  • Performance and theater studies (enhanced by the presence of the International Theatre Program )
  • Verbal-visual studies (a central concern of the William Blake Archive )

Department faculty and graduate students working in media studies often find their work enriched by colleagues, courses, lectures, and conferences in these related fields and programs:

Film Studies

Rochester’s history is bound up with the history of film, and this heritage is palpable: at the heart of this legacy stands The George Eastman Museum, whose vast collections provide opportunities for scholarly research, renewable year-long graduate fellowships, and formal training programs in preservation and curatorial work.

The  GEH’s L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, in cooperation with the English department, offers an MA in English with a concentration in film and media studies; its program in photographic preservation and collections management, though not affiliated with the English department, is likewise offered jointly through the University.

English department faculty provide numerous courses on film theory, film genres, and film history; scholars in the following programs further contribute to film-related pursuits on campus:

An abundance of film-studies resources are housed in Rush Rhees Library’s Multimedia Center.

In addition, Rochester is home to several annual film festivals, art-house cinemas, and the Dryden Theatre , which screens six different archival, rare, cult, foreign, and/or silent films per week.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

English department faculty and students engage constantly with the many interdisciplinary pursuits being undertaken throughout the University at any given time. A wide variety of courses, conferences, lectures, research seminars, reading groups, and work-in-progress colloquia are sponsored by the following programs, departments, and initiatives:

Additionally, English graduate students may opt to supplement their PhD or MA with a certificate in: