MA in English Literature

English Department

Degrees offered

Master's

Campuses

Main Campus

The Master of Arts in English at Notre Dame of Maryland University is a 30-credit comprehensive curriculum designed to provide students with the content and methodologies required to become better teachers of English at the secondary level and to prepare students for doctoral-level work in English.

The curriculum focuses on breadth of content, providing broad surveys of English, American and world literature while also requiring a depth of knowledge in literary research, history and interpretation. Students will hone their critical thinking and writing skills as they master the concepts and theories central to the study of literature. The program, while comprehensive in scope, is distinctive in its emphasis on gender: Notre Dame's mission focuses on women's ability to transform the world through education, and all courses in this program include literature by women and issues of women in literature.

The program is designed primarily for working adults who choose to pursue the degree part-time. Therefore courses are offered in a sequence, with one course taught per semester (one evening weekly in fall and spring and two evenings weekly during each of the two summer sessions), providing for completion of coursework and comprehensive exams within three years.

The course of study for the Master of Arts in English requires ten courses (3 credits each) in literary research methods, literary theory, literary movements and topics seminars. Students take one required core course in research and theory, which will provide students with the skills needed to do graduate-level work in reading and writing literary criticism. Students also complete eight additional courses; the courses in literary movements provide breadth in literary history; the topics courses provide depth in a particular significant area. Students may transfer up to two graduate courses from another accredited English graduate program, at the discretion of the English Graduate Council.

The program culminates in a comprehensive exam, which students will take at the end of their three years of coursework. A reading list will be provided. The exam may be taken only twice, and the student must pass it in order to earn the master's degree.


Program of Study

Curriculum

Required Core Courses

ENG-501 Research Methodologies of Literary Criticism (3)
ENG-508 Contemporary Literary Theory (3)

Literary Movements Courses
ENG-518 Medievalism (3)
ENG-519 Renaissance and Neoclassicism (3)
ENG-528 Romanticism (3)
ENG-529 Realism and Victorianism (3)
ENG-538 Modernism and Postmodernism (3)
ENG-547 New Woman Literature (3)

Topics Seminars and Other Courses
ENG-507 Pedagogy of Creative Writing (3)
ENG-511 Topics in Literature (3)
ENG-527 London Theatre Tour (3)
ENG-548 Classical World Literature (3)
ENG-549 Modern World Literature (3)
ENG-551 Literary Utopias (3)
ENG-558 Multicultural American Literature (3)

Courses

ENG-501 Research Methodologies Of Literary Criticism

Provides an overview of literary research methods, bibliography and research writing. Students will use the major research tools and databases in literature and apply these research strategies to the study of selected literary and historical works on one specific topic in literary theory. Students will also learn how to analyze secondary sources and incorporate their findings into their own writing in order to develop the skills necessary to producing original literary criticism. The course is designed to prepare students for the research and writing required in the master's egree in English program. [3 credits]

ENG-507 The Pedagogy of Creative Writing

Can creative writing be taught? And, if so, how can we help students develop productive writing habits and utilize their own life experiences? This course will examine how creativity can be encouraged, especially in light of the latest brain science. This course will review advantages and disadvantages of various ways of organizing creative writing units and of evaluating student writing. Students will learn about techniques to help students become expert readers and engage in exercises to help writers become more self-aware, craft-conscious, and self-critical. [3 credits]

ENG-508 Contemporary Literary Theory

Examines prominent literary theories that have influenced the analysis and interpretation of literature in the last century. Theories studied range from formalism, structuralism, and post-structuralism, to psychoanalytic and readerresponse theories, to cultural-oriented theories, such as feminism, Marxism, and new historicism. Students will master theoretical concepts and methodologies as well as apply theoretical literary concepts to specific works of literature. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-518 Medievalism

Focuses on ideas, arts, and practices characteristic of the Middle Ages as portrayed in English literature before 1485, with some reference to influences from the continent. Brief overviews of the oral formulaic tradition of Old English poetry and the historical and legendary works of Bede and Geoffrey of Monmouth form a preliminary backdrop for the period. Selections from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English introduce students to the roots of their language and provide examples of literary genres such as fabliau, fable, exemplum, and the Breton lay of Marie de France. Through Thomas Malory?s Morte D'Arthur students analyze another popular medieval genre, the prose romance, and explore Arthurian themes that have pervaded literature into modern times. In addition to these major works, some attention is also given to samples of medieval drama, mysticism, and allegorical social satire. Readings highlight estates satire, the church's use of literature and art as a teaching device, and contradictory images of medieval anti-feminism vs. the veneration of women. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-519 Renaissance and Neoclassicism

Explores poetry, drama, and prose of the English Renaissance, the Spanish Golden Century, and Neoclassicism. Influenced by the Italian rebirth of Greek and Roman philosophy and literature, and disseminated by the miracle of the printing press, the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages produced great writers of English literature, including Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Marlowe, Donne, and others, who will be read and critically analyzed. The Restoration and Age of Reason gave us poetry, literary criticism, essays, drama and the emerging new genre, the novel. Selected writers of the period will be read and analyzed with a particular focus on women's issues. Critical response papers are required as well as the presentation of seminar papers on specific authors and/or topics. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-527 Study Tour

ENG-528 Romanticism

Examines major concepts and themes of British and American Romanticism. Major Romantic concepts include a belief in the spiritual and restorative powers of nature, the importance of the imagination, and the truth of the emotions. Major Romantic themes include the pursuit of the Ideal, glorification of nature, centrality of the common man, and love of the supernatural and mysterious. Writers studied include British Romantic poets Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Byron, and American Romantics Thoreau, Poe, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Radcliffe, and Emerson. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-529 Realism and Victorianism

Examines major literary works of the realism period of the nineteenth century, with a primary focus on English, American, and continental fiction, the genre in which realism finds its greatest variety and richness. Students will explore the foundations of realism and its literary relation naturalism, including the psychological basis of character, the uniqueness of individual experience, the use of the commonplace, the goal of objectivity in reporting what novelist W. D. Howells called "the truthful treatment of material," new ideas concerning the purposes of fiction?including the sometimes disparaged "novel with a purpose" ? and verisimilitude. Selected novels will emphasize the roles and condition of women of the period. Students will explore the importance of the magazine to the rise of the realistic novel and will also read examples of the literary criticism of the period in order to appreciate the parameters set for fiction by a new generation of professional literary critics. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-538 Modernism and Postmodernism

Examines the poetry, drama, and fiction of selected representative writers and analyzes the works from various literary theoretical perspectives. Course will trace Modern concepts of radical individualism, re-contextualization through myth, dominance of psychoanalytic thinking, emancipatory emergence?particularly as it relates to women, and the shift from an epistemological to an ontological aesthetic in the works of modernists such as Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Woolf, Joyce, Faulkner, O?Neill, and others. In the context of the contractual nature of language and its development with structuralism, poststructuralism, and deconstruction, we will analyze the works of postmodern poets, playwrights, and novelists such as Beckett, Ionesco, Churchill, Byatt, Morrison, and Nabokov. Critical response papers are required, as well as the presentation of seminar papers on specific authors and/or topics. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-548 Classical World Literature

Analyzes classics of world literature from ancient to pre-modern times, learning to identify and appreciate the qualities that make a work a classic, including its enduring worldview, its style, its impact, and its universality. The course will explore such issues as social and familial relationships, gender roles, the relationship between the individual and society, differing value systems, mythopoetic and folkloric influences on literature, elements of narrative, poetic, and conceptual structure in the works, and the ways in which literature shapes our perception of reality. Texts covered may include works by Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Ovid, and Virgil from classical times, selections from Gilgamesh, the Bible, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita (or another Vedantic book), the Tao Te Ching, and Persian poetry, works like The Art of War by Sun Tzu and The Pillow Book by Sei Sei Shonagon, and more recent works regarded as classic by such authors as Dante, Boccaccio, Rabelais, Moli?re, Cervantes, and Goethe. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-549 Modern World Literature

Examines contemporar y literature from around the world, either in translation or written in English, analyzing it in terms of cultural differences, gender roles, literary archetypes, universalities of human experience and thought, and each book?s thematic focus and philosophical outlook. Potential issues raised by the course include existentialism in literature, symbolism and magical realism as literary styles, self-consciousness and structuralism in literary form, experimental fiction, the relationship of literature to political and cultural change, ethnocentrism and global consciousness, and the increasing emphasis in contemporary literature on the individual's responses to a bewildering, frustrating, and sometimes oppressive social context. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-551 Literary Utopias

Analyzes pervasive themes and common concerns in utopian and dystopian visions of different times, starting with the genre-creating Renaissance classic, Thomas More's Utopia, and moving through the "nowheres" of 19th and 20th century writers like Butler, Bellamy, Zamiatin, LeGuin, and Piercy. Students trace political, philosophical, and scientific concepts underlying these imagined worlds, linking the concepts to theories of human nature on which they are based. Individual reports enhance seminar-style discussion. [ 3 credits ]

ENG-558 Multicultural American Literature

Examines works by writers of various ethnic groups in twentieth- and twenty-first-century America, with emphasis on African American, Arab American, Asian American, Jewish American, Native American, and Latino American writings. Readings will come from several literary genres, including novels, short stories, and poetry, but students will also read theory and criticism relevant to recent work in ethnic and feminist studies. [ 3 credits ]