Master of Arts in English

Villanova University, Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences

Program Description

Master of Arts in English

Villanova University, Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences

To earn the Master's degree, you will complete 30 credits, including a thesis or an oral/written field examination. The only two formal requirements are a course in American literature before 1900 and another in British literature before 1800. An average grade of at least "B" must be maintained to remain in the program. Full-time students complete the curriculum in two years, taking two or three courses each semester, but you may also pursue your studies on a part-time basis, in which case you may take up to six years to earn the degree.

Your M.A. coursework provides you the opportunity to study in a variety of areas, while the thesis or field exam allows you to develop expertise in a particular field. If you elect to write a thesis, you will give sustained critical attention to an author, theme or small selection of texts. If you pursue the field examination, you will read a list of works compiled in consultation with your advisor that allows you to explore a field of your own definition.

At all stages, the program is deeply committed to your development as a literary scholar. Before entering the program, you will be is assigned an advisor who can help you plan your course of study. Once you've completed nine credits, you may request an advisor with expertise in your area of interest.

Teaching Internships

To ensure that our Master’s candidates have the opportunity to gain undergraduate teaching experience while pursuing their degree, the Graduate English Program has developed a unique teaching internship program. This program is designed to allow each Master’s candidate to receive one-on-one instruction and mentoring from our graduate faculty in how to be an effective teacher at the college level.

At the end of their first year of study, students who have maintained at least a B+ average and who have no outstanding incompletes may approach a graduate faculty member who is teaching an upper-level English course of particular interest to them and request permission to serve as his or her teaching intern. Interns attend all class sessions; confer with each student at least once during the semester concerning their work for the class; teach two to three classes under the supervision of the faculty member; and complete a final project for the course that is either (1) a substantial critical essay concerning the subject matter of the course or (2) a research project concerning trends and issues within college-level pedagogy. For this work, the student receives three credits toward their degree.

Some of the courses are as following:

Approaches to Premodern Literature: Medieval Field Survey

The study of premodern "English" literature requires students to supplement their usual interpretive skills with a slightly different toolkit. This course will act as a survey of the current field of English medieval literary studies and will introduce students to the interdisciplinary approaches and debates important to medieval studies. The course will work to give a broad view of the state of the field from the nitty-gritty materiality of manuscript studies to the latest trends in critical theory--including the explosion of medieval animal studies and the non-human turn. We will examine medieval textualities, the history of the book, and the formation of critical editions; we will explore the new philology, contemporary translation studies, and England's multilingual literary culture. We will also delve into the continuing debates over the aptness of contemporary theory to premodern texts. Although some of our primary texts will be read in translation, there will also be significant reading in Middle English. No previous experience with Middle English is necessary.

Sex Before Sexology

This class asks what sex looked and felt like before the instantiation of modern identity categories such as homosexuality or heterosexuality--before, that is, our desires became an index to our souls. To this end, we'll examine texts by nineteenth-century American writers that represent the experiences and expressions of what we now call sexuality, but do so in ways that resist the organizational force that term implies. Many of our texts will represent same-sex desires and gender deviant or, in at least one case, transgender expressions. As readers, then, our challenge won't be to locate so-called queer content, but instead to know how to interpret this content--to ascertain, as Jordan Stein put it, "what exactly this evidence is evidence of." Do we, for instance, see pre-sexological representations of homoeroticism as somehow anticipatory, moving toward attitudes and behaviors that only now can be fully understood? Or might we see them as articulating alternative possibilities or futures that never came to pass? All of our texts, moreover, implicitly and explicitly position their representations of sex along the black/white color line that constituted the period's dominant system for racial distinction. We'll quickly find that interpreting sex in nineteenth-century American also demands that we grapple with the histories of race, particularly slavery, scientific racism, and the fears surrounding interracial sex and mixed race people.

Primary texts will likely include Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, "The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" (anonymously published), Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, selected poetry by Walt Whitman, Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Iola Leroy, selected stories by Mary Wilkins Freeman, Pauline Hopkins's Contending Forces, and Henry James's In the Cage--along with primary documents from Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science.

villanova 6
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated November 16, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
2 - 6 years
Part time
Full time
720 USD
Start date Aug. 2017
USA Villanova, Pennsylvania
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 2 - 6 years
Price 720 USD