Students will choose two nine-hour concentrations from 1) Literary and Cultural Studies; 2) Rhetoric, Writing and Discourse Studies; 3) Technology and Media Studies; and 4) Student-Designed.

Core Courses (9 Credit Hours)

Required courses:

  • 810 Major Debates in English Studies
  • 840 Empirical Research Methods and Project Design
  • 892 Dissertation Seminar

It is strongly recommended that students take 810 in their first semester of study as it provides an overview to the many subfields within the English Studies. Students should also take 840 early in their course of study whenever possible, preferably during the second semester. Dissertation Seminar is taken during the student’s last semester (see more below).

Concentration Courses (18 Credit Hours)

Please note:

  1. Several courses appear in multiple concentrations, but the same course cannot be counted towards the required nine hours in multiple concentrations. (No “double-dipping” is allowed).
  2. A concentration is defined by a minimum of three courses, but students are free to select additional courses from their concentration areas as electives (see below, ELECTIVES).
  3. Students who choose the “Student-Designed Concentration ” as one of their two concentrations must follow the process for defining it specified in the description below in order for courses they take to constitute an concentration.
  4. Students may count only one “Student-Designed Concentration” toward the requirement to complete two concentrations. That is, all students must select at least one of the pre-defined disciplinary concentrations described below, but all students may also design their own concentration according to the process stipulated below.

Literary and Cultural Studies

The Literary and Cultural Studies concentration will teach students to apply a range of interdisciplinary methodologies to the study of literature and other textually informed cultural practices. Although the concentration includes courses offering intensive study of specific literary-cultural topics (such as Victorian Gothic or Women & Indian Film), the concentration aims more to professionalize students as experts in the methods and critical traditions of literary, textual, and cultural interpretation than to credential students as specialists in particular literary-cultural periods. By the conclusion of their studies in this concentration, students will be proficient in interpreting texts and cultural practices by critically employing methodologies that include:

  • Theories of Form, such as the technical protocols of scholarly editing and the physical description of manuscript and printed texts
  • Critical Theories such as New Historicism, Feminism, Queer Theory, and Poststructuralism
  • Cultural Theories such as Critical Race Theory, Mass/Popular Culture Theory, and Postcolonial Studies


  • 801 Texts and Technologies
  • 805 Discourse and Rhetoric across Cultures
  • 825 Scholarly Editing and Textual Scholarship
  • 830 Digital Humanities
  • 835 Postcolonial Literature and Theory
  • 864 Theories of Literature
  • 890 Seminar in Textual Studies
  • 891 Seminar in Literary Studies
  • 895 Topics Cultural Studies Theory and Practice

Rhetoric, Writing, and Discourse Studies

This concentration prepares students for placement and advancement in careers centered on the history and theory of rhetoric, composition, writing program administration, workplace studies, and/or rhetorical and linguistic approaches to discourse and culture. It emphasizes how communications are composed, constructed, and produced as well as how they affect (inter)personal, social, cultural, and political situations. Possible areas of inquiry include:

  • Institutional assessment procedures for writing and critical thinking.
  • Writing practices and language use in a variety of educational, public, professional, and workplace settings.
  • The influence of cultural and disciplinary assumptions about language and language users upon rhetorical and linguistic choices.
  • The rhetorical constraints and strategies of underrepresented groups.
  • The historical development of theory, practice, and instruction in rhetoric and composition and professional writing.


  • 805 Discourse and Rhetoric Across Cultures
  • 806 Visual Rhetoric and Document Design
  • 815 Professional Writing Theories and Practices
  • 816 Professional Writing In/For International Contexts
  • 820 Pedagogy and Instructional Design
  • 821 Composition as Applied Rhetoric
  • 860 Classical Rhetoric & Theory Building
  • 863 Seminar in Discourse Analysis
  • 865 Modern Rhetoric & Theory Building
  • 883 Seminar in Professional Writing
  • 878 Seminar in Sociolinguistics
  • 893 Seminar in Rhetoric

Technology and Media Studies

The study of technology as a political, cultural, economic, systemic, and aesthetic force is a crucial area of analysis of contemporary scholarship. This concentration prepares students for interdisciplinary work with a focus on domains of technological complexity with foundations in the materiality of rhetorical work. A major tenet of this concentration is that in addition to studying issues of technology, society, communication, and media design, we will also develop practical solutions for the situations we confront. This concentration prepares students for both academic and industry positions where they can use their skills as researchers and strategists. Possible areas of research and application include:

  • Ethical, social, and political dimensions of information, technology and networked communication.
  • Copyright and intellectual property, including the legal implications of technological regulation and change.
  • Privacy issues in information technologies and media.
  • Implications of digital methods in the humanities (Digital Humanites).
  • Design and development of digital humanities tools.
  • Technologically mediated communication such as experience design, usability studies, and information architecture
  • Visual and participatory cultures


  • 806 Visual Culture and Design
  • 830 Digital Humanities
  • 866 New Media Theory and Practice 1
  • 871 New Media Theory and Practice 2
  • 894 Seminar in New Media
  • 895 Topics Foundations in Technology and Media Studies
  • 895 Topics Theory and Practice of Experience Design
  • 895 Topics Methods for Tracing Digital Culture
  • 895 Topics Culture | Media | Participation
  • 895 Topics Internet Studies
  • 895 Topics Technologically Mediated Communication

Student-Designed Concentration

A student-designed concentration is a coherent cluster of at least three courses that are not included in the other concentrations chosen by the student. The courses selected for the concentration must define a cross-curricular focus that is clearly different from the foci of the pre-defined disciplinary concentrations listed above. Examples might include: methodology; pedagogy; gender studies; visual rhetoric; discourse and rhetoric across cultures; or professional writing for international contexts. Students should choose or construct concentrations under the guidance of an advisor, with advice from other mentors as needed. In order to count courses taken as part of a student-designed concentration, students must submit a proposal for the concentration that includes a title, a description of its focus, and a tentative or exemplary selection of at least 3 courses to their advisor and the graduate program director (GPD). The GPD must approve the proposal and include a signed letter approving it in the student’s advising file. Because courses actually taken for the concentration may change based on course offerings, a final description of the student-designed concentration (including a title, a description of its focus, and a justification of how courses taken support its focus) must be approved by the GPD in a signed letter before the student enrolls in English 892 Dissertation Seminar.

Electives (12 credit hours)

The remaining four courses are electives, which may include additional courses in the student’s chosen emphases, courses in other emphases, or other 800-level courses from other programs. Students are encouraged to select electives that contribute to defining a coherent area of specialization or subfield. Note: Students should select a pedagogy course when students’ previous work experience or coursework does not prepare them for instructional activities related to their field. Students may choose from a wide variety of electives (including courses in the lists above) to enable them to follow particular interests whether related directly or not to their field interests.

Normally, students would choose electives among English offerings at the 800-level; however, they may choose one course at the 600-level or 700-level (primarily taken by master’s students) without special permission. Students seeking to take more than one class below the 800-level should speak to the GPD before enrolling. Electives may also be chosen from among other doctoral-level courses in the university. Students should consult with the GPD before enrolling in non-English classes. Because at least one member of the dissertation committee must come from outside the department, students are encouraged to take a non-English elective as a way of establishing contact with a potential member of the committee.