All graduate students are required to take the Research and Methods Seminar (English 510)
Research and Methods
This course focuses on methods and resources for research in English, including substantial treatments of narrative, poetics, and close-reading skills. It typically introduces graduate students to questions of textuality, genre, medium, authorship, reception, historiography, and bibliography. It features an introduction to the library, special collections, InterLibrary Loan, and print and computer databases (including internet resources and the Oxford English Dictionary). Over the semester, students will develop a sense of the history of the profession and its current structures, norms, and functions. The Research and Methods course invites students to develop professional attitudes toward the study of English language and literature, presents forms of study meant to remain useful to students throughout their careers, and offers a common base and vocabulary to students whose professional interests will inevitably diverge in the course of their study.
All MA students are required to take the seminar in teaching composition (English 400). All PhD students are required to take the seminar in technical and professional communication (English 506). PhD students who have not had the equivalent of English 400 as part of their MA training are strongly encouraged to take 400 as an elective.
These seminars are offered in alternate years. Students for whom a seminar is not a requirement may take it as an elective.
All new students working under teacher assistantships are required by CWRU to complete University 400A in their first year of study. New TAs in the department will be contacted by the Director of Composition about additional requirements pertaining to the Department’s Pedagogy Seminar Series.
All graduate students are required to take at least one of the following courses that treat intensively theoretical concepts and critical reading. Students who have not had a comprehensive introduction to theory at the MA or undergraduate level should take English 487. Students who have taken an introductory course should consider one of the Topics in Theory courses.
CRITICAL THEORY (ENGLISH 487)
This course introduces graduate students to literary and critical theory. English 487 presumes no prior knowledge of theory, but students should have taken Research and Methods and demonstrate strong close-reading skills.
TOPICS IN THEORY
These courses treat intensively a focused area of theoretical inquiry. Topics in Theory courses include our current regular offerings in Composition Theory (500) and Rhetorical Theory (501), as well as a range of topics offered under the designations English 502 and English 524. These seminars may include Narrative Theory, Poetics and Prosody, Linguistics and Semiotics, Feminist Theory, Film Theory, Cultural Studies, and The Construction of Authorship. Independent Study (590) may also be appropriate for some students fulfilling this distribution. The courses counting toward the Topics in Theory distribution presume that students have been exposed to literary and critical theory at the MA or undergraduate level (i.e., in a prior course or its equivalent). Students should also have taken the Research and Methods course, and demonstrate strong close-reading skills.
The graduate program offers an annual program of workshops and information sessions designed to introduce graduate students to issues in the profession. All graduate students are invited to attend these sessions. The series typically includes an overview of the academic job search, including how to read the MLA Job List, to make contacts, to construct an academic vita, to write a dissertation abstract, to draft cover letters for jobs for different institutions, to interview, and to construct a teaching portfolio. Additional sessions typically address grant and proposal writing, summer internship possibilities, and working with archives.
In addition, students seeking a doctorate in English are required to enroll in the graduate-level Publication Workshop, which is not offered for credit, but is required by the English Department for graduation.
In this workshop, students rework a paper for publication in a journal or an essay collection. Upon choosing a project, the student identifies a journal or a volume (in response to a call for papers) and tailors his or her project according to the format and focus of that publication. The workshop involves regular peer-review, and at the conclusion of the workshop one or more faculty members gives an impartial reading of the student’s final article to determine its readiness for submission and to offer further advice. The Publication Workshop should be taken in the spring of the second, third, or fourth year; it may be audited in the spring of the first or fifth year. Students may enroll in the Workshop more than once.
Approximately once a month, faculty, Lecturers, and graduate students convene for a research colloquium. One of these sessions annually features the winner of the Neil MacIntyre Prize for best graduate paper. Attendance at Department Colloquium sessions is expected, and records of attendance will be made.
Regular and occasional programming will be announced by the department or the Director of Graduate Studies (in 2011-12, for example, a pilot program of miniseminars supplementing the Department’s curricular offerings will be conducted by Department Lecturers).
The department strongly encourages student-organized reading groups and provides a workshop space in Guilford 107 for this purpose. Reservations can be made on the calendar posted opposite the workshop room. Recent reading groups have been devoted to current issues in critical theory; contemporary science fiction; and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Groups to discuss texts on the MA exam reading list are particularly encouraged.