Program of Study
The doctoral program in English at the University at Albany places emphasis on the making of new knowledge, rather than the extraction of knowledge from existing bodies of work. Strengthen your confidence around subjects of study, such as rhetoric, poetics, pedagogy and theory. Experienced faculty will guide you from abstract theories to practical implementations of advanced literary scholarship.
You will explore theoretical concepts in the classroom, and then put that knowledge to the test in your dissertation. Work with a UAlbany faculty mentor to choose a dissertation form and focus that is relevant to your professional interests and challenging enough to strengthen your expertise.
- Textual Studies I: Survey
- Textual Studies II
- Teaching Writing and Literature
- Practicum in Teaching Writing and Literature
At least four courses (16 credits) must be taken in one of the concentration areas.
At least two courses (8 credits) must be taken outside the area of concentration
The dissertation will ordinarily grow out of your coursework and even more directly out of the qualifying examination. It is designed so that you can complete it within the academic year following that examination.
Visit our Schedules and Course Descriptions page to view the Graduate Student Handbook and Graduate Course Description Archive.
For more information, contact Director of Graduate Studies James D. Lilley at [email protected] or 518-442-4093.
This concentration provides a dual framework for considering the history of literature: the study of texts’ singular or innovative relation to the past—a measure of their modernity—as well as the exploration of their complex, sometimes contentious, relation to other discourses of the same historical moment—a measure of their contemporaneity. This double perspective can apply to Europe even before the advent of the so-called “early modern” period during the Renaissance, charting a history of various modernities or modernisms, but it can also serve as the occasion to investigate the limits of considering any literature “modern” or “contemporaneous.” This concentration includes a broad range of courses investigating problems of periodization or genre, questions about aesthetics or creativity, and issues concerning literary form, the history of authorship and readership, and the teaching of literature.
This concentration combines the disciplined practice of writing with a rigorous course of study in the formal, institutional, and material frameworks for understanding that practice. The area provides coursework in creative writing, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction prose, drama, and hypertext, as well as in various kinds of persuasive and argumentative writing. It also examines these writing practices in the context of poetics, rhetoric, technology, and performance as frameworks that are both productive and analytic. The study of poetics and rhetoric therefore provides the basis for shaping a writer’s own aesthetic or persuasive discourses as well as for reading and analyzing them. The technological or material framework serves both to comprehend the history of text production (whether illustrated manuscript, printed page, filmic cell, or digital image) and to test the limits of “written” communication through bodily performance or new media. These poetic, rhetorical, technological, and performative elements also pose diverse intellectual and disciplinary perspectives for studying the teaching of writing in its various forms.
This concentration engages the multiple, changeable, and sometimes volatile elements of a broad range of cultural texts, particularly by employing a variety of interpretive strategies that have emerged in English studies. Work in this area recognizes that the study of culture in English is transnational, particularly given the intellectual pressures of colonialism, postcolonialism, and Anglophone literatures. In accounting for the shifting historical realities of global culture, this concentration also promotes the study of the effects of globalization, cross-cultural exchange, class relations, and the formation of cultural identity on discourse broadly conceived. Courses in this concentration include topics such as class, gender, race, and sexuality; the public sphere, popular culture, and pedagogy as cultural practice; trans-Atlantic, comparative, and diaspora studies.
Reading and writing in the discipline of English now demand a measure of reflexive awareness of the conditions that make the interpretation of texts possible, as reflected in various perspectives that include poesis, semiosis, ideology, mimesis, and performativity. Courses in this concentration inquire into the history and dynamics of the aesthetic categories that shape interpretation, consider the relation of experience (literary, aesthetic, social, pedagogical, or other) to conceptual explanation, and examine the relation of such concepts to history. They invite students to consider the differences and interfaces among interpretive frameworks and strategies, to inquire about the tensions and dislocations in texts, or to probe the social relations that inform reading, writing, and teaching. Some courses focus broadly and comparatively; others address particular problems, traditions, and theories, or investigate emerging approaches.
Each year, the graduate program awards teaching assistantships to 6-10 incoming PhD students. Assistantship stipends for incoming students are $19,000. In addition, assistants have the benefit of a 12-credit, full-time tuition waiver, and health coverage. Assistants are also eligible to apply to the GSEU for professional development grants, which are periodically offered to cover expenses such as textbooks, computer software, and travel to conferences or research archives.
Unlike many other PhD assistantship programs, UAlbany English does not require you to teach during your first year of study. Instead, you will be trained and mentored by faculty members in your fields of interest so that you can begin teaching just one course per semester, in the second year of funding.
During your PhD studies, you will create and develop courses in your expertise and interest across all levels of the undergraduate program, and are given the opportunity to create a teaching portfolio impressive in its breadth and scope.
Doctoral students who enter with an MA receive a 3-year assistantship; those entering with a BA receive a 4-year assistantship, after which you may apply for an additional year of funding which is contingent upon your successful completion of doctoral exams and admission into doctoral candidacy, and University budgets. At the end of assistantship funding, those students making good progress toward their degrees are eligible to apply to continue to teach as part-line instructors in the English Department, with health coverage and other benefits.
UAlbany PhD English graduates go on to become professors in a wide range of university settings. They also find work in the publishing field and well as other administrative positions in higher education.
Over the past 7 years, 92% of our PhD graduates (23 out of 25) were immediately placed in post-doctorate fellowships, tenure-track professorships or full-time renewable employment.
Certificate of Graduate Study Teaching Composition
Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.
- Students will learn to make critical or theoretical arguments as demonstrated by:
- The ability to make an original point about a topic or text, and describe accurately an argument’s relevance to published debates in the field.
- The ability to research, summarize, and articulate major arguments of a field of study.
- Students will learn to make oral presentations and evidenced by the ability to present literary, critical, or theoretical ideas and respond spontaneously to questions from peers and faculty instructors.
- Students will develop effective pedagogical skills as demonstrated by:
- The ability to design an effective introductory-level undergraduate course in literature or writing.
- The ability to describe and position one’s pedagogical practice within larger disciplinary fields, theories, and approaches.
- The development of effective course assignments, and the ability to evaluate and provide effective feedback on students’ work, design appropriate lesson plans, and lead effective class sessions.
- Students taking writing workshops will develop proficiency in a writing genre as demonstrated by:
- The improvement of an original work in light of peer and instructor feedback, with a view toward possible publication or development into the dissertation project.
- The ability to assess and propose improvements for other writers’ work by successfully taking the role of peer-as-instructor.
- Students choosing the creative dissertation option will develop working knowledge of current excellence in the field as demonstrated by:
- The ability to locate and assess current print and online resources related to writing and/or poetics.
- The ability to read critically and evaluate current creative, literary, or media productions.
- The ability to operate within a coherent critical or theoretical poetics based on a substantial intervention in the field.