Department of English

Concentration in Literature

The Literature concentration offers a range of critical perspectives on literary and cultural studies with an emphasis on British and American literature and theory. Students who complete the literature concentration will develop writing and research skills through in depth study of particular literary and cultural fields.  Course offerings and programs of research reflect a broad range of faculty interests including film and visual culture, women's studies, transatlantic literature and culture, and green studies.  Some of the specific genres our faculty specialize in include the novel, the short story, lyric poetry, the epic, travel writing, and contemporary drama.  Specific regional, national, and international literatures include African, African Caribbean, Irish, Native American, and U.S. Southern.

Course Requirements

Table of course requirements
Requirements Courses    
GTA req.
(2 hrs)
7940: GTA Practicum    
Distribution Courses
(9 hrs)
TPC or Rhet/Comp or linguistics or Creative Writing Comparative Literature, Genre or Author Course

Special: Technology and Culture, Globalism, Sustainability, or Diversity

Major Area Courses (9 hrs) Pre-1800 Literature Post-1800 Literature 7790 Literary Theory: Issues & Approaches or 7800: Studies in Literary Theory
Minor Area Courses (6 hrs) 2 graduate courses in English or another discipline relative to the student’s professional & academic goals; approved by the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee    
Elective Courses (3 hors) 1 graduate course in English    
Capstone Portfolio and oral exam    

32 credit hours:

  • 9 credits major area courses (must include both British and American literature)
  • 9 credits distribution courses
  • 6 credits in minor area courses
  • 6 credits in elective coursework
  • 1 credit Literature Practicum
  • 1 credit Rhetoric and Composition Practicum
  • Portfolio/exam
  • Foreign language requirement

Concentration in Literature:

Your ePortfolio should be addressed to an external audience and communicate your goals after graduation. Typically, students who concentrate in literature wish to follow the master’s program with further graduate/professional study, careers in education, or careers in administrative/professional roles. If these three broad categories do not articulate your ambitions, please speak with your portfolio director about crafting an ePortfolio tailored to your goals.

Your e-portfolio should include a significant representation of the work you’ve done while a Master’s student. It should include a thoughtful selection of materials from your coursework and teaching chosen in consultation with your advisor. It may include evidence of co-curricular or volunteer work when relevant. The artifacts in your portfolio should be framed by brief, summative writing that explains artifacts and draws connections between them. The e-portfolio should demonstrate the ways that you have integrated your learning from different parts of your degree into a unified understanding.

All ePortfolios should include:

  • A CV or resume, organized in a way that reflects the student’s intended audience and purpose
  • A reflective essay that synthesizes the work done in the master’s program and explains its relation to future plans and goals
  • A curated combination of revised and new work, contextualized by brief explanatory writing
  • Visual elements that reflect and reinforce the student’s burgeoning professional identity

For example, Student A has an eye on a variety of non-academic jobs. The student is using the portfolio to showcase abilities as a researcher, editor, and writer. The artifacts highlight community engagement, including a handbook that the student helped revise for the Auburn Parks Department. The portfolio includes a revised seminar paper, with a reflection that describes the student’s research process and synthesis of sources. The student has included a digital humanities project and several composition assignments, all framed with writing that draws connections between artifacts and emphasizes the skills and ideas most central to the student’s professional identity.

Student B is applying to Ph.D. programs in literature. She has worked closely with her advisor to meaningfully revise one of her American literature papers. She has written a brief reflection on how that paper relates to current critical conversations in women’s and transnational literature. She has also produced a two-page research statement and a statement of intent that she can adapt for the programs to which she is applying. She has arranged her portfolio thematically to reflect her interest in Gender and American Literature. On her teaching page, she has elegantly incorporated course materials that show her interest in Early American Literature and Women’s Life Writing (a lesson plan, an assignment, writing prompts, handouts). Her visual elements include a picture of her presenting a paper at the departmental graduate conference and a picture of a stack of books that she used in her last seminar paper.

Student C plans to apply for teaching jobs at 2-year colleges. He has revised a pedagogy paper with the feedback of his adviser. His reflective essay focuses on his teaching philosophy. He also has produced a draft of a statement on how she addresses issues of diversity in her classroom. His teaching portfolio is extensive, including Powerpoint slides and a link to an online course wiki. He included highlights from several course papers, with writing that discusses his research strategies and revision process. His visual elements include pictures of him holding a classroom discussion. He has asked permission from his students to use their images on his website, according to a caption below the photo.

The following examples come from former MA students in the department:

Think of them as models for representing the breadth and specificity of your own experience.

For more information

Derek Ross

Derek Ross

Director of Graduate Studies
8072 Haley Center
(334) 844-9073

Last Updated: August 09, 2018