Graduate Handbook - Concentrations

There are six plans or graduate concentrations in the English Department:

  • Literary Studies (Plan A)
  • Rhetoric and Composition (Plan B)
  • Creative Writing (Plan C)
  • Modern Studies (Plan E) (Please note: no admissions beginning Fall 2011)
  • Professional Writing (Plan G)
  • Media, Cinema and Digital Studies (Plan H)

Although the concentrations allow for flexibility and interaction, students are advised to consult with their advisors and plan coordinators about procedures that may differ from plan to plan.

Graduate students in the Department of English apply and are admitted into a particular plan of study. Each plan of study (or track) has its own requirements for courses and advancement towards a degree; be sure that you are familiar with those specific to your plan.

Students who wish to transfer into another plan should know that such "lateral" admission is not always possible. Students should first consult with both the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and the director of the plan they wish to enter, to discuss the feasibility of a transfer. If advised to proceed, students seeking transfer and admission into a different track are required to submit, minimally, transcripts and a statement of purpose for the new plan to the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and to the director of the plan they wish to enter. Additional materials may be required--possibly including a full application with recommendations and writing samples. Acceptance by the new plan's Advisory Committee and the approval of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies is required for all transfers.

Please note: because most plans only accept applications once a year, students who are considering such a transfer should consult with the director of the plan they are considering well in advance. In addition, students who transfer between plans may be required to take additional classes in order to acquire needed background in the new study area.

Plan A: Literary Studies

The Literary Studies concentration differs from traditional English graduate programs in both the diversity and intensive focus of its offerings. While students are expected to develop historical depth in their scholarship, they are not required to cover a prescribed canon of English and American masterpieces or major texts. Instead, they are encouraged to explore various critical approaches to the cultural, aesthetic, and historical properties of literary texts as a prelude to their own advanced and individualized research. At the master's level, and more extensively at the doctoral level, the concentration's course requirements provide options for work in the Department's other graduate concentrations. With appropriate planning students may thus design programs of study that incorporate work from one or more of these concentrations in support of their primary research interests and professional goals.

Plan B: Rhetoric and Composition

The concentration in Rhetoric and Composition grounds practice in theory by providing students with a broad background in rhetorical theory and the opportunity to apply that knowledge in teaching beginning, intermediate, and advanced writing courses. Our approach is many-faceted, providing opportunities for specializing in current rhetorical theory, history of rhetoric, cultural studies, peer tutoring, and the teaching of writing. Other research interests include the essay as an aesthetic genre, feminism, film, teaching English as a second language, and ethnographic case studies of the writing process. Students often enrich their work by taking courses in other concentrations and in other UWM departments. Most importantly, the concentration in Rhetoric and Composition aims to develop a community of teachers, researchers, and theorists who support each other's work, share ideas, and participate in shaping our program goals.

Plan C: Creative Writing

The Creative Writing concentration offers qualified students the opportunity to work intensively in either fiction or poetry under the supervision of an experienced and widely published faculty. At the master's level, the student combines graduate workshops in fiction or poetry with courses in literature, some of which stress the craft and theory of the genre in which the student has chosen to work. At the doctoral level, students continue the development of their creative writing in workshops and tutorials, while also establishing a secondary field of study in literature and criticism. The dissertation itself may be a novel, a collection of stories or poems, or a substantial work of creative non-fiction. The concentration in Creative Writing features guest writers whenever possible and sponsors a literary magazine, The Cream City Review. With its combination of curricular and extra-curricular activities, Plan C strives to create an atmosphere of commitment to the creative task, a genuine community of working writers and poets within the framework of a metropolitan university.

Plan E: Modern Studies

PLEASE NOTE: there will be no admissions into Modern Studies beginning Fall 2011.

Plan E (Modern Studies) is restructuring and is not accepting applications. Students interested in Critical Theory, Literary Theory and Cultural Studies, please look at Plan A (Literature and Cultural Theory). Students interested in Media Theory, Film Studies, Digital Studies and Popular Culture, please look at Plan H (Media, Cinema and Digital Studies).

Modern Studies is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on culture, media, and theory. It queries "the modern" from four perspectives-modernity, postmodernity, the early modern, and the global modern-using methods from cinema and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, literary studies, material culture, postcolonial studies, urban studies, digital studies, and visual culture.

Program requirements emphasize an integrated knowledge of cultural productions and critical theory. Students choose from a broad offering of courses, within and outside the English Department, as they shape their own individualized MA and Ph.D program of study. The Modern Studies program is closely affiliated with UWM's Center for 21st Century Studies and the Center for International Education and students are expected to engage these Centers' cultural programming.

Plan G: Professional Writing

The graduate concentration in Professional Writing is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students to engage in professional writing scholarship and research, teach business, technical, and professional writing, or work as technical communicators. According to their individual interests and career goals, students can develop in-depth knowledge of professional writing history, theory, research, pedagogy, and practice, while also specializing in one or more related disciplines such as rhetoric, linguistics, creative writing, information resources, computer science, psychology, organizational communication, and graphic arts.

Our approach is to ground theory in practice. Students learn to analyze complex professional writing situations and contexts based on a variety of theoretical perspectives, and gain practice in basing document-related decisions on multiple theoretical approaches. We also continuously encourage students to critique existing theories and practices, and to develop new disciplinary approaches of their own.

Plan H: Media, Cinema and Digital Studies

This concentration offers a flexible and individuated course of study for students interested in film studies, media, digital studies or popular culture. Students are encouraged to combine theory, history, analysis or digital textualities with explorations of new and developing global cultural practices, shifts in industry structures and technology, and developments in narrative and formal conventions.

Students in MCDS can build their own graduate curriculum at the MA and PhD levels, drawing from courses in film studies, television, media theory, cultural studies, critical theory, multi-media writing, art history, alternative textual production, digital studies, gaming, technology theory, history and more.

MA/MLIS Coordinated Degree Program

In cooperation with the School of Information Studies, the Department of English offers the Master of Arts/Master of Library Information Science (MA/MLIS) coordinated degree program to prepare students for positions as humanities librarians. Students enrolled in this program concurrently pursue an MA degree in English and an MLIS degree. Admission to the MA/MLIS degree is contingent upon acceptance to graduate studies by the Department of English and the School of Information Studies. Therefore, students must apply to both programs as well as to the Graduate School. Prerequisite to the award of either degree in this program is the simultaneous award of its counterpart degree.

Students interested in the MA/MLIS program are required to choose one of the six study concentrations in the Department of English graduate studies program. Those concentrations are:

  • Literary Studies (Plan A)
  • Rhetoric and Composition (Plan B)
  • Creative Writing (Plan C)
  • Modern Studies (Plan E) (Please note: no admissions beginning Fall 2011)
  • Professional Writing (Plan G)
  • Media, Cinema and Digital Studies (Plan H)

In addition, students are expected to follow all the requirements and standards of the Department of English with one exception: the MA portion of the MA/MLIS degree requires the successful completion of at least 21 credits as opposed to the 30 credit requirement of the standard MA program offered by the Department of English.

Students will indicate their choice of the MA/MLIS degree on the Graduate School admissions application as well as on the application to the Department of English. Study concentration selection must also be indicated on the Department of English admissions application.

For information on applying to the Master of Library Information Science program, go to the School of Information Studies web site.