The Department of English Language and Literature is committed to theoretical and historical analysis of literature and culture. Consistently among the most popular classes among MAPH students, English courses cover a broad range of chronological periods, subfields, media, and genres. During their MAPH year, students can choose to pursue all of their coursework within the Department or limit their selection to just a few English courses. Students who take English courses also often enroll in courses in Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, Philosophy, and Theater and Performance Studies.

Selected Faculty

Portrait of Deborah Nelson

Deborah Nelson

Late 20th-Century U.S. Culture and Politics, 20th-century American Literature, Gender and Sexuality
Portrait of Sianne Ngai

Sianne Ngai

Aesthetic Theory | Critical Theory | American Literature | Feminist and Queer Studies | Cultural Studies

Sample Courses

ENGL 40464 - The Lives of Others (Darrel Chia)
In this course, we take up the inscrutability of others through a range of narratives about politically, socially, and geographically distant others from the early 20th century. Some of these texts meditate on the general problem of living with others, while the rest take on the limits of empathy, access, and friendship, whether explicitly or in their formal arrangement. Specifically, we focus on works that engage with an ethics or “work on the self” as a preliminary to having knowledge of others, including Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives, E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, Levi-Strauss’ Tristes Tropiques, Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land, and J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.

ENGL 32300 - Marxism and Modern Culture (Loren Kruger)
This course begins with fundamental texts on ideology and the critique of capitalist culture by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci, Althusser, Wilhelm Reich and Raymond Williams, before moving to Marxist aesthetics, from the orthodox Lukács to the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Benjamin) to the heterodox (Brecht). It concludes with contemporary debates around Marxism and imperialism (Lenin, Fanon, and others), and Marxism and media, including the internet.

ENGL 40180 - Women Writing God (Sarah Kunjummen)
This course examines imaginative works by women that take on the task of representing divine or supernatural being from the medieval era to the present. Drawing on the work of critics such as Luce Irigaray, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Judith Butler, we explore what strategies these writers employ to depict an entity simultaneously understood to be unrepresentable and to have a masculine image. Texts range from premodern mystics such as Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

ENGL 32104 - Hymns (Frances Ferguson)
This course will track hymns from the early modern period through the late eighteenth century,  examining the evolution of the hymn as a literary form and focusing on obsolescence and adaptation in literary transmission. The course covers the hymns of the Hebrew Bible, the culture of psalters, and the development of congregational hymns, ending with a discussion of “Amazing Grace,” its use in the British abolition movement, and the push of the literary hymn away from religion altogether in literary hymns and the odes of Shelley and Keats.

See the English Department course page for additional courses and descriptions.

Lawrence Grauman Jr. Fellowship Fund

The Grauman Fellowship, made possible by a generous legacy gift from Lawrence Grauman Jr. (AM '63), supports MAPH students studying English and/or Creative Writing, with a strong preference whenever possible for students who focus their studies on nonfiction writing or literary journalism. 

MAPH applicants who plan to work on creative nonfiction or literary journalism can indicate an interest in the Grauman Fellowship on their application.

Recent English Thesis Projects

"Palimpsest; or, Assemblage as Methodology for Black Study"
Kameryn Alexa Carter, MAPH '21
Advisor: Bill Brown

"Eco-Existentialism: Robinson Jeffers' The Inhumanist as a Portrayal of Kierkegaardian Faith"
Andrew Farry, MAPH '21
Advisor: Jennifer Scappettone

"An Alternative Reality: The Human-Plant Dyad in Ling Shuhua’s “Qixia” and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse"
Zhengqian Li, MAPH '21
Advisor: Maud Ellman

"Blood, Race, and the Occult in Pauline E. Hopkins' Of One Blood"
Bre'Anna Girdy, MAPH '21
Advisor: Kenneth Warren

"Reclamations of Trans Monstrosity in Contemporary Interactive Fiction: A Theory of Care"
Theo Unkrich, MAPH '21
Advisor: Patrick Jagoda

"“Beloved, Household Spirit”: Coming of Age with Ghosts in Beloved and Little Women"
Hannah Chen, MAPH '20
Advisor: Elaine Hadley