Department of English
Director of Graduate Studies
The aim of the Princeton graduate program in English is to produce well-trained and productive scholars, sympathetic and intelligent critics, and effective and imaginative teachers. The five-year Ph.D. program is intense but also supportive. Princeton maintains a feeling of intimacy despite being a high-powered research university; it is large enough to sustain an extremely diverse, cosmopolitan, and lively intellectual community, but small enough so that no one need feel lost in it. Because this is a residential university, whose traditions emphasize teaching as well as research, the faculty is easily accessible to students and concerned about their progress.
The faculty of the Department of English is notable for its scholarly reputation, commitment to teaching, and accessibility. Faculty are committed as a department to a diverse range of critical approaches to the discipline. In addition to offering seminars in every major historical field of concentration, from medieval to contemporary literatures, we offer a wide range of theoretical specializations in fields such as feminist theory, gender studies, psychoanalysis, Marxism, New Historicism, environmental studies, political and social theory, and cultural studies. Students may take courses as well in cognate departments such as comparative literature, classics, philosophy, linguistics, history, and art history.
The University offers programs in creative writing, dance, theater, and visual arts. Although these programs do not have graduate courses, graduate students are welcome to participate when space permits. The faculty in creative writing is one of the most outstanding in the country, and includes Jeffrey Eugenides, Chang-rae Lee, Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, James Richardson, Edmund White, and C.K. Williams. John McPhee is a faculty member in the Council of the Humanities.
Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two foreign languages as soon as possible after enrollment. The languages normally recommended are French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, but other languages relevant to a student’s program of research may be substituted with the approval of the director of graduate studies. The language requirement must be satisfied before the completion of the general examination.
The Course of Study
The graduate program in English is a five-year program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). During the first two years, students prepare for the general examination through work in seminars and directed or independent reading. The third, fourth, and fifth years are devoted to teaching in undergraduate courses and to the writing of the dissertation.
First and second years. The major work of the first two years should reinforce the student’s general knowledge of English and American literature. During the second year, students also begin intensive work in their special fields of interest, which may include a historical period, a genre, or literary theory and criticism. Students choose their courses at the beginning of each term with the aid of the departmental director of graduate studies. While programs are flexible, students normally enroll in three seminars each term to complete the required 12 courses by the end of the second year .
Students qualify for the Master of Arts (M.A.) by satisfactorily completing all required course work, the course distribution requirement, and the language requirement.
The general examination, taken in October of the third year, is the main qualifying examination for the Ph.D. The purpose of this examination is to prepare students to present themselves as strong job candidates with wide-ranging knowledge of two or more fields. The examination committee consists of three faculty members, who assist the student in preparing a reading list for the examination. Students elect to be examined on either two major fields, or one major and two minor fields. They also decide, in consultation with their examination committee, which examination format is most appropriate for them: an eight-hour written examination, or a two-hour oral examination.
Third, fourth, and fifth years. Students are strongly encouraged to continue taking courses in the third year and beyond, both in the English department and in related departments such as comparative literature. After completing the general examination, all students participate in a dissertation seminar led by a faculty member in which they write a thesis proposal. This dissertation proposal becomes the basis of a one-hour oral examination, after which students continue to work on the dissertation with the guidance of two faculty directors.
Final Public Oral Examination
A final public oral examination is given after each candidate’s dissertation has been read, approved, and deposited in the requisite number of copies. The examination has two parts. The first consists of a 30-minute lecture on the dissertation to cover the following topics: a justification of the subject treated; an account of possible methods of treating the subject and a justification of the method chosen; an account of any new contributions made; and a consideration of the possibility of future studies of the same kind, including an account of plans for future scholarship and publication. In the second, the student answers a series of questions growing out of subjects presented in the lecture and sometimes relating to the teaching of literary material dealt with in the dissertation.
All graduate students who have passed the general examination are required to teach in undergraduate courses as part of their preparation. While the minimum requirement is six hours, most students teach more than this. The department offers many opportunities for teaching experience in conjunction with its large and popular undergraduate program. Students may teach in the writing program, conduct sections of large lecture courses, or direct precepts in upper-division courses. This teaching is supervised by experienced members of the faculty. The department also offers, on an annual basis, a teacher training seminar.
Graduate students are welcome to participate in a variety of seminars and colloquia organized by the English department and other departments and programs. These may involve the discussion of an article or problem, the presentation of a paper, or a forum for debate. Colloquia also include one-day conferences on a number of topics. Students may also participate in the meetings of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies; attend the Christian Gauss Seminars in Criticism; and involve themselves in any of the many colloquia under the aegis of the Council of the Humanities. The department sponsors graduate-student-organized colloquia that are based around fields of interest. Currently there are five major colloquia that include the American, Renaissance, 18th-century and Romantic studies, Victorian, and 20th-century fields. In addition, there is a thriving graduate student Works in Progress lunchtime talk series.
Kathleen M. Davis
ENG 502 Old English Poetry
ENG 503 Linguistic Thought
Hans C. Aarsleff
ENG 508 Studies in Engl Lang:1400 to Present
Harry J. Solo
ENG 510 Old Norse
Hans C. Aarsleff
ENG 511 Special Studies in Medieval Literature
ENG 514 Middle English Religious Literature
D. V. Smith
ENG 515 Chaucer II
John V. Fleming
ENG 521 Spenser
ENG 522/COM 523 The Renaissance in England
ENG 523 Renaissance Drama
Lawrence N. Danson
ENG 524 Special Studies in Renaissance Drama
Oliver M. Arnold
ENG 525 Shakespeare I
Oliver M. Arnold
ENG 526 Shakespeare
Lawrence N. Danson
ENG 531 Milton
ENG 532 Early 17th Century
ENG 533 Literature of the Restoration, 1660-1700
Joanna M. Picciotto
ENG 541 Restoration and 18th-Century Drama
Margaret A. Doody
ENG 543/COM 553 The Eighteenth Century in Europe
ENG 554 Race and American Literature
Daphne A. Brooks
ENG 545 Special Studies in the 18th Century
Sophie G. Gee
ENG 550 The Romantic Period
Susan J. Wolfson
ENG 551 Special Problems in Romanticism
Susan J. Wolfson
ENG 552 The Victorians
Deborah E. Nord
ENG 553 Special Studies in the Nineteenth Century
Meredith A. Martin
ENG 555 American Literary Traditions
ENG 556/AAS 556 African-American Literature
Daphne A. Brooks
ENG 557 Special Studies in American Authors
ENG 558 American Poetry
James B. Longenbach
ENG 559 Studies in the American Novel
Lee C. Mitchell
ENG 560 Special Studies in the Drama
Tamsen O. Wolff
ENG 561/COM 561 Idle Talk, The Everyday, and the Novel
ENG 562 Modern Drama
Michael W. Cadden
ENG 563 Poetics
Maureen N. McLane
ENG 564 Literature of the Fin de Siecle
Elaine C. Showalter
ENG 565 The Victorian Novel
Jeff E. Nunokawa
ENG 566/COM 566 Studies in the English Novel
Maria A. DiBattista
ENG 567 Special Studies in Modernism
Anne A. Cheng
ENG 568/COM 568 Criticism and Theory
Zahid R. Chaudhary
ENG 571/SPA 585/MUS 521 Literary and Cultural Theory
Alexandra T. Vazquez
ENG 572/COM 572 Selected Topics in Criticism and Theory
Eduardo L. Cadava
ENG 573 Problems in Literary Study
Simon E. Gikandi
ENG 574 Literature and Society
Susan A. Maslan
ENG 575 Literature & Society
ENG 576/WOM 576 Literature and Gender
Gayle M. Salamon
ENG 581 Seminar in Pedagogy
Benjamin L. Widiss, Casey M. Walker
ENG 599 Tpcs in Contemporary & Critical Practice
Michael G. Wood, Donna V. Jones