Course Requirements

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Literature and Criticism


    A minimum of thirty hours of coursework (excluding the dissertation and, for certain students, the prerequisite Bibliographical Methods in English) is required beyond the M.A. Academic good standing is maintained with a 3.5 average in the coursework. Fulltime enrollment is normally three or four courses per semester. In summers, students may enroll for one or two courses for each of the two five week summer sessions. The thirty hours (normally ten courses each, carrying three semester hours of credit) includes a number of requirements, discussed in detail below.


    ENGL 674 Bibliographical Methods may be required of students whose backgrounds indicate that they will need additional preparation in order to perform satisfactorily in doctoral level courses. Bibliographical Methods is usually required for students who have not had such a course at the Masters level. This course is taken in addition to the 30 semester hours required by the program.

    A. Core Courses (6 s.h.) both courses required 

    These courses form the basis of much later work. While not prerequisites for other courses, they should be taken early in the program.

    ENGL 751 The History and Theory of Criticism
    ENGL 752 Literary Theory for the Teacher and Scholarly Writer

    The aims of the core courses are: 

    • To investigate the history of critical theory.
    • To define the theoretical, cultural, and ideological implications of the major movements in the western critical tradition, including critiques of that tradition.
    • To help students relate critical theory to their own research and to the literature classroom.
    • To help students learn to write for conference presentations and professional publications.

    B. Elective Courses (9 s.h.) 

    These courses in Traditional and Special Literatures focus on specific areas, topics, and theoretical approaches. Students can expect to take major roles in preparing materials for the class. Research papers are also expected. There are requirements in both categories of courses.

    I. Courses in Traditional Literature (6 s.h.) - choose two courses

    ENGL 761 Topics in American Literature before 1870
    ENGL 762 Topics in American Literature since 1870
    ENGL 763 Topics in British Literature before 1660
    ENGL 764 Topics in British Literature since 1660
    ENGL 765 Topics in Literature as Genre
    ENGL 766 Topics in Comparative Literature

    These courses have several objectives: 

    • To examine literature in historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts, addressing a specific topic or theme within a period.
    • To compare and contrast genres and significant thematic concerns.
    • To analyze linguistic and literary conventions.
    • To trace and assess critical responses to the literature of a period or a topic.
    • To use the critical perspectives of the core courses to develop scholarly assessments of individual works.

    II. Courses in Special Literatures (3 s.h.) — choose one course 

    ENGL 771 Topics in Postmodern Literature
    ENGL 772 Topics in Women's Literature
    ENGL 773 Topics in Minority Literatures

    The aims of these courses are: 

    • To acquaint students with non-canonical works in British and American literature and in other literatures written in English or translated into English.
    • To explore specific thematic concerns and compare these concerns with those found in traditional, canonical literature.
    • To examine social, cultural, and political assumptions and challenges.
    • To assess critical practices for reading and teaching this literature.
    • To analyze non-traditional special literatures.
    • To use the critical perspectives of the core courses to develop scholarly assessments of individual works.

    C. Seminars (6 s.h.) choose two courses 

    The seminars incorporate literary approaches and scholarly techniques learned in earlier courses. They are designed to be taken at the end of the student's program. The development of a research project resulting in a paper suitable for publication or presentation is an element of all seminars.

    ENGL 783 Literary Theory Applied to a Major American Author or Theme
    ENGL 784 Literary Theory Applied to a Major British Author or Theme
    ENGL 785 Comparative Literary Theory Applied to Traditional and Special Literatures

    The aims of these seminars are: 

    • To undertake, in a seminar context, a full scholarly and critical study of a literary topic.
    • To put into practice the skills in writing, presentation, and critical analysis gained in the core courses and the courses in traditional and special literatures.
    • To help students produce a long critical paper of publishable quality on an aspect of the seminar topic.
    • To prepare the student for the work involved in the dissertation and other advanced research projects that the student may choose to explore in his or her career as a teacher and scholar.

    D. Open Electives (6 s.h.) — choose three courses 

    In addition to the above requirements of seven courses (21 semester hours of credit), three additional courses offered by the Program (for 9 semester hours of credit) may be selected as electives.

    Total Course Credit Hours: 30 

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    Course Descriptions 

    General English course descriptions are available from the Graduate Catalog.

    Course Details and Schedules 

    Specific course offerings by semester are available from the Graduate Office for Literature and Criticism and Composition and TESOL. You may register for classes on line through MyIUP.