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Program Overview

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Image of graduate students in Winterthur's "British Design History" Course in front of Buckingham Palace

​Samantha Nystrom (center) traveled to England in Winterthur's British Design History course as part of her research in Print and Material Culture. Students interested in funded participation in the seminar should apply to the DGS in October.

Graduate students study with internationally distinguished faculty in areas  such as Early Modern Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, American Literature, and African American Literature, as well as newer areas such as the Environmental Humanities. However, our program is best defined by our emphasis on research that cuts across traditional boundaries. 

To underscore our methodological strengths the department has identified four Research Clusters in the graduate program (see below). Students are encouraged (but not required) to take courses in several of these areas.

Research Clusters
Graduate student in pottery class

​PIctured: Helena Kim experimenting with "weathering" pottery in a Fall 2019 Environmental Humanities seminar

We are proud to host the following interdisciplinary research clusters in which coursework is regularly offered:

Writing Studies

Writing Studies entails the study of writing in academic and public spaces, emphasizing the intersections of theory, pedagogy, and literate practice. This field of study includes composition theory, rhetorical theory, literacy studies, narrative analysis, storytelling, writing centers, writing program administration, technical and professional writing, and research methodologies. It also encompasses a wide array of special topics courses on public discourse, genre theory, race and writing, disability studies, and writing and emerging technologies, to name just a few.

Print and Material Culture

Print and Material Culture examines cultures past and present through the physical objects and physical texts they produce. How do objects and texts, from newspapers and posters to photographs, maps and computer screens, shape our interactions with the physical world? How do these texts, objects, and archives prompt us to view identities in complex ways? This mode of study encourages students to intervene in the ongoing and interdisciplinary conversation on the ways material texts and objects compel us to engage, interpret, and understand our world.

Black Cultural Studies

This field encompasses the study of African American and African diasporic literature as entwined with cultural and political movements, aesthetic experimentation, historical memory, critical theory, and public humanities. The field turns an interdisciplinary and transnational lens on the cultural history of race, slavery, colonialism, modernity, and post-colonialism. At UD, African American literary and cultural studies operate in close collaboration with the departments of History, Art History and Africana Studies as well as the UD Library, Museums, and Press. 

Environmental Humanities

Many of the most basic environmental questions are humanistic. How have human relationships to the non-human world changed over time? Why do we have environmental problems? What are their causes? Which groups are most vulnerable to them, and why do these injustices persist? What shapes our ideas about relationships between humans and their environments? How does narrative shape our ideas about the 'human' and interrogate its global impacts?  This field of study encourages students to intervene in the ongoing and interdisciplinary conversation on the ways that texts affect our engagement with the natural world.

We are currently in the process of having these research clusters formalized. In the meantime, students interested in learning more about our curriculum should consult the Graduate Handbook  or contact the DGS with questions.

Resources and Projects Across Campus
Students and faculty in the Colored Conventions Project (2018)

​The Colored Conventions Project grew out of a gradute seminar offered by Prof. Foreman. Participants are building an online hub that "brings buried African American history to digital life"

​Students interested in the Race and Ethnicity concentration can make use of the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art and the Ishmael Reed papers, both housed on our campus. Students may be eligible to participate in the African American Public Humanities Initiative (AAPHI) at the University of Delaware, which provides financial support for African American studies with an emphasis on collections-based research, public scholarship, and digital humanities.

Students interested in Print and Material Culture, the Center for Material Culture Studies on campus would be an important resource. Students also have the opportunity to connect to the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and intern at the Winterthur Library and Museum.

Students interested in the "print" side of this track, or in the transatlantic track, often work with 19th Century British Literature at the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection on campus.

 These concentrations are designed to cut across periods and national literatures. So wherever your interest lies, you will likely find faculty here who can lead you to exciting and unique research opportunities.

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  • Department of English
  • 203 Memorial Hall
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2361
  • english@udel.edu