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Graduate Research Clusters

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Our department has many research strengths in traditional literature specializations such as British and American literatures, 19th and 20th century literatures, and cultural studies. To get a sense of our research strengths please take a look at our Graduate Faculty and Graduate Student biographies.

That said, there are several areas of specialization that we believe to be particularly strong in faculty and other support. These areas of specialization make up what we call our "research clusters" and are supported through innovative coursework,  partnerships with cultural institutions , diverse professional development opportunities, and major on-going research projects led by distinguished faculty. Our students also participate in working and reading groups (link in text) within these areas, forming interdisciplinary communities that organize symposiums and other unique opportunities to study outside of the classroom. 

Print and Material Culture Studies
media old and new gradaute student working group at the barns

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 physical texts and objects 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 physical texts and objects compel us to engage, interpret, and understand our world. 

Our students engaging with Print and Material Culture Studies benefit from a variety of on-campus and community resources including: Center for Material Culture Studies, Delaware Public Humanities Institute (DELPHI), Winterthur Museum & Library, and the Hagley Museum & Library. Graduate students participate in working groups, major research projects, and symposiums such as: Media Old and New Working Group, ThingStor: A Material Culture Database, Methods in Material Culture Graduate Student Group, and the Emerging Scholars Graduate Symposium. 

Black Cultural Studies
Image of Students in "The Black Atlantic and the Archive" seminar

At UD, this research cluster encompasses the study of Black culture with an emphasis on African American and African diasporic literature. Students study literary, historical, visual, and musical texts as entwined with cultural and political movements, aesthetic experimentation, historical memory, critical theory, and public humanities. Our program encourages a truly interdisciplinary and transnational lens for studying the cultural history of race, slavery, colonialism, modernity, and post-colonialism. 

Our students with a research focus in Black Cultural studies often work closely with distinguished faculty not only in the English Department, but in History, Art History, and Africana Studies as well. Students also benefit from a variety of on-campus resources through the Morris Library, Special Collections, and UD Museums. UD is also conveniently located near a multitude of museums and libraries in Washington DC and Philadelphia. 

Prospective students interested in this research field are encouraged to apply for the African American Public Humanities Initiative Scholarship (AAPHI) by checking the appropriate box in the SLATE application and declaring interest in the personal statement. 


Environmental Humanities
Graduate students in environmental humanties class

This mode of study encourages students to intervene in the ongoing and interdisciplinary conversation on the ways that texts affect our engagement with the natural world. ​Many of the most basic environmental questions are humanist. 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 environmental issues 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? 

Writing Studies
Graduate Student at CWPA

​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.

Megan O'Donnell used the GIS skills she learned in Prof Ed Larkin's "Mapping Transatlantic Space and Time" seminar to chart the movements of imperial actors in the notorious 1825 shipwreck of the Kent East Indiaman.  Exploring such narratives allows us to better understand the operations of empire and globalization, as well as the international circulation of people, texts and ideas.

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