English Department

Stony Brook’s Department of English, in the College of Arts and Sciences, is known for scholarship and teaching. Over the past ten years, faculty members have published more than 47 books of criticism, fiction, and poetry. Among the many awards individuals have won are the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, Guggenheim fellowships, Fulbright research and teaching fellowships, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and grants. Five faculty members have received both the Chancellor’s and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, two have been appointed SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professors, and two have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors. Supplementing the resources of the English department’s staff are campus institutes with which the department is affiliated. The Humanities Institute provides a place for interdisciplinary and theoretical work, offers an annual graduate student seminar, and sponsors an ongoing lecture series and annual conferences of international speakers.

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts program pursue a course of study that includes courses in historical periods, literary genres, topics in gender, race and cultural studies, and various writing workshops. The program offers students the opportunity to broaden as well as deepen their knowledge of literature while also developing their own writing skills. This course of study leads to the Master of Arts degree and requires 30 credits, including a master’s thesis, for completion. While pursuing the M.A. in English, students may also earn an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in women’s studies, cultural studies, or composition studies.

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program pursue a course of study that is designed, in large part, around individual interests and that moves from a broad-based survey to a more narrowly focused specialization. Eleven courses are required of each student. EGL 600, The Discipline of Literary Studies, must be taken during the first fall semester of study, as it introduces students to the variety of approaches to literature represented in current criticism. Students select their remaining courses in consultation with faculty advisors; these courses are intended to strengthen the student’s literary background and theoretical knowledge, and further define chosen areas of inquiry. To accommodate the latter goal, students may take courses in other departments with approval from the graduate director. While pursuing the Ph.D. in English, students may also earn an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in women’s studies, cultural studies, or composition studies.

Corresponding to the pattern of study that underlies the Ph.D. program are the oral examination and the special field conversation that all students take. The first, a three-hour general examination taken at the end of the fifth semester, enables each student to concentrate on three literary periods or two literary periods and one issue, genre, or theory relevant to the student’s interests. The two-hour special field conversation, conducted in the sixth semester, focuses on the student’s intended area of research and fosters the bibliographical and methodological skills needed to compose the dissertation proposal.

Ph.D. students receiving financial support teach one course each semester. Teaching assignments are varied and flexible. Teaching assistants teach courses in composition or introductory courses in literature, and assist professors in large lecture courses. During their first semester of teaching writing at Stony Brook, students must enroll in the Teaching Practicum, which provides them with pedagogical theory and teaching supervision All Ph.D. students on financial support must be registered as full-time students.