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The English literature program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in a wide-ranging study of literature written in English. Our students may experience not only complete coverage of the major periods and genres of English, American and Anglophone literature, but also the variety of critical approaches and concerns that characterize the field today, such as nation, gender, race and sexuality. In addition to researching literary traditions and analyzing works of imagination, such as poetry, drama and fiction, literary studies also focuses on popular culture, oral traditions, folklore, film studies and digital media. Literary studies as a discipline is uniquely positioned to be a force for interdisciplinarity in the humanities, having strong links with research centers and programs on campus, including Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), Women’s Studies, African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano/a Studies, Humanities, Justice Studies and the Honors College. Students who major in English literature are enthusiastic about engaging with other historical periods and cultures through the imaginative writings produced in those eras and locales. They want to examine their own time and place more deeply by studying creative responses to them. They want to think critically and creatively about their own place in the world. They want to express their perceptions about these matters clearly and persuasively in writing. They want to read, write and think about literature and culture in a more intelligent and disciplined way. While our students may initially be attracted to English literature because they are following their passion, they also find that this area of study trains them in skills necessary in the job market: writing ability, critical thinking, research and problem solving. It also prepares them for advanced study in graduate or professional schools. The study of English literature ultimately prepares students for a life of self-reflection, critical engagement with the world at large and meaningful employment.
Our department offers both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in literature. These degrees provide students the opportunity to do advanced work in literary study—British, American and Anglophone—with a distinguished faculty. They also prepare students for a variety of academic careers, from high school to university teaching.
The graduate English literature faculty at ASU consists of some of the top scholars in their fields, award-winning teachers and writers at the cutting edge of the discipline. Faculty members at the Tempe campus work closely with graduate students in the classroom, on their theses and dissertations, and on the other requirements leading to their degrees.
The ASU English department also offers opportunities for advanced work in such interdisciplinary areas as cultural studies (including visual cultures), performance studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, and gender and sexuality studies. Literary studies as a discipline is uniquely positioned to be a force for interdisciplinarity in the humanities, having strong links with research centers and programs on campus, including Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), Women’s Studies, African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano/a Studies and Justice Studies.
The English department is in a period of phenomenal faculty growth, and is committed to seeking out the best senior scholars as well as the most promising newcomers to the field, and our graduate students are among the primary beneficiaries. They are encouraged to achieve both a wide-ranging coverage in the subcategories of literature in English and in critical approaches, and a depth of expertise in their fields of specialization. ASU’s graduate faculty model also allows graduate student the opportunity to work closely with numerous distinguished scholars from outside the English department.
Graduate students in the literature programs are trained to become leading researchers in their fields, and are encouraged in the skills necessary to professionalization: conference presentations, publication, job-seeking skills, etc. Beginning immediately, they can apply for positions as teaching assistants, and thus gain valuable professional experience in a wide variety of classroom situations. This training pays off: our students are successful in finding academic jobs at all levels.
Robert Bjork specializes in Old English language and literature as well as Old Norse, modern Swedish, and medical writing. He was educated at Pomona College and UCLA.
Professor Castle teaches Irish Studies, Modernism, and Critical Theory. His books include Modernism and the Celtic Revival, Reading the Modernist Bildungsroman, The Literary Theory Handbook, A History of the Modernist Novel,
Deborah Clarke is the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel in the University Provost's Office and Professor in ASU's Department of English. Her primary field is twentieth century American fiction.
A Professor in the Dept. of English, Horan holds the PhD in Literature from UC, Santa Cruz. She publishes on Latin American & US Literature, Biography, Gender Studies, Translation, Spy and Detective (Crime) Fiction.
George Justice is a specialist in 18th century British literature, author and editor of scholarship on the literary marketplace, authorship, and women's writing.
Looser is an internationally recognized literary critic and expert in British women’s writings, the history of the novel, and Jane Austen. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and the TLS.
Professor Lussier specializes in European Romanticism, and his research has explored the relation of literature and art with religion and science. Recent work focuses on medical humanities.
Dr. Matsunaga holds a PhD in English Literature with an emphasis in British Romanticism and Digital Humanities. He is the Director of Digital Technology, Graduate Faculty, and an Academic Professional.
Prof. Newhauser has a PhD in English, with an emphasis on Medieval Studies. His areas of research interest include the moral tradition in intellectual history and sensory studies (sensology).
Claudia Sadowski-Smith is the author of The New Immigrant Whiteness: Race, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United States, Border Fictions, and the editor of Globalization on the Line.
Robert Sturges is a Professor of English at ASU, and also serves as the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. Bob's teaching and research interests include medieval literature and LGBTQ Studies.
Laura Tohe has written and co-authored five books. She is the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2019.
Just as Arizona State University believes in inclusion and the expansion of the academic enterprise, so our American literature program looks beyond the box of traditional academic study. We offer a vibrant array of options and unique opportunities. We are geographically situated to take advantage of our expertise in Indigenous American, Inter-American, Southwestern, and Border Studies. We are grounded in the intersection of literature, culture, and history, from a thriving program in abolitionist studies, comparative ethnic literatures, indigenous literature, and transnational U.S. literatures, to expertise in 19th century domesticity, 20th century automotive and economic culture, and 21st century immigration studies. We have the additional benefit of several distinguished writers who also teach and research American literature. The American literature program at Arizona State offers a stimulating experience that develops the next generation of scholars in the most innovative branch of English studies.
The 19th century British studies area has internationally known faculty who research and teach a range of topics in the period. Some strong thematic threads of our work include gender and society, natural history, science and literature, imperialism, and studies in urban and rural landscapes. Faculty maintain a very active publication portfolio providing innovations to literature and cultural studies of the period.
Our graduate students currently serve as bloggers for the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism. We participate in a bi-monthly colloquim. Additionally, our program offers teaching assistantships and opportunities to intern at the library archives.