College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Literature MA Program

Students pursuing the M.A. in the literature option are introduced to the practices, challenges, and rewards of conducting original investigations in English 500: Introduction to Literary Research. Students broaden their knowledge by taking two two-course sequences from different periods, examining the canons of English, American, and World Literature, as well as studying the processes by which such canons are formed and reformed. Students also study one of the major genres in depth, which contributes to their expertise in specific periods, genres. This work prepares students for their capstone project: either the comprehensive M.A. Exam or the composition of a M.A. thesis. Through these projects, students demonstrate their mastery of the literary canon, their ability to conduct research in a sharply defined area, and their ability to synthesize this work in writing.

Their studies will prepare them for a number of career paths, whether they choose to continue their education in a Ph.D. program, pursue or enhance a teaching career in high school or community college classrooms, or adapt their skills to other professions where critical thinking, writing, and research are necessary for success.

Click on the bar below for details on the required courses.

1. Literature Requirements and Directed Electives

Required Coursework

Literature (24 units)

ENG 500: Intro to Literary Studies

Two historical sequences

ENG 551/552: Studies in English Lit

  1. to 1500
  2. 1500-1660
  3. 1660-1800
  4. 19th century
  5. 20th / 21th century

ENG 561/562: Studies in Amer. Lit

  1. to 1800
  2. 19th century
  3. 20th / 21th century

ENG 541/542: Studies in World Lit

One Genre Course

ENG 570: Literary Theory

ENG 571/572: Fiction

ENG 573/574: Drama

ENG 575/576: Poetry

One Culminating Experience

ENG 696: MA Thesis

or

ENG 697: Comprehensive Exam

Directed Electives

A student electing the Literature Option must choose among the following groups of directed electives:

Literature (24 units)

Rhetoric & Composition (24 units)

TESL (24 units)

A Genre Sequence (instead of a single course as above)

ENG 571/572: Fiction

ENG 573/574: Drama

ENG 575/576: Poetry

ENG 581: History of Rhetoric

ENG 584: Theory/Practice of Modern Rhetoric

ENG 521: Intro to TESL

Teaching Course

ENG 525: TESOL Composition

ENG 587: Teaching Basic Writing

ENG 588: Teaching Freshman Composition

ENG 590: Pedagogies of Drama

Three of the following:

ENG 582: Rhetoric & Poetics

ENG 583: Composition Theory

ENG 585: Special Topics

ENG 589: Pedagogies of Reading

ENG 522: Second Language Acquisition

Any three elective courses in literature

One of the following:

ENG 586: Teaching High School Composition

ENG 587: Teaching Basic Writing

ENG 588: Teaching Freshmen Composition

ENG 523: TESL Grammar

ENG 524: American Pronunciation

ENG 525: TESL Composition

ENG 526/A: Practicum

Back to top

2. Literature Culminating Experience: Comprehensive Examination

Students will sit for a timed Quote Analysis examination, and then be given a take-home examination where they will respond to essay prompts using textual evidence and research. One essay will be drawn from a “common read” text that will be announced the year prior to the exam. Exams will be evaluated by multiple faculty members using a grading rubric (see attachment below). 

Reading List

Reading lists for the exams will be automatically generated from faculty syllabi; no deviations will be allowed. Students will be expected to be familiar with all the texts on the syllabi. In addition, students will be asked to read a “common read.” Every year, faculty will decide on a single text that has not been taught in any course. Students will be expected to transfer their knowledge gained in the classroom to an unfamiliar text.

***For 2016-2017, the Common Read is Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter.***

***For 2017-2018, the Common Read is Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.***

Single Literature Examination

Part I: In-Class Quote Analysis Exam (2 hour in lab, Thursday, Week 7, 8:30-10:30)

  • Students are provided with a list of three unattributed quotations from each course. Students will be asked to identify the author/text for 10 total quotations. In addition, they must demonstrate their textual analysis skills and their familiarity with the period and/or genre.

Part II: Take-Home Essays (3-day exam: Exam Due Monday @ 9am, Week 8)

  • Students will produce two 6-8pp essays (~2000 words each), one from their coursework, and one from the common read.
    • Sequence Essay: Students are provided a list of essay questions, one from every sequence. While there will be no essay choices within a sequence, there will be essay choices across classes (i.e. there will only be one essay prompt for ENG 551/552B, but students can choose to respond to this essay prompt, or a prompt from their other sequence).
    • Common Read Essay: The common read will be decided by the graduate faculty and students will have one year to read the text, the scholarship surrounding it, and prepare their thoughts. On the exam, students will be provided a list of three essay prompts, from which they will select one.

Double Literature Examination

Part I: In-Class Quote Analysis Exam (4 hour in lab, Thursday, Week 7, 8:30-12:30)

  • Students are provided with a list of three unattributed quotations from each course. Students will be asked to identify the author/text for 20 total quotations. In addition, they must demonstrate their textual analysis skills and their familiarity with the period and/or genre. 

Part II: Take-Home Essays (1 Week: Exam Due Thursday, Week 8 @ 9am)

  • Students will produce four 6-8pp essays (~2000 words each), three from their coursework, and one from the common read.
    • Sequence Essays: Students are provided a list of essay questions, one from every sequence. While there will be no essay choices within a sequence, there will be essay choices across sequences (i.e. there will only be one essay prompt for ENG 551/552B, but students can choose to respond to this essay prompt, or a prompt from one of their other sequences).
    • Common Read Essay: The common read will be decided by the graduate faculty and students will have one year to read the text, the scholarship surrounding it, and prepare their thoughts. On the exam, students will be provided a list of three essay prompts, from which they will select one.

Study Resources

Students should study the following.

  • The grading rubric. These are the measures that will be used to assess your exam. Know what you’ll be tested on.
  • Your course syllabi. Review the texts from all your syllabi, not just the sequences. Part I IDs will come from the primary texts in the course, and studying the secondary texts will help prepare you for the essays in Part II.
    • To prepare for Part I, review the texts and write brief abstracts about them in which you identify the major themes, historical connections, genre/stylistic conventions, and a list of significant scenes and quotes.
  • The period/genre. Both Parts I and II evaluates your knowledge of the text’s historically-specific moment. Knowing the periods will help you situate the text, find unique analytical insights, and because faculty outside the field will be reading your responses, it will demonstrate your familiarity with the discourse.
  • The common read. The common read provides an opportunity for students to transfer their skills outside their coursework to a new text. You are expected to read the text and conduct significant research. In addition, you may find it helpful to form study groups and prewrite material. 

Back to top

3. Comprehensive Examination Timeline: Literature

For Fall 2015 (the Old Exam)

Comprehensive Examinations are held in Week 8 of Fall and Spring quarters. Students taking the literature comprehensive examination—regardless of whether it is your primary or secondary option—should contact Connie in the Graduate Office 1-2 quarters before you plan on "comp-ing" to obtain the appropriate reading list.

Students MUST ENROLL in ENG 697 to be eligible. However, enrolling in ENG 697 requires department authorization. One to two weeks prior to registration, email Connie Cuellar and let her know your intention to take the exam, the literature sequence in which you will be taking your exams, and your Bronco ID. Failure to do this means you will be unable to register for ENG 697, and thus unable to fulfill your culminating experience, or graduate.

Sample timeline: Student Y wants to take Professor X’s exam in Fall 2015. In Summer 2015, Student Y contacts Connie to obtain a reading list for Professor X’s exam. Student Y consults the registration calendar. Two weeks prior to registration, Student Y emails Connie with the appropriate information (which exam she'll be sitting for) regarding ENG 697. When registration opens, Student Y enrolls in ENG 697 for Spring 2016. Student Y is now prepared to take his/her comprehensive examinations in Week 8 of Spring 2016.

For Spring 2016 (the New Exam)

Comprehensive Examinations are held in Week 7-8 of Fall and Spring quarter (excluding Fall 15). Students taking the literature comprehensive examination—regardless of whether it is your primary or secondary option—should contact Connie in the Graduate Office 1-2 quarters before you plan on "comp-ing" to obtain the appropriate reading list.

Students MUST ENROLL in ENG 697 to be eligible. However, enrolling in ENG 697 requires department authorization. One to two weeks prior to registration, email Connie Cuellar and let her know your intention to take the exam and your Bronco ID. Failure to do this means you will be unable to register for ENG 697, and thus unable to fulfill your culminating experience, or graduate.

Back to top

4. Literature Culminating Experience: M.A. Thesis

Students may also choose to write an M.A. Thesis, a directed, in-depth research project. For more information, see the guidelines (PDF). Then speak with an advisor before filling out the petition (DOC).

Back to top