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Graduate Students in English 




The Writing Center Associates Program

This program combines a Master's Degree in English and American Literature with an emphasis on the teaching of writing and composition. The program is designed for educators at all levels, but especially those planning careers in secondary or collegiate education. Selected Writing Center Associates team-teach writing workshop courses with professors in the English department.

More detailed information is available through the English Department.


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Research Aid   Literature | Rhetoric & Composition




  • Voice of the Shuttle: This is a well known and reliable site for research in humanities.  The homepage offers a list of subjects, many of which will be very useful for students in English & American literature. 

  1. Gender Studies

  2. Classical Studies

  3. Literature (in English)

  4. Literary Theory

  5. Cultural Studies

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Rhetoric and Composition


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Professional Organizations  Literature | Rhetoric & Composition





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Rhetoric & Composition


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Graduate Student Testimonials 


About Orals...


I started planning my orals in July before my second year, which I think is probably the latest you would want to start thinking about a topic.  It helps some if you have a general field idea in mind of what you plan to write about for your thesis, and use that to help guide the scope of your orals.  Once I decided on my thesis topic, planning for that research helped shape the scope of my orals topic.  The orals topic is a bigger, broader survey of the knowledge you might need to write your thesis, so for me it involved an in-depth study of the particular field of literary theory I hoped to use in writing my thesis: reader response criticism.

I also used my thesis topic to help me choose an advisor for the orals.  My thesis advisor became my orals committee chairperson, and she helped guide me toward some of the sources I needed to focus on for my orals.  Some of the sources were things I had already read--which will probably be true for almost everyone, because the topic you pick is probably something you are interested in and have studied in the past.  I didn't actually start reading until September, which meant I had about 3 months to complete the process.  If at all possible, I would recommend deciding on a topic and creating your list of sources (for your prospectus) over the summer--this is something you can do over e-mail if your advisor is willing to respond and give feedback that way.  By the time you return for the fall, you are well underway with a complete bibliography.  Start reading as early as you can--either over the summer or fall semester. 

I did my orals in December, which gave me enough time to read everything on my list, but not enough time to process and plan for the presentation part of the oral exam.  I would recommend giving yourself a few weeks from the time when you finish reading everything on your list until the time of your orals to reread, review your notes, and plan your presentation. --
Kristen Vibbert, ‘04, Thesis in Children’s Literature (Harry Potter)


Perhaps the best advice that I received from my thesis advisor was to divide the paper up into stages.  Since the thesis typically runs from about 40-80 pages, it seems easier and less daunting to view the project as writing three 20-page papers instead of one large thesis.  My advisor suggested that I start in the middle of the thesis, writing the three body chapters first and allowing the introduction and conclusion to develop from that work.  This strategy was helpful because it enabled me to rework parts of my introduction and framework sections based on where my middle chapters took my project. 

  My advisor and I laid out a timetable by which I’d have a draft of the majority of the thesis done by the end of Easter.  I finished my orals on February 11th, so I took a week off to collect my thoughts and to adapt my orals arguments into a workable thesis.  Then I gave myself a week to write each 20 page paper.  I would write the pages during the beginning of the week and then spend the weekend editing and revising.  Then I would repeat that process for the next two weeks.  This enabled me to have a 65 page draft ready to turn into my advisor after the Easter break. 

It can be difficult to initiate the writing process and to motivate yourself to continue writing until you have a completed draft.  I found it necessary to locate a working environment that would force me to work on my thesis.  I quickly eliminated my apartment as a writing space because the TV, DVDs and such would provide easy distractions that would allow me to put off writing the project.  I chose the grad lounge because, while the conversations and the internet connections might distract me, it would be easier for me to work through those aspects than my apartment distractions.  I allotted myself about 4-5 hours on Tuesdays and forced myself to stay in the grad lounge working on my thesis until the weekly page requirement was completed. 

  This process wasn’t especially entertaining or enjoyable, but it enabled me to complete my thesis relatively easily.  I had the majority of my draft completed mid-March and spent the next month revising those pages and writing my introductory and concluding chapters.  That strategy gave me sufficient time to get sufficient pages and to proofread and edit my paper until I was satisfied that it was completed.-- Christopher DeVault, ‘04


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