About the Program
The MA program in English offers you the opportunity to work closely with publishing scholars in the field of your choice. Small classes with vibrant, engaged faculty challenge and inspire you to pursue your interests and prepare for a career or further study. Our two-year program offers concentrations in literary studies, literary studies with creative writing emphasis, professional writing, and rhetoric and composition. Graduate assistantships offer funding and valuable teaching experience. Internships, independent studies, and lots of one-on-one mentoring ensure that every student emerges ready for a profession or further study. Workshops provide practical advice on prospectus- and thesis-writing, submitting to conferences, applying to PhD programs, job hunting, and teaching at the two-year college.
Watch our graduate faculty discuss their research on the English Department's YouTube channel.
Dr. Angela Vietto talks about her research.
Students concentrating in literary studies choose coursework from a wide range of periods and genres. Courses within a given time period may be taken more than once; they focus on a different topic each time they are offered. Faculty bring their research into the classroom, involving students in cutting-edge conversations about literary texts, and theoretical concerns.
The literary studies checklist spells out requirements. Electives allow students to take classes in other concentrations as well. The Graduate Program offers interdisciplinary literary study through affiliated programs in British Studies, Film Studies, and Women’s Studies. Our relationship with the famous Newberry Library in Chicago allows students to participate in workshops and attend lectures there. Graduate students also have access to the University of Illinois library’s massive collection.
The Close Reading Cooperative
Our graduate faculty talk about some of the skills involved in reading literature in The Close Reading Cooperative video series.
Literary Studies with a Creative Writing Emphasis
Students concentrating in literary studies with creative writing emphasis choose coursework from various genres: workshops are offered in writing creative nonfiction, fiction, drama, and poetry. All creative writing classes follow a workshop format and may be taken more than once.
The creative writing checklist spells out requirements, which include both literature and creative writing classes, as well as a one-hour course in creative writing as a profession, covering such topics as publishing and presenting in public venues. Creative writing faculty, who publish and present widely, introduce their students to contemporary writers, texts, and publishing venues through classes and readings. In their final semester, students write a thesis in their chosen genre.
Creative writing students have the opportunity to work with faculty who are actively engaged in writing and publishing their own work as well as editing that of others. Two literary journals are housed at Eastern: Vehicle and Bluestem. Three journals are edited or co-edited by Eastern faculty: Codex Journal, The Cossack Review and COBALT. The Winnie Davis Neely and James Johnson Creative Writing awards recognize outstanding student work. Students have the opportunity to present their work both on and off campus, and to hear the many outside speakers. The Emerging Artists series, for example, brings young writers to campus to read their work; the Alan Neff reading features a well-known poet. Recent Neff readers have included Ann Waldman, Rosemarie and Keith Waldrop, Jerome Rothenberg, Kwami Dass, Bruce Guernsey, and John Kinsella.
Dr. Daiva Markelis reads from her memoir White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life at the Cicero Public Library during its 90th anniversary celebration.
Dr. Charlotte Pence published her debut poetry collection, Many Small Fires, in 2015. She is also the author of two chapbooks, The Branches, the Axe, the Missing and Weaves a Clear Night, and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics.
Students concentrating in professional writing take courses that prepare them for careers in such fields as grant writing, public relations, technical writing, and publishing. Required classes include Professional Editing and the professional writing internship. The newly developed ENG/COMM 5260, Communication in Science and Technical Communications, allows writing students to work with graduate students enrolled in our new MS in Sustainable Energy, dealing with writing and communication issues in the real-world context of EIU's new Renewable Energy Center. Co-taught by faculty in English and Communication Studies, the course addresses such issues as corporate ethics, crisis management, and environmental activism. In addition, special topics and independent studies offer professional writing students the opportunity for in-depth exploration of a specific issue or skill.
The professional writing checklist spells out requirements, which leave ample room for electives. These electives might include literature or creative writing classes, or a graduate-level class offered by another department.
Professional writing classes meet in computer labs, where students learn to use a wide range of software programs. Recent interns have worked at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital, Lake Land College, Carle Hospital, Catholic Charities, and Soup Stop. Professional writing faculty share their experience in a wide range of venues and media. In their final semester, students may write a thesis on a relevant issue, take an exam, or work with an actual client to produce the kind of project they might pursue in their professional life. Recent projects have included brochures and training manuals for non-profit institutions.
Dr. Terri Fredrick talks about her research.
The composition/rhetoric checklist spells out requirements, which include a course in composition pedagogy as well as a special topics course, which deals with a different topic each time it is offered. Recent courses have focused on developmental writing, creative writing pedagogy, genre theory, and the evaluation of writing.
Many K-12 teachers select this concentration, bringing their hands-on perspective to the classroom. Students learn about successful classroom practices from each other as well as from faculty with a wide range of teaching experiences. Students concentrating in Rhetoric/Composition may take a class in mentored composition teaching—which places them in a writing classroom, working with the instructor to plan and teach the class—and, if they are graduate assistants, may apply to teach a first-year writing class on their own during their second year in the program.
Full time teachers with a year of experience may earn an 18-hour Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. Interested teachers should start by applying to the Eastern Illinois Writing Project; completion of that summer program provides 6 hours of graduate credit toward the certificate and/or toward the MA in English.
Recent graduates in comp/rhet have gone on to PhD programs at Illinois State University and the University of Washington as well as to teaching positions at a range of two-year colleges, including Rock Valley College, Parkland College, and Lake Land College.
Watch a video slideshow of the 2014 Eastern Illinois Writing Project Summer Institute.
Questions? Contact the coordinator of the MA program in English.