Entering doctoral program in literature at Columbia
This spring, the AU Literature Department held a Walt Whitman marathon reading. For three snack-filled, caffeine-fueled, thrilling hours, fifty-two successive members of the department– undergraduates, graduate students, and professors–read aloud all fifty-two sections of Whitman’s “Song of Myself” among an audience of their colleagues and friends. For me, this event exemplified what has been most rewarding about my two years in the MA program: the experience of being an integral part of a vibrant intellectual community. The collaboration and communality of the Whitman reading mirrored the various other aspects this program that I have found so valuable: bonding with fellow graduate students by sharing work and exchanging ideas in seminars and study sessions; taking an active part in the mission of the department as a student participant in hiring and administrative committees, a consultant in the Writing Center and a teaching assistant in undergraduate classes; and working closely with the department’s brilliant, generous, challenging, and inspiring faculty. The goading and guidance of professors like Michael Wenthe, Richard Sha, Madhavi Menon, David Pike, and many others enabled me to define and pursue my own intellectual trajectory, one enriched by the huge range of interests and perspectives represented in the department. The MA program combines a rigorous grounding in the fundamentals of the literary field with the scope and opportunity to follow one’s interests in any direction from Old English poetry to twenty-first century television – while providing a model for how scholars from across this whole range can support and collaborate with one another. AU’s MA in Literature admirably provides the pedagogical and academic skills and habits of mind necessary to enter the broader community of literary scholars and professionals.
Graduated in 2008 and will start a PhD program at Wisconsin-Madison in Comparative Literature
I finished my undergraduate degree knowing that I wanted to continue studying literature without knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to study. Completing my MA at American was an excellent way to fill in gaps in my knowledge of literary periods and theoretical discussions while I narrowed and defined my interests. AU offers a wide range of courses, some covering a genre or a theme across a broad spectrum of time periods and literatures with others dealing with very specific moments in literary history. The theory courses I took were some of the most difficult, and most rewarding, classes I've ever taken. As a result of my time at AU, I feel more prepared to enter a PhD program and I would go so far as to say that I have an advantage, as far as theory is concerned, over other students coming directly from undergraduate programs. Finally, the professors at AU are extremely accessible and I really appreciated the fact that they were always willing to help me with whatever it was I was working on—whether it was for their class or someone else's. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at AU.
Jessica Roberts Frazier:
Entering doctoral program at GWU in fall 2008
One evening during a break in our novel genre class, Professor David Pike slid a folded newsletter over to me. An erratic scrawl of ink encircled a small paragraph in the upper right-hand corner of the page: The Novel and La Mode: Fashioning Novelty, a semester-long seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library. “You should do this,” Dr. Pike said. If I had harbored any uncertainties about my selection of graduate programs, that paper and those words scattered them into the obscurity of bootless worries. Over the summer that followed, I began the application process to gain admission into the seminar. From the mountains of Bogota, Columbia, Professor Pike read and re-read and re-read my statement of purpose and crafted a letter of recommendation, which he somehow managed to deliver to the Folger Institute on time. Despite a previous year spent on sabbatical and only one prior meeting with me, Professor Roberta Rubenstein, then graduate director, negotiated the necessary forms and university requisites. Thus, in September, I found myself in the space of a library that reminds you of why you wanted a life of books in the first place. Amidst the hush of the Folger Library and the impassioned discussions of a seminar group comprised largely of professors and PhD candidates, the life of an academic became a tangible thing—a promise of the future.
This story remains one of the many that I could have shared with you. I could have told you about Professor Keith Leonard who enabled a master’s student to sit on a Langston Hughes panel at the American Literature Association Conference last May—an opportunity that renders further graduate studies all the more possible. I could have told you about how Dr. Leonard, perpetually overcommitted, agreed to direct a master’s student’s scholarly essay, opening a pathway to publication. I could have told you of the paradigm shift in thinking that Professor Katharine Gillespie’s course on the biblical epics of John Milton and Lucy Hutchinson engendered or of the delightful confusion that Dr. Jonathan Loesberg stirred in asking about the definition of art and beauty. I could have told you that Professor Madhavi Menon will challenge your system of beliefs in ways that will provoke a richer personal philosophy. I could have told you of these memories and so many others. But I need not. For, if you choose American’s MA program in literature, you will have such moments of your own.
Academic Advisor, Academic Advising Center, University of Texas at San Antonio
Secondary-school teacher of English, Bishop Dunne Catholic School, Dallas, TX, where she serves as journalism adviser and girl's soccer coach; she is also a free-lance copy-editor for a small publishing house in Austin
Doctoral candidate in African-American literature, Howard University, Washington, DC
Doctoral candidate in Medieval literature, Catholic University, Washington, DC
Secondary school teacher of English, Japan
Secondary school teacher of English, The Wakefield School, The Plains, Virginia
Lisa Vanian Wolff:
Development Researcher, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Adjunct writing instructor, Department of Literature, American University
Degree candidate (2007) for MS in Library and Information Science, Catholic University, Washington, DC; adjunct librarian at American University library
Doctoral candidate in English, Catholic University, Washington, D.C., and adjunct writing instructor, department of literature, American University
Adjunct instructor of English at Penn State University, Delaware campus.
“The [excellent] variety of class topics offered each semester insures that you will be studying only what you are interested in.”
Degree candidate (2007) for MS in Library and Information Science, Catholic University, Washington, DC, specializing in academic libraries. She was selected as a fellow in the Association of Research Libraries' Academy, a program dedicated to recruiting advanced degree holders into academic librarianship. She recently completed a semester-long internship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where she assisted with research and with writing a grant proposal for creating a digital archive of over 10,000 unique Shakespeare-related images.
Doctoral candidate in post-colonial American and African literatures with full fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.
"Earning my MA in Literature at American University was an immensely enriching and fruitful first step into graduate school—from bonding with my cohort in Professor Sha's graduate poetry survey at the beginning, to enjoying the challenges and the more independent process of writing my Master's thesis under Professor Larson's direction, to eventually designing and teaching my own courses in African literature. Because the Department of Literature is neither an English department nor exactly a comparative literature department, it offers its graduates the best of both worlds: a rigorous grounding in canonical Western literature along with the freedom to explore and discover what lies outside of it."
Teaching English as a foreign language in Prague and contemplating pursuing doctoral study when he returns to the United States.
“I have only good things to say about the AU literature department. Though the graduate program is small, the faculty are excellent and very dedicated to their work. . . . I really enjoyed the MA program at AU and I thought the faculty were its strongest asset.”
Doctoral candidate in English with full teaching assistantship, LSU (Louisiana State University)
“As a doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University, I can say that the MA in literature from American University has given me real advantages in my current program of study. My department found my previous coursework at AU both applicable and highly relevant to the direction I want to take in my doctoral work. This didn't just happen by itself. The advising and mentoring I received at AU— particularly from Professors Sha, Rubenstein, Larson, and Turaj—were phenomenal.
While in the MA Program, I had the opportunity to teach in the College Writing Program under John Hyman, create a secondary bibliography for Roberta Rubenstein's research, work in the Writing Center, and develop my own writing and ideas with the support of some of the most dedicated scholars in their respective fields. One of the best parts of the program is that your professors don't forget about you when you leave. I still keep in touch with many of my professors, some of whom have even offered to read my ‘works in progress’ before final submission. If this doesn't scream ‘dedication to students,’ I don't know what does.”
Full-time teacher of English, Georgetown Day High School, Washington, D.C. (beginning Fall 2002)
Adjunct instructor, College Writing Program, American University (beginning Fall 2002)
Department of Literature, assistant to chair, American University
Part-time doctoral candidate in Academic Administration (Education), American University
"I have found myself in a perhaps unique position to sing the praises of the MA program in literature. . . . The program was an amazing experience for me."
Theater and writing:
Acts Unbecoming a Golem (new play, produced in July at River Stage in Sacramento)
Direct from Death Row the Scottsboro Boys opens September 27 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles
Ghost Dance, accepted for publication by Playscripts Ltd., which publishes acting editions
Mating Dance of the Werewolf will premiere in a co-production, first at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg and then at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura, CA
Author, episode for a television series, Nero Wolfe, which aired on A&E
Adjunct Professor, Drama Department, Catholic University (2001-02)
Adjunct Professor, Department of Literature, American University (2004)
"In teaching the Intro. to Drama class at Catholic University, a lot—a whole lot—of what I learned in getting my MA informed my approach. Issues of gender and drama, for instance, which I learned from Professor Rubenstein's seminar on feminist theory, surfaced in our discussions of Lysistrata, Miss Julie, and M Butterfly. Issues of race and drama, insights into which I gained from Professor Leonard, surfaced in our discussions of M Butterfly, Long Day's Journey into Night (based on an African-American production), and a recent play, Fires in the Mirror. This last play also sparked connections between modern drama and romanticism—Professor Bennett having introduced me to the analogously titled The Mirror and the Lamp by M.H. Abrams, which connects romanticism to its classical roots, and Professor Pike having led me to a keener understanding of those classical roots in his course on Roman Literature."
Assistant Professor of English (tenure track), Prince George's Community College, Maryland
"Aubade" (Poem), forthcoming in Poetry Motel
"The Martyr" (short story), forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage
"The Darkness Away" (short story), forthcoming in an anthology of fiction focusing on blue-collar work
"I went to American University hoping to gain a solid foundation in 'what good literature is' so that I could become a good poet/fiction writer, not necessarily to become a scholar. There is no doubt that American University provided me with the thinking and literary skills to become a good writer if I pursue it. But while I was at AU, teachers like Professors Rubenstein, Larson, Leonard, Moyer, and Sha, to name only a few, inspired me to think about being a scholar. A year and a half away from the scholarship world, I miss it, but I think I miss the environment that American University provided me with even more."
Full-time high school English teacher, Academy of the Holy Cross, Kensington, MD (since Fall 2002)
Doctoral candidate in English literature, University of Pennsylvania
Consultant, National League of Cities
Author, Cities Promoting Racial Equality: Resources for Local Officials (booklet sponsored and published by the National League of Cities)
Full-time instructor in College Writing Program, Department of Literature, American University (since Fall 2003)
Proposal writer for Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), Washington D.C.
ACS is a provider of diversified business process and information technology, outsourcing solutions to commercial and government clients worldwide. She is a volunteer tutor for Project Northstar, an organization that provides educational support to homeless and formerly homeless children through one-on-one tutoring.
Doctoral candidate in English literature with teaching assistantship, University of Maryland
"I've realized more and more clearly over the past year how very much the process of writing the thesis helped me, both in terms of clarifying my ideas and interests and in terms of learning how to approach writing in more constructive ways. I find that I approach writing differently now and allow myself to explore ideas in drafting that previously I would probably have either avoided or else imposed more control over. It's allowed me to think through writing differently than I used to and, while it hasn't made the writing process easier or tidier, it has certainly made it more interesting."
Full-time Instructor in College Writing Program, Department of Literature, American University (since Fall 2001)
Managing Editor, Book Publishing Office, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Duties include substantive and copy editing, project management in a team environment, and some desktop publishing.
"When I received my MA in 1999, I had worked for Professor Deborah Payne
for a year as an editorial assistant. This experience, on top of some
previous editorial experience during my B.A program, helped me land a
mid-level editing job right away: as an assistant editor for the book
publishing office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In summer
2001, I was promoted to managing editor (one of three)."
Full-time Instructor in College Writing, Department of Literature, American University (since Fall 2000)
"Besides preparing me well to teach College Writing . . .the MA program enhanced my understanding and appreciation of literature. As someone who loves literature, I loved the opportunities to read, discuss, and write about literature. My professors challenged me, pushing me to expand my knowledge and understanding and treating me like a fellow scholar. So, beyond the 'practical' preparation of the teaching track, the MA program helped me to grow as a thinker, reader, and writer, too."
Research analyst, Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics, Duke Clinical Research Institute. "Our group works mainly in the areas of health services research (an interdisciplinary field comprised of clinicians, economists, epidemiologists, sociologists, and cultural anthropologists, among others) and health outcomes research (which assesses economic and quality-of-life outcomes in clinical studies)."
Co-author, "Special Article" in The New England Journal of Medicine (forthcoming), reporting findings from a study focusing on "whether clinical research conducted at academic medical centers (and sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry) adheres to new guidelines for protecting scientific and academic integrity."
"I think the AU program prepared the way for me to explore intellectual interests that I might not have had the opportunity to explore otherwise (or at least to appreciate in a meaningful way). My experience at AU, because it offered courses in both theory and interpretation, has given me the flexibility to make even thinking about [applying to an interdisciplinary doctoral program] possible."
Assistant professor of English and writing, Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama—a small liberal arts college with approximately 110 faculty and 1400 students (full-time beginning Fall 2000).
"I teach mostly writing, but also introductory literature courses. My experiences at AU certainly were key for those tasks. I don't think there can be any doubt about that. I wouldn't be doing this now if it weren't for the degree. In the spring I'll be teaching a freshman seminar course on science fiction, based largely on the work I started with Professor David Pike in the spring of 1999."
Evrim Dogon (Sevinc)
Doctoral candidate in English literature, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey
Awarded Ph.D. in English Literature, University of Tulsa, Spring, 2002
Full-time Lecturer in English, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX (beginning Fall 2002)
Founder and Editor, The University of Tulsa Graduate Review www.utulsa.edu/tugr. Tulsa: The University of Tulsa, 1999-2002
Around San Antonio, a pictorial history book (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999). Nominated for the San Antonio Conservation Society's Publication Award, 2001
"I heartily praise the graduate program in Literature at AU for many reasons, though I'll just list two here: 1) The Teaching of Writing program gave me the scholarly background and hands-on curriculum experience that I needed to become a professor. Without this invaluable two-semester course, I certainly would not be teaching as a lecturer at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. 2) The curriculum of courses at American University thoroughly grounded me in twentieth-century American literature, which turned out to be my primary field for my dissertation/doctoral work. Although I was not able to take as much of a variety of courses in twentieth-century American literature at the University of Tulsa that I would have liked, my academic background at American University certainly supported my ability to pursue this field. My only regret is that AU does not have a doctoral program; if it had had one, I certainly would have applied."
Full-time Instructor in College Writing Program, Department of Literature, American University (since Fall 1999)