Graduate Plans: Summaries

There are four active graduate plans (or concentrations) being offered by the English Department:

  • Literature and Cultural Theory
  • Rhetoric, Professional Writing, and Community Engagement
  • Creative Writing
  • Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies

The concentrations delineate a student’s broad field of study and contain many areas of interest within them. Although students apply to and are admitted by one of the five plans, students are encouraged to take classes in a variety of areas, and there is considerable flexibility and interaction across plans.

Literature and Cultural Theory (Plan A)

Literature and Cultural Theory, Plan A, in the Department of English at UWM is a field of study that offers a flexible, interdisciplinary and professionally-oriented structure for MA and PhD students.

Our faculty members are committed to teaching the full range of theoretical, interdisciplinary and cultural theories, including but not limited to literary theory, postcolonial and globalization theory, feminism, queer theory, Marxism and Cultural studies, race theory, and political theory. Our areas of historical specificity and literary inquiry currently range from the early modern through the 18th century and the Victorian period to modernism and the contemporary.

Our program is designed to be intellectually stimulating and reflective of current debates in English, while it offers a dedicated training in professionalization. Our course offerings are comprehensive and designed to hone students’ expertise within recognized disciplinary fields in English.

Rhetoric, Professional Writing, and Community Engagement (Plan B)

The graduate concentration in Plan B includes a PhD in Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement and an MA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. These are interdisciplinary programs that provide students with a broad background in rhetoric and writing studies while offering students opportunities to apply that knowledge in pedagogical, professional, and/or community spaces. According to their individual interests and goals, students can develop in-depth knowledge of community engagement, composition pedagogy, contemporary rhetorical theory, cultural rhetorics, digital rhetorics, multimodal composition, professional writing, rhetorics of science and medicine, technical communication, or writing program administration. We continuously encourage students to critique existing theories and practices, and to develop new disciplinary approaches of their own. Most importantly, the rhetoric concentrations aim to develop a community of researchers, teachers, writers, and administrators who support each other’s work, share ideas, and participate in shaping our program goals.

Creative Writing (Plan C)

The Creative Writing concentration offers qualified students the opportunity to work intensively in either fiction or poetry under the supervision of an experienced and widely published faculty. At the master’s level, the student combines graduate workshops in fiction or poetry with courses in literature, some of which stress the craft and theory of the genre in which the student has chosen to work. At the doctoral level, students continue the development of their creative writing in workshops and tutorials, while also establishing a secondary field of study in literature and criticism. The dissertation itself may be a novel, a collection of stories or poems, or a substantial work of creative non-fiction.

The concentration in Creative Writing features guest writers whenever possible and sponsors a literary magazine, cream city review. With its combination of curricular and extra-curricular activities, Plan C strives to create an atmosphere of commitment to the creative task, a genuine community of working writers and poets within the framework of a metropolitan university.

Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies (Plan H)

This concentration offers a flexible and individuated course of study for students interested in film studies, media, digital studies or popular culture. Students are encouraged to combine theory, history, analysis or digital textualities with explorations of new and developing global cultural practices, shifts in industry structures and technology, and developments in narrative and formal conventions.

Students in MCDS can build their own graduate curriculum at the MA and PhD levels, drawing from courses in film studies, television, media theory, cultural studies, critical theory, multi-media writing, art history, alternative textual production, digital studies, gaming, technology theory, history and more.

Former Graduate Plans

Linguistics (Plan D)

A graduate plan in Linguistics (Plan D) was housed in the English Department until 2009 when it was moved to the Department of Linguistics.

Modern Studies (Plan E)

An internationally recognized graduate plan in Modern Studies existed until 2011.  An interdisciplinary program focused on culture, media, and theory, Modern Studies (Plan E) was bifurcated into two plans: a new program in Media, Cinema, and Digital studies (Plan H) was started, and what had previously been called Literary Studies was transformed into the current program in Literature and Cultural Theory (Plan A).

Professional Writing (Plan G)

The graduate concentration in Professional Writing was recently integrated into Plan B. Plan G was an interdisciplinary program that prepares students to engage in professional writing scholarship and research, teach business, technical, and professional writing, or work as technical communicators. According to their individual interests and career goals, students develop in-depth knowledge of professional writing history, theory, research, pedagogy, and practice, while also specializing in one or more related disciplines such as rhetoric, linguistics, creative writing, information resources, computer science, psychology, organizational communication, and graphic arts.

Our approach is to ground theory in practice. Students learn to analyze complex professional writing situations and contexts based on a variety of theoretical perspectives, and gain practice in basing document-related decisions on multiple theoretical approaches. We also continuously encourage students to critique existing theories and practices, and to develop new disciplinary approaches of their own.