5 Key Courses in a Master’s in English Program

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Updated August 4, 2020

Master's in English Courses

  • The Age of Romanticism
  • Literature and Criticism
  • The Victorian Age of Literature
  • The Renaissance
  • The Modern American Novel

Individuals interested in a Master's in English program should learn the details about five key courses required to earn this degree. Though the names of these courses may differ from school to school, the material conveyed in them is about the same. A Master's degree in English can help to prepare someone for a job in education as a post secondary teacher or a high school teacher.

Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master's in English

The Age of Romanticism

This course deals with great literature written during the Romantic period. Graduate students take an in-depth look at influential authors who published work during this era. Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, John Keats and William Wordsworth are some of the most well-known writers included in this period. Students learn how historical events such as the French Revolution affected the work of these writers. For instance, Jane Austen expressed her feelings about the time by writing all about the affairs of the social classes. Alternatively, Lord Byron used his writing to convey his thoughts on personal liberty.

Literature and Criticism

In this key course, graduate students learn how to evaluate and analyze the great literature they read. They learn what components to look for in order to perform a critical analysis of the work. Graduate students must know how to read with attention to a writer's style and identify the meaning he or she is trying to convey through that style. Students will know how to recognize the writing styles of various classic authors from different periods in literature. All of these skills are requirements of someone who wants to earn a Master's in English degree.

The Victorian Age of Literature

In this course, graduate students take a close look at the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. This period in literature occurred when Queen Victoria was ruler of England and was a reaction to the Romantic period in literature. Some common themes found in Victorian literature include social injustice, treatment of the poor, corruption of the ruling classes and a feeling of pessimism about the future. Queen Victoria had a moral presence during this period and that was reflected in the work of many authors.

The Renaissance

Students in this graduate course study authors who belonged to what is known as the Renaissance period in literature. Some authors who worked during this period include Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Milton and Sir Thomas More. The Renaissance period was a reaction to the Dark Ages. Renaissance period writers explored and displayed their creativity bringing fresh stories and poems to the public. Dramatic stage plays were a favorite with many types of audiences. There was a sense of hope reflected in the writing. Different types of poetry including elegies, tragedies and lyrical poems were popular with readers.

The Modern American Novel

Students learn about the elements of novels written in the late 20th century up to today. They study influential American writers such as Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, John Irving and Tom Wolfe. Students learn about the unique tones and styles of different authors. Also, they look at how personal events influence an author's work. Students may read all of the books written by each author listed on the syllabus or read a sampling from each one to get an idea of the person's writing techniques. Instructors ensure that students have solid knowledge of each author.

These are just a sampling of all of the many graduate courses students must take. Being aware of these five key courses in a Master's in English program gives prospective graduate students an idea of what to expect.

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