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Department of English

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Multicultural and Transnational
Literatures (MTL) Concentration
(Graduate Catalog)

MTL Blog

The Master’s Degree in English with a Concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures is an advanced degree focusing on U.S. ethnic and world literatures from local, regional, national, transnational, and global perspectives. In our program, the approach to understanding and appreciating literatures is interdisciplinary, involving the study of historical, political, artistic, geographic, and environmental contexts, as well as literary aesthetics and interpretation. Methodologies are drawn from literary studies, cultural studies, colonial/postcolonial/diasporic studies, and discourse analysis, among others.

The Master’s Degree in English with a Concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures provides excellent preparation for the pursuit of the doctoral degree and a wide range of professions, including secondary and higher education, law, public policy, international service, business, or any profession that would benefit from an understanding of multicultural and global peoples, arts, traditions, histories, interactions, and issues as represented and interpreted through literature and criticism.

The Master’s degree is available as both a campus program (requiring attendance in face-to-face classes on the ECU campus and offering the possibility of research and teaching assistantships), and as a Distance Education (DE) degree offered fully online. (Priority for registration in DE classes is given to students who are officially admitted as DE students.)

On admission to the program, you will be advised initially by Dr. Richard Taylor ( another assigned advisor; as your research interests begin to focus, you will choose or be assigned an advisor in your area of interest.

Course Work and Other Requirements

A research methods course, selected from

ENGL 7005: Bibliography and Methods (This course lays the foundation for every other course you will take, so you should take it as early in your course of study as possible. ENGL 7005 should be available in on-campus and DE formats at least once a year.)
ENGL 6009: Research Methods in Language Study
ENGL 6805: Research: The Writer's Perspective
ENGL 7601: Research Design in Rhetoric and Compositionor
ENGL 7701: Research Methods in Technical and Professional Writing

Select 18 sh from the following courses

ENGL 6330: Studies in Latino/a Literature

ENGL 6340: Ethnic American Literature

ENGL 6345: Jewish Literature

ENGL 6350: Studies in Native American Literature

ENGL 6360: World Literatures Written in English

ENGL 6370: Caribbean Literature

ENGL 6375: Middle Eastern Literature

ENGL 6380: Studies in African Literature

ENGL 6420: Studies in Asian American Literature

ENGL 6450: Studies in World Indigenous Literatures

ENGL 6460: Studies in African American Literature

ENGL 7070: Literary Theory

ENGL 7080: Cultural Studies Theory and Method

ENGL 7300: Directed Reading in Multicultural and Transnational Literature

ENGL 7350: Seminar in Multicultural and Transnational Literature

ENGL 7365: Selected Topics in Multicultural and Transnational Literature

ENGL 7465: Folklore

The Concentration has two threads: Multicultural (usually understood to refer to U.S. ethnic literatures); and Transnational (world literatures from regional, national, international, diasporic, colonial/postcolonial, and global perspectives). ENGL 6340 and ENGL 6360 provide cross-cultural comparative introductions to these two threads, and it is recommended that you take these two courses early in your studies. The ENGL 7350 Seminar in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures pulls the two threads together, again in cross-cultural comparative contexts, and is recommended as a capstone to your course of study.

Electives 6 sh.
(English courses outside the concentration or in another department)

If you are a campus student with a Teaching Assistantship, you must take ENGL 6625 Teaching Composition: Theory and Practice for 3 sh of your 6 sh of non-concentration electives. It is strongly recommended that you take either ENGL 7070 Literary Theory or ENGL 7080 Cultural Studies Theory and Method. The study of theory provides conceptual foundations for the way readers approach texts and for the connection between texts and cultures; and it provides a philosophical basis for the way we approach and conceive of our work as scholars.

Other English courses that mesh especially well with the concentration include:
ENGL 6215: American Literature to 1830
ENGL 6515: Advanced Studies in Children’s Literature (when offered with special emphasis on race and ethnicity in children’s literature)
ENGL 7630: Cultural Rhetoric and Writing

Electives may also include any course in the English program of particular interest or usefulness to you, or courses in other departments such as History, Psychology, Education, Political Science, Foreign Language and Literatures (except FORL 6000, though it may be used to meet the requirement for reading knowledge of a language other than English) that are especially suited to your research or professional interests, as approved by your MTL advisor and the Graduate Director.

Thesis or Comprehensive Assessment Requirement 6 s.h.
There are two ways to meet the comprehensive assessment requirement:

A. The Thesis requires 6 s.h. of thesis (ENGL 7000), and is recommended for most students. The MTL faculty believe the thesis is an appropriate capstone experience for the MA, a demonstration of sustained focus on research and writing that familiarizes the student with a larger field of scholarship, providing an indispensable grounding for those who plan to continue their studies in a PhD program. Students are encouraged to begin thinking early about possible topics for their MA Thesis. Each course assignment can be used to explore and discover topics that can be developed into larger, Thesis-length projects. The Thesis option requires a Prospectus Meeting with the Thesis Committee to be conducted within the first three weeks of the semester in which the student plans to complete the Thesis, and an Oral Defense. The Prospectus Meeting and Defense may be conducted by conference call for DE Students. A full description of thesis requirements is provided by the Department of English graduate studies office or e-mail

B. The Comprehensive Assessment Project option require an additional 6 s.h. of coursework (to replace thesis hours). These can be any appropriate courses in ENGL or another Department, as long as all other requirements for the MA have been met, and 3 of those hours may be a directed reading. (Note: No more than 6 s.h. total taken outside the English Department can count towards the MA.)

1. The Portfolio option involves:

A Planning Meeting with a committee of three faculty from the Dept. of English chosen according to procedures outlined for the Thesis Committee. This meeting will be held no later than the third week of classes during the semester in which the student plans to take the Exam. The Planning Meeting may be conducted by conference call for DE students.

A Portfolio, which includes six to eight representative seminar papers and/or projects, to be presented at the Planning Meeting, and a Reading List of 20 texts, to be agreed on at the Planning Meeting. Ten of these texts will be chosen by the committee and ten by the student with the committee’s approval, in an area of specialization of the student’s choice. Approximately two-thirds of the texts will be book-length, and one-third may be article length.

A Revised Portfolio, which includes the portfolio papers, edited in accordance with the recommendations of the committee at the Planning Meeting, and a six to eight page Literacy Narrative or Cover Statement that provides a coherent synthesis of the Portfolio papers and contextualizes them within the larger scholarly field represented by the Reading Lists. The Revised Portfolio and the Literacy Narrative will be submitted to the committee no less than two weeks before the Oral Exam is scheduled.

An Oral Defense meeting of between one and one and one-half hours, during which the student demonstrates mastery of the theoretical and primary texts on the Reading List by discussing with the committee the Portfolio in relationship to the texts on the Reading List. The Defense may be conducted by conference call or videoconference for DE students.

2. The Professional Project option might be chosen by students with professional needs or interests, such as the design of a curriculum, a teaching unit, or other workplace project. The Project requires an additional 6 s.h. hours of coursework and:

A Planning Meeting, with a committee of three English faculty chosen according to procedures outlined for the Thesis Committee, to be held no later than the third week of classes during the semester in which the student plans to complete the Project. The Planning Meeting may be conducted by e-mail and/or conference call for DE students.

A Project Outline (2 to 3 pp.) and a Working Bibliography of 20 sources, to be submitted to the committee at the Prospectus Meeting.

A Framing Essay (5-6 pp.) relating the project to the Bibliography and explaining the theoretical framework of the project and the Project itself (20-25 pp.) to be submitted to the committee no less than two weeks before the Defense is scheduled.

An Oral Defense (1-1 ½ hrs.), at which the student presents the Project and its theoretical framework to the committee and answers questions posed by the committee related to the problem the project addresses, the methodology used, the utility of the project/application in curriculum or other work environments, and the relationship of the project to the student’s graduate coursework. The Defense may be conducted by conference call or videoconference for DE students. Distance Education students are invited (but not required) to come to campus for the Prospectus/Planning Meeting and/or Defense of the Thesis or CAP (or at any stage of their program) for a more personal exchange with faculty.

Reading knowledge of a language other than English

Students seeking to demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language will be assessed in one of the following ways:

A. Passing an advanced course in a foreign language (ECU equivalent of 2000-level or above) within five years prior to admission to the graduate school.

B. Passing a 2000-level course at ECU approved by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in a language approved by the DGS.

C. Passing a graduate-level reading knowledge course offered by the ECU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures (currently FORL 6000). FORL 6000 is offered regularly as a DE course (usually in the Spring), and is the simplest way for DE students to meet this requirement.

D. Passing a translation project supervised by a member of the ECU faculty who has been approved by the DGS. The project will be a translation of scholarly prose chosen by the student in consultation with the faculty member. The translation should be 2500 words (approximately ten double-spaced pages). The supervising faculty member will notify the DGS in writing of the successful completion of the project.