“…a good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” - John Milton, Areopagitica
Welcome to the Buffalo State English Department! You will find in our Masters of Arts program a supportive community of students and faculty members who share a love of reading and writing, a commitment to critical inquiry, and a habit of intellectual curiosity. Our faculty are passionate about our own research and teaching and we are eager to communicate this excitement about literature to our students.
I preface this letter with a quotation from Milton’s essay in favor of the liberty of the press. Milton reminds us that reading, thinking, talking, and writing about books connects us to our past, enlivens our present, and propels us into the future. A good book strengthens and enriches those who read it, for the practice of literary study develops critical thinking, written and oral communication skills, creativity, logic, and (according to a 2013 study in the journal Science) empathy.
A graduate program is more than a means of obtaining professional credentials. Buffalo State’s Master of Arts in English focuses on studying literary texts—what they are, how they work, how their contexts are relevant, and how they can be understood, interpreted, and appreciated.
Whatever your plans for the future, the MA offers a rigorous yet flexible course of study that will enrich you as an educator, a researcher, a writer, and a reader. Our graduate faculty and our department staff in Ketchum Hall 208 are ready and eager to help you make the most of this opportunity.
Lisa Berglund, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair Ketchum Hall 213
Dear English M.A. Student:
Congratulations on your acceptance and welcome to our program! We are happy to have you join our department, which includes more than 15 full-time graduate faculty members and a vibrant community of students. Our program offers both a diverse array of subjects and the opportunity to pursue concentrated study in areas of particular interest. The English M.A. degree provides a solid foundation in advanced literary studies that will help you to prepare for the next step in your career or for further graduate education.
The English M.A. includes 30 credits, 18 of which fulfill requirements in doing research at the graduate level, British literature, American literature, world literature, and linguistics or genre study. We also require that you take a course in either literary criticism or the politics of literature. In addition, the 12 elective credits give you the chance to explore some of the many specialized areas of research that our graduate faculty have developed. Topics of recent courses have included Jane Austen, Introduction to Lexicography, Narratives of Symbolism and Decadence, Science Fiction and Fantasy, James Joyce, David Bowie, Black British Literature, Farce, Transatlantic Slave Narratives, William Faulkner, Magical Realism, Mark Twain, Booker Prize Winners, Victorian Travel Narratives, The American Long Poem, Toni Morrison, and Richardson’s Clarissa. In topics courses like these you will explore the unique parameters of the subject in concert with a small group of dedicated students—our classes are capped at 15—through intensive readings, discussions, and writing assignments. Throughout the semester, you will consider what your own intervention in the field might look like.
What distinguishes our program from those at peer institutions is our faculty’s enthusiasm for and commitment to graduate studies. You will receive one-on-one attention from the professors in your classes and from the Coordinator, who will serve as your advisor. Whatever direction you decide to take in your pursuits after the M.A., and whatever route you choose to get there, we are here to offer guidance and support. Should you find yourself interested in further developing a research project begun in one of your classes, you have the option of writing a thesis under the supervision of two faculty members. We offer regular workshops on various professional options open to someone holding a master’s degree in English and on applying to Ph.D. programs. We also regularly host speakers on campus who give talks specifically geared toward our graduate students on scholarship, professionalism, and pedagogy. Finally, our graduate students traditionally foster a strong, collegial community. They often socialize together, volunteer to serve on campus committees, and seek leadership roles in the Graduate Student Association. The connections they make in our classes last long after their degrees are completed.
We look forward to working with you in the coming semesters. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Jennifer D. Ryan-Bryant, Ph.D.
Professor and M.A. Coordinator
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