Open Letter to Prospective Graduate Students

From Associate Professor and Graduate Chair Julia Schleck

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

We appreciate your interest in the graduate program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln! The Department of English offers a vibrant, diverse, and intellectually stimulating place to do your graduate work.

We currently have approximately 120 graduate students in our M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Literary and Cultural StudiesCreative Writing, and Composition and Rhetoric. We offer graduate coursework in all these areas. Students can obtain Area of Specialization Certificates in affiliated interdisciplinary programs or Graduate Certificates such as the Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. Students with a B.A. may apply for the M.A. or for direct admission into the Ph.D. Please note that students who apply with a B.A. for direct admission to the Ph.D. will compete with Ph.D. applicants who have an M.A.; we only enroll students with excellent academic records and stated commitments to Ph.D. work for direct admission to the Ph.D. program. Students with an M.A. or M.F.A. may apply for the Ph.D.. If you are considering applying to our M.A. or Ph.D. programs I recommend you download and browse through our M.A. Handbook and Ph.D. Handbook.

Through research, teaching, and outreach, our department enacts a commitment to imaginative reasoning, a value and a practice that allows us to make connections across boundaries, imagine new possibilities, and exchange ideas with others. We enact this through analyzing literature and moving images, producing creative works and rhetorical texts, and developing critically-informed digital environments. At the crux of this work is a commitment to teaching. Our department boasts a university-wide award for teaching excellence, and our faculty and graduate instructors are regular recipients of teaching awards. Beyond the classroom, graduate students gain experience connecting their work to larger publics by participating in the department’s many prestigious journals and projects, including the Prairie Schooner; the Walt Whitman ArchiveLivingstone Online; the Cather Project; and the Western American Literature Journal. Our students also publish Watershed, a blog of critical theory. They regularly read their creative work at the No Name Reading Series in downtown Lincoln, and at various other sites in the city.

Through the Nebraska Writing Project, students connect with teachers from K through college, and help enhance writing in classrooms and in the community. Writing Lincoln Initiative, founded and led by graduate students, provides another avenue for civic engagement. Through these rich opportunities, students become important members of the department, the profession, and their larger communities.

Graduate students are integrated into the life of the department, with opportunities to participate in departmental governance and attend department meetings. The English Graduate Student Association is active. Faculty and students participate in reading and discussion groups in Critical Theory, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Eco-Criticism, Composition Theory, Cather, Minority Literatures, Teaching Literature, and Creative Nonfiction. Graduate students read their creative work at the No-Name Reading Series, which many students and faculty attend regularly. We also bring in a diverse series of visiting writers. Recent visitors have included: Reyna Grande, Jericho Brown, David Ebershoff, Chantel Acevedo, Susan Fromberg Schaffer, Eleanor Wilner, Richard Russo, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Stuart Dybek, Baron Wormser, Robin Becker, Chrystos, Toi Derricotte, Leslie Feinberg, Ann Finger, and Charles Fort. Joyce Carol Oates was the keynote speaker in the fall of 2001 at the Prairie Schooner 75th Anniversary Conference. Additionally, we hold an annual Robert Knoll Lecture in Literary Studies and organize Humanities on the Edge, a cross-disciplinary lecture series focusing on broadly theoretical questions. In recent years the Robert Knoll Lecture has been given by Stacy Alaimo, Donald E. Pease, and Frederick Luis Aldama; among recent Humanities on the Edge lecturers were Milton S.F. Curry, Sue J. Kim, Alexandre Da Costa, Kirsten Pai Buick, Saya Woolfalk, and Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Our financial aid packages are attractive. Reading Assistantships provide tuition and a stipend for six M.A. students each year. These assistantships give students the opportunity to work with faculty on their research, plan conferences, work on special projects, or work for Prairie Schooner. Ph.D. students are eligible for Teaching Assistantships which provide tuition and a stipend. In addition, many of our graduate students have obtained assistantships in other campus offices, including Women’s and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, the Great Plains Quarterly, and the College of Arts and Sciences Advising Office.

We are very proud of our students’ achievements. Many have obtained tenure track jobs in colleges and universities, while others have found excellent jobs in publishing or other areas, such as with the MLA. A number of our recent graduates have already published books, both academic and creative. We take job preparation very seriously; our Placement Advisors work closely with students, and all our faculty assist students with their job searches.

We invite you to browse our website and get to know our program better. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Julia Schleck

Sincerely,

Julia Schleck
Associate Professor and Graduate Chair
jschleck2@unl.edu