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Texts, Technologies, and Literature

Beginning this fall, the English department will offer a new masters of arts in texts, technologies, and literature. The program is currently recruiting its first class of graduate students.

The M.A. in texts, technologies, and literature will give students the chance to further their understanding of literature and a broad array of other texts, including digital, academic and those that function in everyday use, in relation to both historical and contemporary culture.

When creating the new master’s, the English department decided that they wanted to develop a program that was different than anything else offered in the region. They also wanted to pull together the strengths in its two existing undergraduate tracks, literature and communications and technology. Finally, faculty wanted to look ahead to the future of the field and the future of the English department at UMBC.

“The discipline is changing, and it feels right in that way. We’re going with the way the discipline is moving,” said Orianne Smith, chair of English. She and Lucille McCarthy, the graduate program director, also feel that the balance between the two specialties of UMBC’s English department will make for a unique experience for students and faculty.

“It’s not just for literature folks, and it’s not just for technology folks. Everyone can get something out of it, and I’m really open to seeing how that evolves,” said Smith. She said that English faculty members are especially excited to teach master’s classes, since it will allow them to combine their teaching and research more deeply than they are able to do while teaching only undergraduate courses.

The department is currently recruiting students to begin graduate classes this fall. Smith and McCarthy expect that many members of this first class of students will be UMBC alumni. Smith said that in exit interviews with graduating students, the desire for a way to continue their studies at UMBC was often a topic of conversation. “There was pressure from below as well as endorsement from above,” she said.

She and McCarthy imagine students will come into the program with a variety of goals: some may be interested in pursuing a Ph.D. (students in this program can take classes in certain other UMBC departments, including the Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. program); others might be teachers pursuing advanced training; and still more could be professionals entering or hoping to further their career in the communications, editorial, and digital media professions.

“We just don’t know what people will do with it. I think we’re going to learn together,” McCarthy said.

Another option for current students is the accelerated B.A./M.A., which allows undergraduates to take classes towards the master’s degree. MCCarthy said that she has a number of talented undergraduates in her classes pursuing projects that would be appropriate for graduate study.

Applications for the fall are due on May 1. Information, application requirements, a list of courses, and more can be found on the program’s website.

(4/1/13)