Graduate study can often involve sustained periods of solitary reading and work in isolation; but it should also be an intensely conversational and social endeavor. Responding to the newest work of scholars in the field, developing discussions and collaborations with one’s peers, and sharing one’s own work publicly are essential parts of graduate education. A community of criticism enables a kind of intelligence that its members could not generate in isolation. Our graduate program seeks to provide training in all the arts of collegial life: creating a mutually supportive community of scholars, raising the bar of public discussion, enabling criticism and creative thought in the give-and-take of rigorous conversation.
For these reasons the English department runs a common lecture series together with five principal colloquia. All graduate students affiliate themselves with at least one, but students are encouraged to attend as many as possible, in addition to the department lectures. Four of the colloquia are field-specific, designed to encourage and display current research in these fields and to promote discussion of methodology. The fifth, Theory and Media Studies, ranges across all historical periods and national literatures.
Within each colloquium, graduate students elect a representative who, along with a faculty member, acts as one of the conveners of the group. The conveners collect input from all colloquium members and then plan each year’s events. The events themselves take many forms, including talks by invited scholars, circulated work in progress, and panel discussions. Graduate student representatives also sit on the department’s Lectures and Colloquia Committee, which in the late spring plans the departmental lecture series for the following year, after soliciting nominations of speakers from the colloquium members.
The Medieval and Renaissance Colloquium allows scholars working in earlier periods a chance to present their research. The colloquium encourages conversation within and across these traditionally distinct fields, and aims to draw on Yale’s interdisciplinary depth in these areas through involvement with the Medieval Studies Program and the Renaissance Studies Program.
Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Colloquium pursues research specific to the 18th-century, Romanticism, and Victorianism, as well as projects that cross historical boundaries. Half of our sessions involve work-in-progress by graduate students and faculty; we invite two or three outside speakers to present their new work; and we typically schedule a panel on a topic of current theoretical, methodological, or pedagogical importance.
The Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Colloquium provides a forum for new research on 20/21C literature in the Anglophone world and beyond.
The Americanist Colloquium serves the Americanists within the English department as well as the interdisciplinary conversations with the African-American Studies Department and the American Studies Program. The Colloquium takes a broad view of the national and transnational currents of American writing, from the colonial world of the early modern Atlantic to the present, and through several periods of media shift.
The Theory and Media Studies Colloquium aims to encourage all kinds of theoretical inquiry, including cultural studies, literary theory, gender and sexuality studies, philosophical and linguistic criticism, postcolonial theory, and critical race studies. It also serves as the forum for work on the place of textual analysis in the broader context of media studies. This includes the field commonly known as “history of the book”—the material and social dimensions of textual culture, from scroll to codex to screen, and the place of literary cultures and literacies within the great media shifts of earlier times as well as our own day.
In addition to these five principal colloquia, the English department also supports a number of affiliated groups:
The Contemporary Poetry Group, which consists of faculty, graduate students, and members of the wider Yale community, meets several times a semester to discuss the recent work of living poets. Participants take turns selecting a poet’s work for a short photocopied packet and meet on campus in the early evening to discuss the poems together.
The Graduate Poets’ Reading Series arranges public readings, about twice a semester, for graduate students in English and allied departments who write poetry. The format of the readings has a group of graduate-student poets as the “opening act” for a more experienced poet, invited to New Haven for the reading.
The British Studies Colloquium is an interdisciplinary group organized by and for graduate students. The Colloquium provides a comfortable environment for graduate students to present their work on any aspect of British culture. The group organizes events aimed at furthering interdisciplinary scholarship by bringing together students from the departments of History, History of Art, Renaissance Studies, English, and Comparative Literature.