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Indiana University Bloomington

American Literature at Indiana

The English department at Indiana University has a history of distinction in the field of American Literature, and many past graduates are now teaching in diverse settings across the country as well as contributing major works of scholarship. With a long tradition of encouraging interdisciplinary work, we maintain strong connections with the American Studies Program and the Victorian Studies program as well as the department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Jewish Studies program, the Cultural Studies program, and the Department of Communication and Culture. American Literary Scholarship, the annual review of publications in the field, has been housed at IU for many years. A conference, New Directions in African American Literature, Theory, and Cultural Studies, is hosted by the department every year or two in the spring, and the American Studies program hosts many lectures and small conferences or workshops.

Professors and graduate students work in a rich variety of fields. Both national and transnational frames of analysis are encouraged. Faculty members represent and encourage diverse theoretical orientations deriving from feminist and gender theory, queer theory, psychoanalysis, Marxist critical theory, critical race theory, materialist phenomenology, and textual and editorial theory. We are strongest in the literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For a list of recent graduate courses offered, click here.

Various funding opportunities and awards are available to prospective or current graduate students focusing in American literature:

  • The Booth Tarkington Fellowship ($15,000), for an entering graduate student in American literature. Preference is for those interested in African American literature, race studies, and/or ethnic studies.
  • The Booth Tarkington Dissertation Fellowship ($8,000), for students working on their dissertations, to release them from teaching duties. One is awarded each semester.
  • The J. Albert Robbins Award, for an outstanding graduate student in American Literature.
  • The Dickason Prize, for an outstanding essay on any topic in American Literature.

Researchers have easy access to the rich resources of the Lilly Rare Book and Manuscript Library – home of the principal archives of Sylvia Plath, Galway Kinnell, Max Eastman, Clifford Odets, and Orson Welles, among others, and significant collections of rare editions of the work of Whitman, Poe, Stowe, Melville, and others. It also has important collections of manuscripts and other materials related to the Beats, Amiri Baraka, and nineteenth-century American drama; and one of the best collections of popular and pulp fiction, sheet music, and film scores.

Resources available to Americanists at Indiana: