Program Overview:

Master of Arts in English Literature

Through advanced literary study, students grapple with the thought and creative vision of the world’s most remarkable minds: rediscover and master classic texts while exploring exciting, contemporary works, diverse genres, and cutting-edge ideas in narrative form and interpretation. This broad and stimulating intellectual challenge improves the ability to analyze complex information, challenge assumptions, weigh competing considerations and reach effective conclusions. Graduates of the MALit program are well prepared for application to PhD programs and for success in diverse professional areas from advertising to law. Secondary-school teachers develop a competitive edge by deepening their subject-area knowledge — a key distinction between the MALit program and more general graduate programs in education. The MALit program recently hosted a lecture on the "Adventuresses: Women in Public, Vice and Art from 1893 World's Fair to the Jazz Age." — Read more.


These events are free and open to the public.

Crowds, Riots and the Politics of Representation

Professor Dilip Gaonkar
Friday, February 3  |  6pm  |  John Evans Alumni Center (1800 Sheridan Road, Evanston)

History According to Trump, and the History of Trump

Professor Geraldo Cadava
Friday, March 10  |  6pm  |  John Evans Alumni Center (1800 Sheridan Road, Evanston)

Conversion Over Hot Chocolate: A Shipboard Interfaith Dialogue in the 18th Century

Professor Michelle Molina
Friday, April 14  |  6pm  |  Congdon Shaffer Mansion (405 Church Street, Evanston)

Literature Faculty Perspective

Bill Savage, PhD
MALit faculty member and distinguished senior lecturer in the Northwestern University English department. Savage teaches and conducts research in hermeneutics, 20th-century American fiction, popular culture, Chicago writers, and narratology. He co-edited the 50th Anniversary Critical Edition of Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm and Chicago: City on the Make: 50th Anniversary Edition, Newly Annotated, and has written several essays about Algren for both mainstream and scholarly publications.

Program Goals

  • Exposes students to Northwestern University’s distinguished and world class instructors.
  • Provides students with countless opportunities to engage with others who are passionate to rediscover and master classic texts while exploring exciting, contemporary works, diverse genres and cutting-edge ideas in narrative form and interpretation.
  • Engages students in advanced literary study, which improves critical assessment and problem solving skills which translate to work, personal and intellectual life.
  • Sharpens analytical and writing abilities, which can help prepare students for application to PhD programs.


Students who wish to lend more structure to their MALit experience can elect to complete a specialization in:

A specialization may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a PhD program, or anyone who wants to focus their literary study more precisely. Students complete four thematically linked courses for a specialization.

Curriculum Requirements

Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program. 

Students must complete 9 courses to complete their Master of Arts in Literature degree. Students must complete 1 core course (LIT 410 Introduction to Graduate Study), 7 elective courses and a capstone project. Students can take elective courses that cover such topics as comparative literary studies, English, French and Italian, Slavic languages and literatures, and theatre.

Capstone Project - LIT 590 Thesis Research

Students sign up for the final course in the program during the term in which they start their master's thesis. The capstone project for the MALit program is an essay of 45 to 75 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. With the approval of the program director, students may create an interdisciplinary final project rather than a traditional thesis.

Core Courses:

  • IPLS 420-0 Introduction to Digital Studies
  • LIT 410-0 Intro to Graduate Study
  • LIT 410-0 Introduction to Graduate Study
  • LIT 590-0 Thesis Research

Elective Courses:

  • IPLS 401-0 Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad
  • IPLS 401-0 Religion, Existentialism, and Film
  • IPLS 401-0 Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film and Theory
  • IPLS 402-0 Asian Religions in Lit & Film
  • IPLS 492-0 Millennial Masculinities
  • IPLS 492-0 Loving the Child
  • IPLS 492-0 New Documentary Film
  • IPLS 492-0 Queer Theory
  • IPLS 492-0 Black Chicago
  • IPLS 492-0 What is the Truth?
  • IPLS 492-0 Defining Chicago
  • LIT 405-0 20th C British & American Lit
  • LIT 405-0 Topics: 1890s British Lit
  • LIT 405-0 Virtues/Vice - Renaissance Lit
  • LIT 405-0 20th C Lit: Joyce and Woolf
  • LIT 405-0 Grief and Mourning - Brit Lit.
  • LIT 405-0 Reading Romantic Poetry
  • LIT 405-0 Henry James and Film
  • LIT 405-0 Can You Have Good Without God?
  • LIT 405-0 Reading Romantic Poems
  • LIT 405-0 Representing the Psyche
  • LIT 405-0 Experiments With Verse
  • LIT 405-0 Victorian Travel & Crime
  • LIT 405-0 Anglo-American Mysteries
  • LIT 405-0 The Seven Deadly Sins
  • LIT 405-0 Conceptions of the Body in Midieval Literature
  • LIT 405-05 Jane Austen and The Rise of The Novel
  • LIT 480-0 Liberty in Western Drama
  • LIT 480-0 Comp Lit: Fictions of the City
  • LIT 480-0 Lit. and Cultures of 1968
  • LIT 480-0 Feminism as Cultural Critique
  • LIT 480-0 Indochina and Duras
  • LIT 480-0 Postmodern Film
  • LIT 480-0 Love and Sexuality - Comp Lit
  • LIT 480-0 The Novel Novel
  • LIT 480-0 An Exploration of German Film
  • LIT 480-0 Latin Amer. & Latina/o Sci-Fi
  • LIT 480-0 Slum Cinema
  • LIT 480-0 French & Francophone Women’s Writing
  • LIT 492-0 Topics in Lit: The Jazz Age
  • LIT 492-0 19th-C American Lit Culture
  • LIT 492-0 Topics: Proust
  • LIT 492-0 In the Heart of the City
  • LIT 492-0 Founding Terrors
  • LIT 492-0 Mysteries of Cities - Amer Lit
  • LIT 492-0 Travelers, Exiles, and Expats
  • LIT 492-0 Poetics of African Amer. Lit.
  • LIT 492-0 Race, Space & Place in Chicago
  • LIT 492-0 Contemporary Adaptation
  • LIT 492-0 Lit of Amer. Century & After
  • LIT 492-0 Inventing the American Novel
  • LIT 492-0 21st-Century Latino Literature
  • LIT 492-0 Literature and Wartime
  • LIT 492-0 Bad Mothers
  • LIT 492-0 Chicago Transformed
  • LIT 492-0 The US-Mexico Border in Literature and Film
  • LIT 492-0 Feminism in Trumplandia