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M. Phil. in Literatures of the Americas

Course Director: Dr Melanie Otto

Click here for general details on how to apply for this course at Trinity College.


The programme lasts one year from September and requires full-time study.

Closing Date:

31st March 2018.
Applications for admission to TCD’s taught postgraduate programmes in 2018/19 will open in September 2017.
Candidates are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible. Next intake will be admitted in September 2018.

What is it?

Over the past few decades the scholarly fields of American Studies and Postcolonial Studies have undergone radical transformations. Their core concepts—including identity, race, citizenship, hybridity, and nationhood—have been redefined and reimagined in fundamental ways by writers such as Margaret Atwood, Ana Castillo, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Laurence Buell, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., whose practice has enlarged the conventional sense of what it means to read/write 'American' and/or 'Postcolonial' literature(s). This course, which started running in 2007, reflects on those changes and provides an opportunity to spend a year studying the literatures of the Americas in detail. The course stimulates fresh analyses of a wide range of American literatures in English and in translation into English, by canonical, mainstream, avant-garde and marginal writers, and by opening up research opportunities in this dynamic field it lays the foundations for further postgraduate (doctoral) research in Postcolonial and American literary studies. Graduates of the course have gone on to pursue PhD research at TCD and elsewhere on a wide range of subjects, including early American travel writing, the construction of diasporic identity in the work of Maeve Brennan, a study of Ted Hughes' engagements with ideas of America, a comparative reading of Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury, and a digital mapping of space in the writings of Roberto Bolaño. 

Students of the MPhil in Literatures of the Americas interact with literatures in various genres and from different historical periods in the development of a complex sense of the literatures of the Americas. Compulsory core modules provide students with a grounding in the key theoretical and historical debates in the field, and they allow them to explore a range of ideas in relation to established ('major') and peripheral ('minor') authors. Offering a range of additional modules, the MPhil provides ample scope for advanced readings in so-called 'classic U.S. American literature,'; but it also provides students with an opportunity to challenge conventional categorizations of writers from across the Americas—and not just in the United States—by fostering transnational and transhistorical perspectives.

Trinity’s School of English has a large and active cohort of research students, and five other taught MPhil courses. Participants in the MPhil in Literatures of the Americas will be part of a long-established and vigorous academic community. A weekly staff-postgraduate research seminar offers a lively forum for debate and the exchange of ideas. Postgraduates of the School of English routinely go on to further research and successful careers, in the academy and other fields. 

Course Structure

In addition to two compulsory core modules ('Reading the Americas 1' and 'Reading the Americas 2') students take one option module from a group of at least two in any given year, depending on staffing arrangements, as well as one compulsory single-author module. The core modules are taught in two 2-hour seminars in Michaelmas and Hilary term. In addition, students take one option module and the single-author module. Students also have to complete a supervised dissertation, which is researched and written during the late Spring and Summer months and submitted for examination at the end of August.

ECTS summary and calculations     



2 core modules at 20 ECTS each


1 option module


1 single-author module 10 ECTS






There are no timed examinations. Students submit two essays of 2,000 words for each core module (4 essays in total), and one essay of between 6,000 and 8,000 words for the option and single-author modules respectively. Essay titles will be provided before each module ends, but students are encouraged to propose their own titles for essays and to discuss these with the module coordinators before beginning their research. Students must complete and pass all assessment elements to pass the course. (The pass mark is 40%). The 6 essays taken together count for 60% of the final mark and the dissertation counts for 40%. Failed work may be resubmitted with the approval of the Course Committee. Further details about College regulations pertaining to postgraduate study are available in the College Calendar, Part 2. 


Students begin discussing topics for their dissertations with course coordinators early in Hilary semester, and supervisors will be assigned then. Given the extensive expertise of staff in the School, they will be able to discuss a wide variety of topics. Students are expected to complete preliminary bibliographies and dissertation outlines before the end of Hilary term. Dissertations of 15,000-18,000 words in length are due for submission on or before the 31st of August in a given year. Students will be expected to submit two copies of the dissertation, which should be typed and bound in accordance with the University guidelines, available from the Graduate Studies Office or Course Administrator. Degrees will be awarded to successful candidates at the Spring Commencements in the year following completion of the course.

Modules to be offered in 2017/18

In addition to the two compulsory core modules, 'Reading the Americas 1' and 'Reading the Americas 2', two option modules and one compulsory single-author module will be offered in 2017-18. All questions related to individual modules should be directed to the relevant module coordinators in the first instance, as indicated below. They will also be able to provide preliminary reading lists.


  • Creole Literatures (Dr Melanie Otto) - EN7038
  • Seeing 'New Englandly' (Dr Philip Coleman) - EN7095


  • Mark Twain's Americas (Prof Stephen Matterson) - EN7112

Course Handbook 2017-18

Course Handbook 2017-18

What qualifications do I need to apply?

Entry to this course is very competitive and prospective applicants are normally expected to have at least a high 2.1 (or equivalent) BA degree in English or a cognate discipline in order to be considered for entry. 

How do I apply?

Students wishing to find out more about the application process should click here for general details on how to apply for this course at Trinity College.


Course Director
Dr Melanie Otto
School of English
Room 4009
Arts Building
Trinity College Dublin
Telephone: +353-1-896-1335

Course Administrator
Diane Sadler
Senior Executive Officer
School of English
Room 4024
Arts Building
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2
Telephone: +353-1-896-1111

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