Literary Arts

Choosing Courses


During each of your first three semesters, you are expected to enroll in the graduate workshop in your respective track. This course must be taken for regular course credit; the requirement may not be fulfilled through auditing. In the fourth semester, you are expected to enroll in LITR 2410 – Graduate Thesis Independent Study. You have quite a bit of flexibility when choosing the second course in each of your four semesters while working toward the MFA.

In the spring semester of the first year and the fall semester of the second year, you'll take 2 and 1/2 courses for credit: the Graduate Workshop; an elective and a half-credit course in pedagogy. The first-year pedagogy course must be taken before being approved to serve as a Teaching Assistant in the second year.

Non-Writing Courses

Many students choose to take their non-writing courses via literature departments. If you plan to seek a PhD after completing this degree, you may want to consider studying literature in the English Department, Comparative Literature, the language departments, Theatre and Performance Studies, or in Modern Culture and Media. You are not limited to literature courses; the department will support your choice as long as you feel the course will help you in your writing. Students in the past have studied a second language, other arts, such as painting and sculpture, and a wide variety of academic disciplines. Once you venture into such territory, you have to work a little harder to get good advice about courses. Some basic rules are:

  1. Attend many classes during the first week of classes (no choice made before school starts need be your final decision).
  2. Check out the books through the bookstore (or through the online syllabus, if posted).
  3. Talk to the instructors (or write to them electronically). If their courses don’t seem right for you, they may suggest alternatives.
  4. Talk to students, both undergraduates and graduates. Many may have had useful experiences with the instructor of the class.

Course Transfer

Should you wish to do so and should you receive approval from the Director of Graduate Studies, you may include up to one transfer course toward your degree. This may be a graduate-level course completed before you started at Brown (but one that has not counted toward another degree); or you may seek permission to take up to one graduate-level course through an exchange program established between Brown and Harvard. You should discuss this option with the Director of Graduate Studies as soon you as you think that you may wish to pursue this option.

RISD Courses

In addition, you may take graduate-level elective courses through an exchange program established between Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. Again, discuss this with the Director of Graduate Studies as soon as you think that this may be an option worth pursuing.

Audit Courses

So long as you are enrolled for the right number of courses for grade credit, you may also take up to one course per semester for audit credit.