within the English MA degree program

This multidisciplinary and interdepartmental concentration offers postgraduate study that joins the study of literature and literary theory to the study of religious traditions. It is jointly administered through the English and Religious Studies departments and is open to MA students in both departments.

Students pursuing an MA degree in English who enter WRWL complete all the requirements for the MA in English while undertaking more specialized work in chosen areas of religion and literature. So, for instance, one might decide to work on elegy and liturgy in two early American colonial communities, or to compare novels of the Islamic and Jewish communities in twentieth-century South Africa, or to study Middle English, French, and Latin devotional practices through early English books of hours.

In addition to exploring both a broad range of courses and these more specialized areas of competence, WRWL students also share in an introductory course and a continuous proseminar discussion that supports intellectual exchange and comparative thought. Students are instructed by members of the UVA faculty in English and in Religious Studies, as well as MESALC, Spanish, French, German, and other language departments.

The course requirements for WRWL are those for the English MA: 8 graded courses and a final exam or thesis (30 credit hours).  Among those courses, WRWL students must complete:

- ENGL 5830, Introduction to World Religion, World Literature

- 6 credits that study a religious tradition (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.)

- 3 credits in a course that reads scripture

- 3 semesters of 1-credit ENGL 5831:  Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

- 6 credits in the literature of a single language community (either in one historical period or two consecutive historical periods, for instance Modern Caribbean or 18th and 19th c England) or in the literature of a pair of language communities within one historical period (for instance, late medieval England and France or contemporary U.S. and Britain).

Please note that a single course can be used to satisfy more than one of the requirements listed above. Courses should be chosen in consultation with the director of the program in English.

There is a BA/MA track for undergraduate students at UVA who would like to finish the MA in English with a Concentration in World Religions, World Literatures within one year after obtaining the BA; that track requires application by May of the third undergraduate year.

For more information, please contact the WRWL co-directors Prof. Elizabeth Fowler ( in English and Prof. Kevin Hart ( in Religious Studies.

Nov. 2018