Perhaps the most important resource for graduate students outside of the English Department is the University's Special Collections Department, home to a first-rate archive of twentieth-century writers' manuscripts and other papers. The Modern Literary Manuscripts Collection focuses on the careers of 125 major literary figures including Samuel Beckett, Howard Nemerov, Stanley Elkin, William Gass, Mona Van Duyn, William Gaddis, and the world's most complete holding of writings by and about the American poet James Merrill. Taken as a whole, the collection consists of more than a quarter of a million manuscript items, correspondence, and ephemera, thousands of photographs, scores of unique audio-taped readings from the 1950s onward, and numerous videotaped readings. The Special Collections Department also coordinates occasional exhibitions of collected authors' papers, such as the 2000 exhibition "James Merrill: Other Writings," which included essays and related Merrill scholarship from several English department graduate students.
The department encourages interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work in addition to the regular interdisciplinary course offerings. The American Culture Studies program draws on a range of academic disciplines from across the university, encouraging its students as they pursue their particular discipline and interests to link those studies with other academic fields. Graduate students in English regularly cross paths with students from the German and Romance Languages departments and Comparative Literature Program in courses that appeal to their fields of study. And both the English Department and the Comparative Literature Program sponsor theme-based annual critical forums for their students in the spring. The Women and Gender Studies program, like the American Culture Studies program, offers an interdisciplinary certificates to graduate students. The program looks at the lives of women and their concerns, examining society and culture from various feminist, diasporic, and ethnic perspectives.
Building on the strengths of the university's resident and faculty writers, the Center for the Humanities coordinates readings, forums, colloquia, and other literary events with local, national, and international writers throughout the year. The center opened in 1990 as the International Writers Center under the direction of writer and Washington University professor William Gass and continues to serve as a focal point for literature and writing in St. Louis. Many of the local writers connected with the IWC have published their work in local literary magazines such as River Styx and Delmar Literary Magazine. River Styx administrative archives are collected in Modern Literary Manuscripts Collection of the Special Collection Departments.
Contact the Academic Coordinator:
Campus Box 1122
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899