British Studies Opportunities for Graduate Students at Eastern Illinois

Why Eastern Illinois? The Graduate School at Eastern Illinois University has two First Choice programs - the M.A. in English and the M.A. in History - which offer scope and opportunity for anyone wishing to pursue advanced study in British history, society, and literature, from Medieval to Modern Britain, from early modern criminal records to post-colonial literature. While there is no separate program in British Studies, there are several professors researching and publishing in British history and literature, and numerous courses that allow advanced study in the field.

Students at Eastern Illinois have written theses, published essays, and given conference papers in aspects of British and Irish literature and history. Moreover, the two departments work closely with Booth Library to purchase needed online databases and books and journals needed for research in the field (see the list of current English Literature and History databases). In addition, the two programs work with each other to allow M.A. students in one department to count a relevant course in the other on their study plans: allowing for integrative and interdisciplinary learning (see your respective Graduate Coordinator for details).

Featured History Faculty Featured English Faculty

Newton Key

Jad Smith
(PhD, Cornell; M.Phil., Cambridge) has published extensively in late-Stuart/early Hanoverian history, and co-authored a best-selling text on Early Modern England (2nd ed., 2009). He offers graduate courses on European Revolutions, Early Modern European Society, and Irish History. He is interested in working with graduates focusing on the British Isles between 1550 and 1800. (PhD, Carnegie Mellon) has published on "Charity Education and the Spectacle of 'Christian Entertainment'" (2009); on Locke's early theory of cultural reproduction; and sensation, sexuality, and the epistemology of the closet in Cleland's Memoirs. His current book manuscript, is tentatively titled "Childhood and Moral Reform in the Age of Locke." He teaches seminars on Enlightenment Sexualities, and Eighteenth-Century Drama, and is interested in working with graduates on aspects of the long eighteenth century.

Charles Foy

Melissa Caldwell

(PhD, Rutgers) has written on African-American sailors in the 18th-century Atlantic World. He offers graduate courses on colonial and revolutionary America and on the Atlantic World. He is interested in working with graduate students interested in the British 18th-century slave trade among other topics. (PhD, North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is interested in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century intellectual history, literature, and religion. She has published on “Minds Indifferent: Milton, Lord Brooke, and the Value of Adiaphora on the Eve of the English Civil War” (2007) and “Medicine, Skepticism, and Post-Reformation Ethics: Richard Hooker’s Galen” (forthcoming).  She teaches graduate courses and is interested in working with students on early modern literature and intellectual culture.

Roger Beck

Randall L. Beebe
(PhD, Indiana) has written numerous works on missionaries and the settlement of Africa, and a History of South Africa (2000). He offers graduate courses on Imperialism. He is interested in working with graduates on Victorian Africa, missionaries, and 20th-Century southern Africa. (PhD, Pennsylvania State) studies and teaches literary theory and cultural criticism, with interests in English Romantic literature, and science and literature. His works include "George Eliot and Emil Lehmann: The Translator Translated" (2000) and co-author of an article on the Culture of Technology in the Writing Center (2000).

Michael Shirley

Julie Campbell
(PhD, Illinois) has published works on British 19th-century newspapers, and is co-editor of Splendidly Victorian: Essays in Honour of Walter L. Arnstein (2001). He offers a graduate course on historical publishing, and is interested in working with students on Victorian society and politics. (PhD, Texas A&M) specializes in the Renaissance and 17th-century continental and English women writers. Among her works relevant to English literature is her Literary Circles and Gender in Early Modern Europe (2006), and her co-edited Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters (2009). She teaches graduate courses on Renaissance and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, and is interested in working with students on aspects of both.

Bailey K. Young

Dagni Bredesen

(PhD, Pennsylvania) offers a graduate seminar on the medieval church and state, and is interested in working with graduate students on the archaeology and history of the Celtic/Anglo-Saxon world. (PhD, Washington) has published extensively on Victorian widows, detectives (The First Female Detectives, 2010), and publishing. She offers graduate courses on Victorian detective fiction and British imperial literature, and is interested in students working on Victorian or colonial/post-colonial Sub-Saharan literature.

Ruth Hoberman
  (PhD, Columbia) teaches and researches in modern British literature and women's studies. In 2006, she was named Eastern's Distinguished Faculty Member. She is the co-editor of Trespassing Boundaries: Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction (2004) and author of Gendering Classicism: The Ancient World in Twentieth-Century Women's Historical Fiction (1997) and Modernizing Lives: Experiments in English Biography, 1918-1939 (1987), as well as numerous journal essays.

Edmund Wehrle
Graduate Director
History Department
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
2576 Coleman Hall

Ruth Hoberman
Director of Graduate Studies
English Department
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
3755 Coleman Hall

Graduate Achievements in British History and Literature at Eastern Illinois

Recent Theses on British History at EIU

Recent Theses on British Literature at EIU
  • The Irish in London ca. 1800
  • London Murderesses over the long 18th century
  • Late-Stuart York
  • Calendar celebrations in Stuart England
  • Translating Anglo-Saxon poetry
  • Representations of working women in Elizabeth Gaskell's work
  • The rhetoric of rule in the letters of Elizabeth I

Recent British Studies Conference Papers/Publications/Awards
by EIU History MA students

Recent British Studies Conference Papers/Publications/Awards
by EIU English MA students
  • British and American Newspaper Coverage of Irish-Americans in the 1880s (King-Mertz Award of Excellence in the College of Arts and Humanities)
  • Murderous Women, Public Justice, and the Social Order in London 1674-1796 (Research and Creative Achievement Award for Presentation, Eastern Carolina)
  • Gender in Crime Ballads in Early Modern England; Witchcraft Historiography on the Twentieth Century; Clubmen During the English Civil War; Early Modern Views of the Poor and Poor Relief; Portraying Satan in the Ballads of Seventeenth Century England (all Historia)
  • Pope-Burning Processions and English Cultural Values; Public Performances under Mary; Elizabeth and James Compared; Sherlock Holmes, Victorian Women, and Crime (all Loyola History Graduate Conferences, Chicago)
  • Special mention of undergraduate James Buckwalter, a North American Conference on British Studies Undergraduate Essay Contest winner (2010) for his study of the British Government and Slave Shipboard Insurrections in the 18th century
  • "Translating the Green Knight:  How Word Choice Affects Reader Interpretation"; "Realizing Male Fantasies: An Exploration of Gender Identity during the Enlightenment" (both Midwest Conference on Literature, Language, and Media at Northern Illinois University)
  • "Pound's Appropriation of the Seafarer" (Vagantes Conference at Florida State)
  • "Caleb Williams: The Battle between Romance and Class" (1st Prize 2009 Women's Studies Essay Contest, EIU)
  • Gender Transgression and Monstrous Desire in Fielding's The Female Husband (1st Prize 2009 Literary Essay Contest, English Department EIU)

Sources and Databases at Eastern Illinois

Booth Library has purchased/subscribed to Early English Books Online (all works printed in English before 1700), British Periodicals (general, political, and literary journals from the 17th to the 20th century), 19th Century UK Periodicals Digital Archive (new readerships collection), The Times of London online, the Oxford English Dictionary online, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, as well as J-Stor and other academic journal-article databases. Professors work with the library to acquire the newest books and students have full access to Interlibrary Loan. (Check out the select lists of Literature/Drama and History sources, journals, and databases.)

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