Literature, PhD

Share in the poet's search for wisdom.

The University of Dallas grants all PhDs through the Institute of Philosophic Studies. The philosophic character of literary study within the Institute is reflected in a concentration upon major authors whose works can claim philosophic scope and penetration. Students inquire into the issues treated by great writers, considering the literary treatment as one voice in a conversation in which philosophers, political thinkers, and theologians also participate.

Enter into the Western tradition. 

The poet seeks to supplant opinion with knowledge by constructing images of reality that cannot be translated readily into other forms of insight yet are best studied in their company because they explore the same reality.

Institute students join professors dedicated to grasping how and what literary works—verse and prose narratives, tragic and comedic dramas, lyric poems, stylized essays—can teach us about reality and wisdom. Students learn to apprehend the forms of linguistic art by attending to the qualities of poetic speech and by studying the kinds of poetry. They investigate such artistic patterns as those of mythos, ethos, figure, prosody, tone, style, and speech act. In the process they come to appreciate the notable congruences of particularity with generality, of images and concepts, that characterize the poetic mode of being.

The kinds of poetry, the perennial genres, need not be taken as prescriptions arbitrarily imposed, for they can be understood as the shapes literature displays when informed by various human actions and to answer various human wants. Neither the constants of poetic speech nor the continuities of genre sufficiently specify the particular purchase upon human issues offered by any great literary work. To bring this meaning into sharper resolution requires the final act of literary understanding, interpretation of individual poems, an undertaking in which the comparison of poem with poem has its instructive part.

Critical interpretation entails the most careful and sustained attentiveness to elucidating meaning and culminates in critical judgment of the contribution of that meaning to one’s grasp of the truth.

The interpretive dimension of the program is reflected in courses that define their formal object sometimes by genre (epic, lyric, dramatic tragedy and comedy, Menippean satire, the novel), sometimes by cultural period (classical, medieval, early-modern, neo-classical, romantic, American Renaissance, Victorian, modernist), sometimes geopolitically (British, of the American South, postcolonial), and sometimes in major authors (Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Shakespeare, Austen, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Conrad, Joyce, Eliot, Stevens, Woolf, Faulkner, Auden, Heaney, Morrison, Wilbur).

Students confront the claims of classical, Christian, and modern poets. They thereby enter into the issues that cause the Western tradition to be a tradition of controversies.


Related Programs

The Institute of Philosophic Studies offers three doctoral concentrations: literature, philosophy and politics.

Man reading Plato's Republic


Students discussing


English Department Faculty

Debra Romanick Baldwin, Ph.D.

Debra Romanick Baldwin Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Chair, English Department

Phone: (972) 721-4051


Office: Braniff #364

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Sarah Berry Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Literature

Phone: (972) 721-5246


Office: Braniff #120

Brett Bourbon, Ph.D.

Brett Bourbon Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English

Phone: (972) 265-5829


Office: Braniff #368

Scott Crider, Ph.D.

Scott Crider Ph.D.

Professor, English

Phone: (972) 721-5218


Office: SB Hall #207

David Davies, Ph.D.

David Davies Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Classics, English

Phone: (972) 721-5213


Office: Braniff Graduate Building #366

Kathryn Davis, Ph.D.

Kathryn Davis Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English

Phone: (972) 265-5845


Office: Braniff Graduate Building #362

Robert Scott Dupree, Ph.D.

Robert Dupree (Scott) Ph.D.

Professor, English

Phone: (972) 721-5311


Office: Catherine Hall #225

Eileen Gregory, Ph.D.

Eileen Gregory Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor Emerita, English

Fr. Robert Maguire, O.Cist.

Fr. Robert Maguire O.Cist.

Affiliated Assistant Professor, English

Phone: (972) 721-5343


Office: Braniff #318

Andrew Moran, Ph.D.

Andrew Moran Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English

Phone: (972) 721-4115


Office: Braniff #236

Andrew Osborn, Ph.D.

Andrew Osborn Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English; Director of IPS-Literature Doctoral Program & Graduate Programs in English; Editor of The Wallace Stevens Journal

Phone: (972) 721-4087


Office: Braniff #314

Gregory Roper, Ph.D.

Gregory Roper (Greg) Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English and Dean of Students

Phone: (972) 265-5747


Office: Haggar University Center, 2nd Floor

Steven Stryer, D.Phil.

Steven Stryer Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English

Phone: (972) 721-4080


Office: Braniff Graduate Building #316

Bernadette Waterman Ward, Ph.D.

Bernadette Waterman Ward Ph.D.

Professor of English, Undergraduate Director of English

Phone: (972) 721-5339


Office: Braniff Graduate Building 306

Gerard Wegemer, Ph.D.

Gerard Wegemer Ph.D.

Professor of English

Phone: (972) 721-5327


Office: Braniff Graduate Building #310