The PhD program in literary studies/theatre studies in english is divided into five fields of specialization:
The Canadian studies field focuses on (a) nineteenth-century, (b) twentieth-century, and (c) contemporary Canadian writing and performance, in conjunction with critical and theoretical issues of nation and colonization in relation to cultural, historical, and political contexts. As it has been developed at Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier, the field stresses important connections: with other postcolonial literatures; with the practice of creative writing; with the theorizing of power relations around race, gender, colonization, disability, sexual orientation, and cultural diversity; with the performance of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity; with the material conditions of literary and theatrical production and performance; and with archival resources and historical retrieval.
The early modern studies field focuses primarily on theorizing sixteenth and seventeenth-century textuality and performance from positions that attend to issues of gender, colonialism, and the materiality and historicization of literary and theatrical cultures. Core faculty have employed both the terms "early modern" and "Renaissance" in relation to their work, but the choice of the former for the name of the field recognizes the debate over the use of "Renaissance" in a postcolonial context. The field engages the materiality of early modern studies, including archival research, editorial theory and practice, and theatre history, as well as the ways in which contemporary culture has absorbed and refashioned early modern textualities and theatrical practices.
The field of postcolonial studies examines the documents (literary, performative, informational, and popular) produced by colonized and colonizer during the colonial period and after political decolonization, for the purpose of analyzing the social and political contexts of the contact zones created among different cultures by the colonial experience and reactions to it. This field embraces issues pertaining to empire, race, gender, ethnicity, class, and the performative construction of postcolonial subjectivity. It also includes the examination of diasporas, the interaction of the global and the local, and issues of hybridity and transnationalism.
The specialization in gender and genre emerges from the intersection of two broad conceptual areas within literary and theatre studies. In the wake of feminist theory and criticism, performance theory, cultural studies, and queer theory, gender has become recognized as a crucial factor in the production, circulation, and consumption of literary, theatrical, and other cultural discourses. The field incorporates a range of inquiries and methodologies that explore the cultural construction of gender and sexuality in relation to the literary, historical, performative, psychosexual, and political contexts of genres.
The nineteenth-century studies field focuses on theorizing and contextualizing the literature of the so-called "Long Nineteenth Century" (1789-1914), with particular attention to such issues as gender, colonialism and imperialism, nationalism, scientific developments, radical politics, subcultures, and transatlantic exchanges. Unsettling the canonical separations of Romantic, Victorian, and Gothic, the field will engage the materiality of nineteenth-century studies, particularly through a cultural-studies-oriented engagement with archival research, editorial theory and practice, historicization and popular culture, women's writing, regional and national traditions as distinct from the metropole's, working-class literature, dramatic writing.