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English M.A. (Public Texts)

In the Public Texts M.A. program at Trent University, we explore what it means to “go public” – to “publish” – and how that act resonates for writers, cultures and publics. Our students will develop new ways of looking at the production  and circulation of texts, and at the history and future of texts and publics, exploring issues and emerging as central to research today.

Preparation for the future

Our program prepares our graduates for further study in a range of doctoral programs directly and indirectly related to the field of Public Texts. These include both traditional programs in English Literature and newly emerging programs in the History of the Book, Publishing and Print Culture. In addition, all of our students – especially those who take the Internship option – will benefit from the opportunity to develop professional skills applicable to fields such as publishing, editing, communications, journalism, information science and archival work.

Close working relationships between faculty and students

Trent University has a long history of encouraging our students' intellectual development and communication skills through our strong emphasis on small group teaching – an emphasis we believe contributes to our students’ exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge. This commitment, coupled with the modest size of the Public Texts program, will ensure that we are able to give you the personal guidance and encouragement needed to achieve your academic goals in a timely manner, whichever degree option you choose – Thesis, Major Research Paper or Internship.


The Public Texts program offers three ways to complete your degree: by Major Research Paper, by Thesis or by Internship. The program is unique in offering an Internship opportunity as part of a research degree. Student Interns will work with a range of institutions specifically involved in the production or circulation of Public Texts such as publishers, libraries, archives, bookstores, and scholarly journals; or will develop print or digital texts for publication on behalf of a variety of institutions and community groups; or will work with faculty on program-related research.

Some Collaborative Opportunities

The Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College. In collaboration with the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, the Public Texts program offers to a select number of students the opportunity to simultaneously earn an MA degree in English (Public Texts) and an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Creative Book Publishing. This option is available to students in all three streams of the MA program – Thesis, Major Research Paper or Internship – but is best suited to students in the Internship option who will then have available to them a very wide range of Internships through Humber College’s association with many of Canada’s leading publishers.

An Ideal Location

Trent University’s proximity to Toronto and Ottawa allows our students to supplement our own library’s excellent resources in the field of Public Texts with easy access to the two most important library/archival resources in Canada – the John P. Robarts Research Library at University of Toronto and the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa. Because of our close proximity to the University of Toronto and to Carleton University, with their PhD programs, respectively, in Book History and Print Culture and The Production of Literature, our M.A. students will also have an opportunity to participate in the wide range of activities which these programs make available.

The Public Texts program itself is located in Catharine Parr Traill College, designed by eminent Canadian architect Ron Thom and newly renovated as Trent University’s Graduate College. The Page Irwin Colloquium Room, in which all Public Texts colloquia and seminars are held, is dedicated to the Canadian poet/painter P.K. Page Irwin and her husband Arthur Irwin, editor of MacLean’s magazine and Commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada. It contains an outstanding collection of Page Irwin’s paintings as well as a collection of the books from Page's library which she selected as being most important to her. The College houses new and well-appointed graduate student offices and residences; it also is provided with generous and fully-equipped space for study and research. The College is in easy walking distance of Peterborough’s restaurant and entertainment district; and the picturesque and beautifully groomed Kawartha Rail Trail, ideal for walkers, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers, is on its doorstep.