Thank you for your responses!
IQ84, I mention my undergraduate thesis, included details of what exactly I wrote on, as examples of the sort of thing I'm interested in. I also express a desire to potentially continue this project (which is true). Do you think this is sufficient?
Thanks for your further advice as well - I've removed references to the canon and cut down on that whole angle slightly. In SOPs where it's relevant, I mention that I'm a former Writing Center Tutor, my major "teaching" experience thus far; I hope and assume not much more would be expected from someone seven months out of undergrad!
lyonessrampant, thanks for the advice in re: research institutes. I have incorporated that where it is relevant. I did decide to name professors; I find it works well in the context of my writing and SOPs. I have been reading their bios and trying to be as specific as possible.
Just to add a little context about me, I'm coming out of a no-name liberal arts school. My English department was wonderful, engaging, and encouraging, and they gave me all the opportunities they had with their very limited resources. Nonetheless, limited resources are just that, so I don't have major major research outside of my senior thesis and honors project, big name recs, lots of very narrow courses at an upper level, etc. I feel I do literally need an MA degree in order to be successful as a PhD candidate. I have a 3.9 GPA, 90th percentile GREs, and professors who know me very well to write recs, but I still worry about not being taken seriously due to my background. Thus, I see the SOPs as a place to show that I am a viable candidate. I suppose that's another topic in itself; has anyone come from an undergrad background like mine and gone on to graduate school success? What's your story?