About the English Department

Aerial view of UCSB campus

The UCSB English Department offers courses in a full range of literary historical periods, national and transnational literatures in English, and critical approaches. It is distinctive for eight multidisciplinary centers that cut across traditional boundaries and allow faculty, post-doctoral and visiting scholars, graduate and undergraduate students to collaborate on critical and creative activities. The research clusters reimagine what it is to teach the humanities, privileging collaborative knowledge-practices as the necessary complement to the traditional classroom. This model of balanced education is the foundation of a robust English major. Our undergraduate programs are research-intensive and production-based; the Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows Program and the Honors Program attract the most serious and creative undergraduates. For graduate students, the nine centers serve as platforms for developing research, publishing, and curatorial skills, for experimenting with innovative pedagogy, and for professional training in planning, organizing, and hosting workshops, conferences, talks, and lectures. On all these fronts, the department prepares students in the public humanities: to study, write, teach, design, and perform the imaginative arts that can transform everyday worlds.

Graduate Program

The department has a strong, integrated M.A./Ph.D. graduate program that has climbed up in the latest National Research Council national rankings (2010).  Graduate students have a great deal of freedom to choose from both traditional and innovative courses of study (starting with a choice of field exam lists for their first-qualifying exam). They have many opportunities to add to their training through teaching, serving as research assistants for the department's centers and funded projects, and participating in departmental activities (including conferences, colloquia, and searches for faculty). The department's  placement of its graduate students in academic jobs and postdoctoral fellowships, while subject to the difficulties of the academic job market for the humanities in general, has equaled or exceeded the level of many elite programs in the nation. The graduate program benefits in particular from its medium size, which allows for both range and intimacy, strong esprit among students (who engage in collaborative study and research activities), and more than usually tight bonds with faculty. A "Doctoral Colloquium" course provides the formal means for graduate students to learn about the protocols of the profession of literary studies--writing a dissertation, getting a job, publishing, and so on.

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate majors benefit from the "specializations" or curricular tracks offered within the English major. Each are sponsored by one of the department's centers, and students may graduate with an additional certificate of specialization if at least four of the courses they choose as upper-division electives in the major also qualify for a specialization. The department also offers the innovative Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows Program, which allows students admitted into the program to participate in research workshops and activities, lunch with faculty in their areas of interest, and present original research to both their peers and faculty members at the end of each school year. Undergraduates are involved in two publications featuring creative research: Emergence, a journal associated with the Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows Program, and The Catalyst, a student-run zine partly funded by the English Department. The department's Honors Program complements these and other opportunities for motivated students who want to complete their major with a honors seminar, followed by the writing of a senior thesis.