To study English — its language, literature and culture — means to read, to think and to write critically and creatively about literature. Your studies will take you across the span of history, around the globe, and into fundamental questions of the meaning and value of life.
Here in UCSB’s English Department, you can explore language, literature and culture as they intersect with a wide variety of areas – the climate crisis, digital media, race and ethnicity, Indigeneity, the embodied mind, literary theory, material culture, performance studies – across a full range of historical periods from the distant past to the present. You have the opportunity to explore both creative and critical methodologies in the wide variety of classes that we offer.
Your studies will give you the opportunity to work closely in small classes with our acclaimed teachers. Our undergraduate research initiatives offer the chance for students to work closely with our renowned faculty, including individually through our Honors program and in team projects.
Our department offers eight different optional specializations within the English major. You can choose to focus your studies on a range of areas, either thematic (the environment, the mind, technology), historical (medieval literatures, early modern studies, modern literature), geographical (American cultures), or methodological (creative writing). Each specialization is sponsored by one of our world-class research centers. Through specializing, you will become part of the associated center’s research community.
Values and Commitments
We are committed to anti-racism in our teaching and scholarship. The study of literature necessarily involves engaging with questions of ethics, empathy, and justice. As such, we see a close connection between our work as scholars and teachers of English and the imperatives of equity and diversity. Learn more about our ongoing work in this area.
The skills that you will develop through your studies in English carry demonstrated benefits for life beyond university. Former students have gone on to a wide range of careers, equipped with the skills of critical thought, sensitive reading, and communicative writing that our courses teach. Just as importantly, outside the logic of the skills economy, an English degree helps you develop a greater sensitivity for the struggles, the passions, and the beauty of life.
The department offers a number of programs and initiatives for our undergraduates.
Interested students are encouraged to apply to the Arnhold Undergraduate Research Program, which supports undergraduate research by providing individual mentoring, workshops, and opportunities for presenting and publishing your research.
We are very proud to support our own quarterly literary arts magazine, The Catalyst, which is open to contributions from all UCSB students, faculty and staff. If you are interested in joining the Catalyst team, you can find more information here.
We also administer three annual writing contests which celebrate the creative and critical achievements of our undergraduate writers.