The Literature Major 2012-13
The study of literature at UC Santa Cruz is organized as an interdisciplinary field coordinated through a single Department of Literature, rather than through separate departments of English, modern languages, and classics. This structure fosters innovative and comparative approaches to literature among both faculty and students. Courses in the major encompass traditional literary history and interpretation as well as cross-cultural inquiry and current theoretical debates.
Study and Research Opportunities
- B.A. with the concentrations listed below; M.A.; Ph.D.
- Students in the creative writing concentration work with faculty in upper-division workshops to improve their creative writing skills. In the senior year, each student produces a senior project consisting of a significant body of creative work. Admission to this concentration is selective.
High School Preparation
In addition to completing the courses required for UC admission, high school students planning to major in literature at UC Santa Cruz should emphasize reading and writing skills in high school. Some background in a foreign language is helpful. The Literature Department faculty requires that all literature majors have proficiency in a second language.
Transfer students planning to major in literature will find it helpful to take courses that satisfy campus general education requirements before coming to UC Santa Cruz. They should also have some training in analytical and expository writing; an introductory course in literary interpretation and one additional literature course are especially desirable. Transfer students are urged to complete the Literature language proficiency requirement before transferring to UC Santa Cruz. The Literature language proficiency requirement is as follows: One year (three quarters or equivalent) of college level study of a non-English language OR demonstrated reading ability at this level.
Transfer students are urged to declare the major in their first quarter at UC Santa Cruz. Students must successfully complete Literature 1 (Literary Interpretation) or its equivalent prior to declaring the literature major or minor. A student may petition to receive credit toward the lower-division requirements of the major for up to two courses taken at other institutions. An introduction to literature course may be used to satisfy the Literary Interpretation course requirement. One literature course may be applied toward the Literature 61 series or the Literature 80 series course requirement.
UC Santa Cruz lower-division requirements in literature are:
- Literature 1 (Literary Interpretation): close reading and analysis of literary texts
- One Literature 61-series course: categories, methodologies, and problems of literary study OR one Literature 80-series course: topical, thematic, and comparative study of literary texts
- Language proficiency: One year (three quarters or equivalent) of college level study of a non-English language OR demonstrated reading ability at this level
Standard literature major: Twelve courses are required: two lower-division and 10 upper-division courses. One of the latter may be a Senior Seminar, which may be used to satisfy the campus comprehensive (exit) requirement. In exceptional cases, and with faculty permission, students may write a senior thesis to satisfy the exit requirement. Students must successfully complete Literature 1 (Literary Interpretation) or its equivalent prior to declaring the literature major or minor.
Intensive literature major: Fourteen courses are required: two lower-division and 12 upper-division courses. One of the upper-division courses may be a Senior Seminar, which may be used to satisfy the campus comprehensive (exit) requirement. In addition to the Standard Literature major requirement of one year (three quarters or equivalent) of college level study of a non-English language OR demonstrated reading ability at this level, students must complete at least two upper-division courses in a second-language literature studied in the original language. Upper-division literature course work may require completion of a lower-division language sequence or the equivalent.
Further Information for Transfers
While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz.
Transfer course agreements and articulation between the University of California and California community colleges can be accessed on the ASSIST.ORG web site.
- Civil service
- Library science
- Literary criticism
- Literary research
- Professional writing
These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.
Professor of literature and Director of the Dickens Project John O. Jordan’s most recent book, Supposing Bleak House, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2011.
Sharon Kinoshita, professor of literature and co-director of the UCSC Center for Mediterranean Studies, is the co-author, with Peggy McCracken, of Marie de France: A Critical Companion, published by Boydell & Brewer in 2012. Professor Kinoshita is also the co-author, with Virginie Greene, Sarah Kay, Peggy McCracken, and Zrinka Stahuljak, of Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes, published by Boydell & Brewer in 2011.
Kimberly Lau, professor of literature, is the author of Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women's Fitness, and Feminist Identity Politics, published by Temple University Press in 2011.
Professor of literature and creative writing Rob Wilson's book Be Always Converting, Be Always Converted: An American Poetics (Harvard University Press, 2009) was selected as one of Choice magazine's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009. Professor Wilson is also the author of Beat Attitudes: On the Roads to Beatitude for Post-Beat Writers, Dharma Bums, and Cultural-Political Activists (New Pacific Press, 2010).
Karen Tei Yamashita, professor of Literature and co-director of the Creative Writing Program, and Bettina Aptheker, professor of Feminist Studies, have been appointed to a University of California Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Professor Yamashita was also nominated for a 2010 National Book Award for her novel I Hotel, which describes the Asian American community in northern California in the '60s and early '70s.
Gary Young, lecturer of creative writing and a printer and book artist, was named 2012 Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.
Christopher Conway (B.A., Spanish/Latin American/Latino literatures, ’91) is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Texas Arlington. He is the author of The Cult of Bolívar in Latin American Literature (2003) and the editor of Peruvian Traditions by Ricardo Palma (Oxford University Press, 2004). Professor Conway’s current research focuses on 19th-century Mexico and particularly the U.S.-Mexico War; he is the editor of The U.S.-Mexican War: A Binational Reader, published in 2010 by Hackett Publishing Company.
Elizabeth Corsun (B.A., English and American literature, '91) is an Assistant Professor of English at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.
Merrill Feitell (B.A., creative writing ’03) is the author of Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes (University of Iowa Press, 2004), for which she received the 2004 Iowa Award for Short Fiction. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at University of Maryland, and is at work on a novel called Any Minute Now, which tells the story of a fractured New Hampshire family and chronicles an aspiring rock band’s rise to fame.
Reyna Grande (B.A., creative writing and film and video, ’99) is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Across A Hundred Mountains (Atria 2006), for which she has received an American Book Award (2007) and El Premio Aztlan Literary Award (2006). Her second novel, Dancing with Butterflies, was published in October 2009 and received the 2010 International Latino Book Award, Best Women's Issues. Grande’s most recent book, The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, was published by Atria Books in 2012.
Manuel Gutiérrez (B.A., Spanish/Latin American/Latino literatures, '01) is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Stephen Meadows (B.A., creative writing,'88) is the author of Releasing the Days, a collection of poetry published in 2011 by Heyday Books. Meadows's work is also included in The Dirt Is Red Here: Art and Poetry from Native California, edited by Margaret D. Dubin and published by Heyday Books in 2002.
Aldo Mercado (B.A., literature, '00) earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law, andnow practices law in California.
Michael Scherer (B.A., creative writing, ’98) is Time magazine’s Washington correspondent. “Personally, the thing I still get the greatest joy out of is that one good sentence,” said Scherer. “I still aspire to writing the kind of magazine piece you read and show friends, telling them, ‘You have to read this’—where you learn more than the subject matter; you learn something about the world.”
The purpose of the upper-division area of concentration is to help students shape a coherent program of study. The department provides several defined concentrations, described below. For all concentrations except national/transnational literatures, texts may be read in the original or in translation.
National/Transnational Literatures: These concentrations examine literature within the frameworks of particular languages or national and regional traditions. National/transnational concentrations require that texts be read in the original language.
- English-language literatures
The study of American and British literature, as well as literatures of other English-speaking peoples around the world.
- French literature
The study of French and Francophone literatures, languages, and cultural practices of France, Africa, and the Caribbean.
- German literature
The study of the literature, language, and cultural practices of the German-speaking areas of central Europe including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
- Greek and Latin literatures
The study of the literature, languages, and cultural practices of ancient Greece and Rome. Students may choose to concentrate in Greek or Latin or both.
- Italian literature
The study of Italian literature, language, and cultural practices from the Middle Ages to the present.
- Spanish/Latin American/Latino literatures
The study of literatures, language, and cultural practices of Spain, Latin America, and Latino populations in the United States.
Creative Writing: The Department of Literature offers a sequence of workshops from introductory through advanced levels in both poetry and fiction. Other activities available to interested students include participation in the production of literary journals on campus, attendance at readings by visiting writers, and use of a creative writing reading room.
Admission to this concentration is selective. Interested students are required to take one lower-division creative writing workshop at UCSC before applying to the creative writing concentration; however, students are strongly encouraged to complete two lower-division workshops (at least one at UCSC) before applying.
Students accepted into the concentration must complete three advanced writing workshops and a senior project (e.g., a group of stories, a significant portion of a novel, a collection of poems). To apply for admission to the creative writing concentration, students should submit a completed application form (available at the Literature Department Office) and a thoughtful selection from their work (8–10 pages of poetry or fiction). Once accepted into the concentration, students are required to declare (or redeclare) the major in literature. At that time, students should meet with their adviser to discuss plans for a senior project.
Pre- and Early Modern Studies: The interdisciplinary study of literatures and cultures from antiquity through the early 18th century, especially in Europe. Study of popular culture and everyday life as well as readings in masterpieces of classical, medieval, early modern (Renaissance), and neo-classical literature.
Modern Literary Studies: The study of literature of the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. This concentration examines ways in which modernity in general and literary modernism and postmodernism in particular emerge and develop in different countries and cultures.
World Literature and Cultural Studies: The study of literature and cultural production both within a global context and within specific histories and economies. Courses move beyond the literary text to include nonverbal forms of representation such as social movements and everyday life practices.
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