The organization of the Department of Literature is unusual in that it is neither a department of English nor a department of Comparative Literature as either is traditionally construed. Rather, from its beginning, the Literature Department at UCSD has aimed to be a department of world literatures and cultures within a single unit committed to the multilingual historical study of the connections and conflicts between cultures and society. This commitment includes the ambitious project of teaching and conducting research in Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Latin, Russian, and Spanish, as well as the study and practice of writing.
At the graduate level we offer two distinct degree programs: a single Ph.D. in Literature and an M.F.A. in Writing. The Ph.D. in Literature stresses the transnational outlook of our program and emphasizes its stake in theoretical, interdisciplinary, and cultural studies. The M.F.A. in Writing offers specializations in fiction and poetry, and emphasizes innovative and experimental approaches to writing.
The Department of Literature at UCSD offers an intriguing example of how the Humanities can renew their place in today’s university by reconfiguring literary and cultural studies in an era of unprecedented global exchange. The collective strengths of our diverse faculty suggest ways in which it might be possible to develop theoretical sophistication and openness to various forms of cultural production while remaining sensitive to the nuances of the literary text; to be up-to-date in the exploration of contemporary culture without losing sight of a rich historical legacy that extends back to antiquity; to offer fresh looks at familiar works while remaining attuned to new voices in contemporary culture and receptive to those who have not been clearly heard in the past; and to place local concerns in global context.