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Department Structure

The Department of Literature is composed of eight sections: Literatures in English, Spanish, German, French; Literatures of the World; Cultural Studies; Comparative Literature; and Writing. Each of these sections has its own set of requirements that students must fulfill to earn the degree. Each section is responsible for ensuring that courses are included in the yearly curriculum that will aid students in fulfilling these requirements.


The department is governed by a chair and vice-chair, elected by the ladder-rank faculty. They are advised and assisted in their duties by an Executive Committee of elected representatives of the ladder-rank faculty.

Faculty Advisers

The department chair appoints the faculty member who serves as the Director of Graduate Studies (PhD), MFA Program Director, and the faculty members who serve as Section Heads and Graduate Advisers for each section.

Faculty office hours are posted on this website. Faculty who are on leave are not expected to be available for advising, reading papers, supervising independent studies, or attending qualifying examinations or dissertation defenses. Likewise, during the summer faculty are not available for these activities.


Please refer to the staff directory for names and contact information.

MFA students work most closely with the MFA Graduate Coordinator and the Student Affairs Assistant.

Students may also work with the PhD Graduate Coordinator and System Administrator. 

Occasionally students work with the Management Services Officer (department manager), Financial Manager (processes reimbursement requests), or the Assistant to the Chair (arranges the Chair's schedule and compiles the departmental newsletter).

Graduate Studies Committee (GSC)

The Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) represents the concerns of the graduate students to the faculty and departmental administration and facilitates communication among all components of the program.

The GSC consists of:

  • the director of graduate studies, who chairs  the committee
  • the graduate advisers from each of the sections that have graduate course offerings;
  • the graduate student co-chairs/representatives to the Executive Committee (as elected by the previous year’s GSC members);
  • one or two graduate students from each of the graduate studies sections, elected by the student body;
  • one or two students from the MFA Program;
  • the student representatives to UCSD’s Graduate Student Association;
  • one or two graduate students who are ABD (All But Dissertation).

All members have a vote in the committee's business. The GSC is constituted annually (by election and appointment before the end of spring quarter) to take office the following September. It meets at least once each quarter during the academic year and can be called into special session by the Department Chair, by the Director of Graduate Studies, or by petition of any three faculty or graduate student members of the department. The committee:

  • Makes suggestions on seminar offerings. It takes the responsibility, when necessary, of asking the Department Chair to modify section offerings to accommodate student needs (based on a survey of student opinions).
  • Acts as an advisory body concerning all departmental policy decisions affecting graduate students.
  • Elects a representative and alternate to the executive committee. The representative initiates and participates in executive committee discussion of matters affecting graduate students.

Graduate Student Association (GSA)

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the campus-wide official graduate student organization. Functions of the GSA include allocating the graduate student activity fee, appointing graduate students to campus-wide committees, and sponsoring academic and social events. 

The GSA is governed by an internally elected executive board. Its membership includes two or more representatives from each department. Literature department representatives to the GSA are elected annually as a part of the GSC election.