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Prospective Students

Message from the Director of Undergraduate Studies
Margaret Loose


Professor Margaret Loose

Dear Prospective Student,

I want to welcome you to UCSD and the Undergraduate Program in Literature.  I came to literature later in life, after an undergraduate degree in Biology and some years working in a cardiology lab after quitting medical school.  And why did I switch paths from science to literature?  In short, because every poem, novel, short story, and play I read seemed urgently relevant to me, my questions and problems and crises as a person struggling to find myself and my place in my early 20s.  Books changed me, changed how I treated my mom, how I saw social justice issues and politics and religion, changed how I argued with people, and I liked the person I was becoming under their influence.  I liked that person so much that I quit my job and went back to school full time to study Literature.  I wanted to commit to seeing the world in this new, more nuanced, more honest, more humble, and yes, more accurate way.  I wanted to hone my ability to see a question from many angles, to have a mind large enough to take in multiple possibilities, tensions, and interpretations, so that I could engage with the world as it really is: people and politics and law and medicine are not simple formulas, one-dimensional or flat entities you can arrogantly pick up in a sound bite or a single article on your favorite web site.  Reality is complex, multi-layered, full of competing interests and legitimate possibilities, and if you lack the ability to hold all those messy facts in your hands or mind at the same time—an ability that literary studies more than any other major will give you—then you’re short-changing yourself and everyone around you.  You’re not actually dealing with reality, as it fundamentally is.  The habits of mind that literary studies instill in you are precisely the habits of mind that make you grasp the world as it truly is, not as some simplistic cartoon that others might have you believe it is.

The Department of Literature is a place where the study of history and culture takes place through our analytical and creative engagement with various kinds of texts, i.e., literature (poetry, fiction, drama), literary theories and philosophy, films and other visual and multimedia productions (TV dramas, musical videos, graffiti, photography among others).   We offer a wide range of courses that you can tailor into the right clusters for you, such as

• Language Studies (e.g. American Sign Language, Ancient Greek, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Latin, Russian, Spanish)
• Literary Studies (e.g. "Vampires in Literature," "Kafka," Asian American literature, South Asian Literatures in English)
• Film Studies (e.g. "Akira Kurosawa," Italian Cinema, "Woody Allen from Manhattan to Paris," "New European Cinema")
• Cultural Studies and Popular Culture Studies (e.g. "Urban Scenes in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan," "Reading American Television," "Bob Dylan," "Queer Subcultures")
• Creative Writing (in English and Spanish)
• Translation Studies (See Alchemy: Journal of Translation)
• National Histories and Cultures (e.g. The Harlem Renaissance, Philippine Literature, Russian-American Fiction, British Poetry)
• "Transnational/Trans-regional/Trans-continental Histories and Culture Studies and Globalization Studies (e.g. "South Asian Traditions: Buddhism and Hinduism," European Modernism, Modern African Film and Literature, Latino/a American Studies and Latin American Literatures Major, Globalization and Culture, "Health, Global Warming and Public Education")

We ground our educational program in historical knowledge, in the diverse cultures and cultural productions of the world and in our faculty’s concrete expertise on the fast changing globe. What does it mean to be a CRITICAL global citizen of the 21st Century for you?

All of our majors teach foundational skills, i.e., critical reading, thinking and writing. Critical thinking can be best acquired, we believe, by learning to "close read" texts, by developing your ideas through moderated discussion of texts with your peers, and by learning to think through writing.   These critical reading, writing, and thinking skills perform foundational roles for a wide range of careers, from creative writing to law, business to medical humanities to public relations, from politics to education, translating to publishing and editing. These are the most general ideas, and we can help you dig in to find out the details on them and many more. Also check out our link to Careers in Literature.  Whatever you do, enjoy your education and trust yourself and your creativity to make it a foundation for your future life.

During our office hours, you can visit any faculty members whose courses you are interested in taking, or visit me (Margaret Loose, Director of Undergraduate Studies) or our Undergraduate Advisor Danny Panella. Bring us your concerns and questions, your curiosities and interests. We are here to listen to you and to help you imagine, create, plan and execute the most rewarding and fun educational experience at UC, San Diego for yourself.

You can also subscribe yourself to the litnotices-l mailing list, where you will receive notices on lectures and events including those that are directly relevant to the undergraduate program.

On behalf of all of us, welcome to Literature!



Application & Supplemental Literature Portfolio


For Freshman applicants, a completed UC Application is required to be considered for admission. Please contact the UCSD Admissions Office for more information about the UC Application.  Those who have completed the UC Application and are interested in pursuing a Literature major may submit an optional portfolio to enhance their overall application.  Students who select one of the Literature majors when applying to UC San Diego will receive a notice through the UC Application site with information regarding the portfolio and link for submission. Please note, you can prepare portions of your optional portfolio in advance, but you will not be able to submit it until your UC Application has been completed.  This portfolio is optional, and students can still be admitted to our majors without submitting the material.  More information and a link to Frequently Asked Question can be found at: http://artsandhumanities.ucsd.edu/resources/prospective-students/index.html.

The supplemental Literature portfolio consists of two short answers and a writing sample:
  • For students applying to the Literature/Writing major, the writing sample should be a piece of original writings (fiction, non-fiction, essay, play, screenplay, poetry, comics or cross-genre experimental writing).  It can be a well-chosen excerpt from a longer work, but it cannot exceed 1000 words.
  • For students applying to all other Literature majors, the writing sample should be your writing about literature (such as an analysis of a poem, play, novel or short story).  It can be a well-chosen excerpt from a longer work, but it cannot exceed 1000 words.

For Transfer applicants, only the UC Application is collected.  Transfer applicants do not submit portfolios.  Those interested in transferring to UCSD should contact the UCSD Admissions Office for more information about the application process and preliminary evaluation of your transfer credits. The Literature Department Undergraduate Advisor would also be glad to meet with you to discuss the Literature majors and department requirements. Students can reach the Undergraduate Advisor at litprospective@ucsd.edu.

Composite Literature

The composite major in literature permits a student to develop a solid foundation in two literatures while remaining within one department. Because the UCSD Literature Department houses literatures that are divided among different departments at most universities, our composite major allows students to coordinate their studies with a single, closely-knit group of faculty, and to arrange their program without repeating two different sets of major requirements. (For example, since a composite major necessarily combines literatures written in two different languages, it automatically fulfills the foreign language requirement for the literature major.

You can view the official major requirements for Composite Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Composite Literature major page.

Literature/Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies at UCSD offers courses on topics such as affection and memory, critical theory, diaspora, empire, gender and queer discourse, film and multimedia, migrant subjects, postcolonial studies, religion and spirituality, science and technological imagination, Trans-Asian popular culture, visuality and identity, among others. Our faculty work together across cultures and disciplines. We link cultural theory to everyday practices, looking upon culture as a site of active engagement among structures of knowledge, power, and representation. Through taking seminars, students are to familiarize themselves with research methods and matters as advocated by thinkers ranging from Adorno to Zizek. They have plentiful choice in designing their concentrations and minor fields, in forging intellectual depth and in developing versatile, analytical skills.

You can view the official major requirements for Literature/Cultural Studies in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Literature/Cultural Studies major page.

Literatures in English

To study Literatures in English at UCSD is to become acquainted with the wide range of Anglophone writing both here at home and in the rest of the world. Our major gives students the opportunity to read English-language literature written by writers located in the United States, the British Isles, and many other locations worldwide, such as India, South Africa, and the Caribbean. We offer courses on a wide and varied range of topics, including the British novel, African-American Prose, Contemporary Caribbean Literature, the American Renaissance, Chaucer, Chicano Literature, New American Poetry, Asian American Literature, Victorian Poetry, Animals in Literature, Literature of the U.S. West, Science Fiction, and many more. The LTEN major introduces you to the history of literature and writing, acquaints you with a variety of historical periods and geographical and cultural regions of English language and writing, creates an awareness of methods and theories of literary and cultural analysis, and provides continued training in critical writing.

You can view the official major requirements for Literatures in English in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Literatures in English major page.

French Literature

The Literatures in French Major has the following requirements: 

  1. Nine upper-division courses as follows:
    • LTFR 115-116, Themes in French Intellectual and Literary History.
    • Seven additional upper-division courses in French literature, including at least one course in each of the following periods: seventeenth or eighteenth century; nineteenth century; and twentieth century.
  2. Three courses in a secondary literature, that is, a literature taught in a language other than French. At least one of these courses must be upper division.
  3. Upper-division electives chosen from Department of Literature offerings to make a total of twelve upper-division courses.
You can view the official major requirements for French Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' French Literature major page.

German Literature

There are more native speakers of German than any other language in the European Union. Germany also has the strongest economy in the European Union and plays a central role in European and global politics. The German-speaking lands of Central Europe have a rich cultural legacy that includes such giants as Goethe, Kafka, Nietzsche, and Beethoven, while today’s reunified Germany has become a vibrant center for the production of new literature, film, and the visual arts. Whether you dabble with the language, dip into the literature, or devote a lifetime to its study, German at UCSD has much to offer.

You can view the official major requirements for German Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' German Literature major page.

Italian Literature

The Literatures in Italian Major has the following requirements:

  1. Nine upper-division courses in Italian literature as follows:
    • LTIT 100, Introduction to Italian Literature
    • LTIT 115, Medieval Studies
    • LTIT 161, Advanced Stylistics and Conversation
    • One course in Italian North American Culture
    • Five additional upper-division courses in Italian literature taught in Italian
  2. Three courses in a secondary literature, that is, a literature taught in a language other than Italian. At least one of these courses must be upper division.
  3. Upper-division electives chosen from Department of Literature offerings to make a total of twelve upper-division courses.
You can view the official major requirements for Italian Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Italian Literature major page.

Russian Literature

Literatures in Russian majors will take 3 language courses (LTRU 104 A, B, and C), and the three courses that constitute the Russian literature series (LTRU 110 A, which covers the first part of the 19th Century, B, which covers the second half of the 19th Century through the Bolshevik Revolution, and C, which covers literature from 1917 to the present). In addition to these six required courses, majors will choose from a selection of upper division LTRU (Russian Literature) courses. These include courses devoted a single author (such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, or Nabokov), courses in Russian cinema, and thematic courses such as Russian Jewish Literature. If a course contains adequate Russian or East European content, but is not listed under LTRU, it is possible to petition to count this course toward the major. It is also possible to set up a directed reading with a faculty member in an area of Russian literature of your choice. We urge Russian majors to see one-on-one courses with a professor as an opportunity to work on an author of your choice in the original language. Each Russian major will also take a minimum of three literature courses outside the Russian section.

Russian majors may also count courses they have taken abroad toward the Russian major, and you are encouraged to spend part of your time as an undergraduate in Russia, Eastern Europe, or Eurasia. It is a good idea, before leaving for Russia, to meet with a Russian literature advisor, as well as a Literature Department staff member, to be sure that your credits will be automatically transferred.

We encourage Russian Literature Majors to become engaged in the large Russian community of San Diego by attending events on and off campus, and volunteering their time through academic internships. The Russian culture club, "Cactus" holds regular concerts and talks on the UCSD campus, which are open to the public. For more information about local events, please see the UCSD Russian and Soviet Studies Program page.

You can view the official major requirements for Russian Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Russian Literature major page.

Spanish Literature

Students majoring in Spanish can choose to concentrate on either Spanish or Latin American literature. All students, however, are encouraged to take courses in the various national literatures as well as in Chicano literature for a broad background in Spanish language literatures.

You can view the official major requirements for Spanish Literature in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Spanish Literature major page.

U.S. Latino/a & Latin American Literatures

The Department offers a bilingual major that allows students to do half their coursework in English and half in Spanish: the U.S. Latino/a and Latin American Literatures major.  Requirements:

  1. Two lower-division courses:
    • LTSP 50B. Latin American Literature or LTSP 50C. Latin American Literature
    • LTEN 29 or TWS 22
  2. Five upper-division courses from Latin American literature offerings taught in Spanish. At least one of these courses must deal with literature written before 1900.
  3. Five upper-division courses dealing with Latino/a- Chicano/a cultural production; these Literature courses may be Literatures in English courses, Literature of the Americas courses, or Cultural Studies courses, all taught in English.
  4. Two additional upper-division courses from the Department of Literature for a total of twelve upper-division courses. Students may petition to have up to two relevant courses from other departments or programs count towards this requirement.
You can view the official major requirements for U.S. Latino/a & Latin American Literatures in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' U.S. Latino/a & Latin American Literatures major page.

Literatures of the World

The Literatures of the World major offers students an opportunity to design a more flexible and individualized program, allowing them to combine their interests in regional literatures (for example, Europe, the Americas, East Asia, Africa, Near East) or national literatures (for example, Chinese, French, Russian, Filipino, German, Italian) with more topical studies (for example, genre, period, gender, ethnic literature, literature and the visual arts, cultural studies, writing, Third World studies). The World Literature major provides students with solid expertise in a single regional or national culture, while allowing them to explore beyond it comparatively and critically. In a rapidly globalizing world where we are increasingly crossing national, cultural and linguistic boundaries, the Literatures of the World major is a good place to start for those who would like to feel more at home in the world at large.

You can view the official major requirements for Literatures of the World in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Literatures of the World major page.

Literature/Writing

When Professor Rae Armantrout (recipient of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry) asked a former student about her time at UCSD this is what she had to say"

"The thing I love about UCSD's literature/writing major is that the program gives you a lot of space to figure out your interests. There are so many genres available for you to explore. You can take a class in experiemental cross genre work or science fiction and fantasy. You can write epic poems. You can do whatever you need to do to grow as a writer.  The program is also situated within a larger literature department, so there's an understanding of the connection between reading deeply and writing deeply and you have access to all these amazing literature classes while you're taking writing workshops. For instance, I was able to take a world mythology class which gave me a deeper understanding of the archetypes I was using in my poems when I made mythological references. Also, the teachers are working writers passionate about their craft and that shows in the way they teach. I really enjoyed my time in the program."

-Keely Hyslop
BA in Literature/Writing, UCSD, 2006

Keely's book manuscript "Things I Say to Pirates on Nights when I miss you" was recently chosen by the SFSU's Michael Rubin Book Award and will be published this October.

You can view the official major requirements for Literature/Writing in the UCSD General Catalog. We also have more detailed information on our current students' Literature/Writing major page.

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