UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
South Hall 2500-2700 (Faculty Offices and Research Centers)
South Hall 3400 Suite (Advising & Administrative Offices)
Telephone: (805) 893-7488
E-mail: englishinfo@english.ucsb.edu
Website: www.english.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook



What does it mean to study English literature today? Students who major in English learn to appreciate the significance of literature and associated cultural forms in relation to the world today as well as to the history of human thought. At UCSB, English majors analyze Old English texts like Beowulf or engage with the latest developments in digital literatures; they bring a play by Shakespeare to life or study graphic novels or avant-garde poetry. Our students explore language, literature, and culture as they intersect with a variety of areas: anti-racism, the climate crisis, the digital revolution, the embodied mind, the distant past and its present-day presence, performance studies, creative writing, print and material culture, critical theory, and Indigeneity. They develop media literacy and skills in textual analysis; they are encouraged to be intellectually creative and to communicate ideas effectively and elegantly. The English Department prides itself on instilling disciplined habits of mind that will serve students well in any future profession, even as it offers a deep knowledge of literary traditions and forms.

What can one do with a degree in English? Employers and professional schools seek applicants who can interpret, analyze, and communicate at a high level; these are the very skills that the English major is designed to develop. Students who study English learn how to think rigorously and creatively. They are trained to read a variety of literary and cultural works, to write proficiently, and to make lively and logical arguments. Popular career paths include law, journalism, publishing, teaching, film, advertising, and marketing, as well as creative and curatorial vocations. Advanced communications skills are also the basis for successful careers in politics, international affairs, public policy, medicine, counseling, social work, human resources, and sales and business management.

The English Department Faculty are prominent scholars at the forefront of current literary studies, scholars committed to introducing students to significant trends in contemporary research. The Department offers traditional and non-traditional courses covering a range of historical periods and a variety of national and global literatures written in English. The English Department is also home to a thriving honors program, which encourages students to undertake advanced literary research and to pursue their own interests and research agendas.

As an English major, you can choose from eight different optional specializations, focusing your studies on thematic, historical, or methodological areas. Each specialization is associated with a renowned research center. By specializing, you will become part of the center’s research community.

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.

Current and prospective English majors are urged to consult the departmental undergraduate advisor for assistance in preparing programs of study. Students may also consult the chair of the undergraduate committee and other faculty advisors about any issues related to their academic career. Students should check the English department website at www.english.ucsb.edu for up-to-date information on the department.

English majors are also encouraged to explore the opportunities for study abroad provided by the University of California’s Education Abroad Program. Students may fulfill both major requirements and electives through exchanges with universities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. At most European universities and in Israel, students may fulfill elective requirements while studying abroad. Because all courses taken through EAP are accepted as UC courses, students may spend a year of study in a foreign university with no loss of time in completing their degrees. The departmental advisor for the Education Abroad Program can assist in the choice of programs and courses that will best meet the goals of the major. Students may also take regular UCSB courses in the Travel Study Programs offered by Summer Sessions.

The Writing Program offers required and elective courses at freshman and advanced levels. Specifically, Writing 1, 2, 50, and 109AA-ZZ are offered through the Writing Program. See the Writing Program listing in this catalog for information about these courses.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in English who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible.

Special Opportunities, Programs, and Awards

Honors Program. The Honors Program in English provides the opportunity for qualified majors to undertake advanced literary research.

Students should apply to the program in the Winter of their junior year. Majors who have completed the sophomore year with a minimum GPA of 3.5 (overall and in the major) may apply for admission to the Honors Program. The English Honors Program entails two related courses (4 credits each), taken in two consecutive quarters from junior to senior year: the English Honors Seminar (198H), taken in the spring of the junior year; and the Senior Thesis (196), an independent study taken in the fall of the senior year during which the senior thesis is written. Successful completion of the honors program merits the award of Distinction in the Major at graduation. For information on application to the honors program, students should consult the English Department.

Supplemental Seminars. Students may take advantage of honors seminars that are sometimes offered in conjunction with large lecture courses. These seminars provide an opportunity for motivated students to work closely with faculty members while enriching their large lecture experience.

Research Assistant Program. By application, qualified upper-division students may gain experience in academic research, while earning academic credit, as research assistants to the English faculty.

Awards. The William Frost Award is given annually to a senior or upper-division English major and carries a substantial stipend. Entrants are judged on their academic records, as well as on a critical essay which represents the student’s best work. The Kieth E. Vineyard Honorary Scholarship is awarded annually to an undergraduate in recognition of outstanding skills in creative writing. Entry dates are announced during the winter quarter.

In recent years the department has sponsored several other awards and contests, some that recognize excellence in creative writing, both poetry and fiction, and others that honor academic excellence in combination with financial need.

English Club. The English Club, a student-organized group, arranges programs of interest for all English undergraduates throughout the academic year. The English department undergraduate listserv disseminates information for and about the English Club and other topics of interest to English majors. To subscribe to the listserv, refer to the website at: www.english.ucsb.edu.