Professor Karen Tei Yamashita, author of the National Book Award finalist I Hotel (2010), Anime Wong: Fictions of Performance (2014), and Letters to Memory (2017).


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.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • M.A.
  • Minor
  • Ph.D.

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.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

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. Background in a foreign language is helpful. The Literature Department faculty require that all literature majors have one year of college-level proficiency in a second language.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students planning to major in literature should 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.


After graduation, students with degrees in literature typically begin careers in publishing across various media; in teaching at all levels; in public service, law, and international relations. Many also go on to graduate school. Whatever path they choose, their powers of expression and analysis are highly prized. Please visit the UCSC Career Center for career-related information associated with the literature major, including information on the following career paths:

  • Advertising
  • Civil service
  • Communications
  • Editing
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Library science
  • Literary criticism
  • Literary research
  • Professional writing
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Translation


Students who participate in a University of California Education Abroad Program (EAP) may use up to three upper-division courses from EAP toward the literature major, or up to two upper-division courses toward the literature minor. Education Abroad Programs are available in over 43 countries throughout the world. Please see for more information about the UCSC Education Abroad Program.


The Dickens Project at UCSC, founded in 1981, focuses on the study of the novels of Charles Dickens and other Victorian-era writers. During the Project's annual summer conference, The Dickens Universe, undergraduates study with Dickens scholars from around the world in a series of events that includes discussion seminars, lectures, movie screenings, and even a Victorian dance!

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Associate Professor Christine Hong (2015) and Lecturer Melissa Sanders-Self (2016) are recipients of UCSC's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Professor Kimberly Lau is the author of Erotic Infidelities: Love and Enchantment in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber (Wayne State University Press, 2014).

Associate Professor Ronaldo V. Wilson is the author of Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015).

Alumni Focus

William Finnegan (B.A., Literature, 1974) received a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for his memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (Penguin Books, 2015). He is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Alma Guadalupe López (B.A., Literature, 2001) is an English Department faculty member and Puente Club Advisor at San Bernardino Valley College.

Michael Scherer (B.A., Literature, 1998) is a national political reporter for The Washington Post; he was previously the Washington Bureau Chief at TIME.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

Department of Literature
Humanities 1, Room 303
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-4778