New Name for Revised Literature Major

A new crop of students will be admitted to UCSB’s College of Creative Studies (CCS) under the Literature major that was frozen this time last year. The name of the major was changed to “Writing & Literature” in fall 2016, making it possibly the only suspended program that has ever been restored at UCSB.

Last year, to the dismay of alumni and some faculty, new admissions were suspended after an unforgiving review of the program determined that the Lit major was out of sync with associated departments. Often described as graduate school for undergraduates, the CCS major historically allowed its 100 or so students to navigate their way through curriculum and choose which courses to take in associated departments — such as English — in the College of Letters & Science. In CCS’s nonpunitive grading system, students could fully immerse themselves in a particular course and withdraw from others.

“The curriculum itself was not requiring a robust exposure to all of the offerings across campus,” said Gerardo Aldana, associate dean of the College of Creative Studies and a professor of Anthropology and Chicano Studies. “One of the things we want to ensure is that students were getting a much broader education,” he said of the revised major. Among many things, Writing & Literature students will be required to create a senior portfolio and explore creative writing, literary study, and writing studies. About 15 new students will be admitted each year — eventually totaling 60 — that will allow for greater advising relationships, Aldana said.

Last fall, alumni and faculty cried foul over the suspension and expressed fear that the program — established in 1967 by fiction writer Marvin Mudrick — would eventually cease to exist. Earlier this quarter, the undergraduate council lifted the hold on the program, and this week the Faculty Legislature approved the name change. Aldana said they sought to ensure there was broad support for the revision across campus, and they contacted many faculties in different majors. “I think it’s a really good thing,” he added.

The major is also in the process of hiring a program coordinator, who would serve as a liaison between faculty in Letters & Science, CCS, and students.

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