Goals & Learning Outcomes

While specific learning objectives are developed in accord with the department’s specific fields of study (the three major concentrations, the California Cultural Studies program, the two tracks of the department’s graduate studies program), the department concurs upon a generalized cluster of of learning goals it sees as fundamental for undergraduate and graduate students alike. These department-wide learning goals include the following:


  • The ability to read texts closely and to articulate the value of close reading in the study of literature and rhetoric.
  • The ability to explicate texts written in a wide variety of forms, styles, structures, and modes.
  • The ability to recognize and appreciate the importance of major literary genres, subgenres, and periods.
  • The ability to respond imaginatively to the content and style of texts.
  • The ability to write clearly, effectively, and imaginatively, and to accommodate writing style to the content and nature of the subject.
  • The ability to develop and carry out research projects and to articulate them within appropriate conceptual and methodological frameworks.


  • An understanding of the historical development of the English language and of literature written in English from Old English to the present.
  • An understanding of the relations between culture, history, and texts.
  • An understanding of the twofold nature of textual analysis:
    1. objective study from varied analytical perspectives
    2. subjective experience of the text’s aesthetic.
  • Familiarity with a wide range of British and American literary works, as well as with selected authors and works of other literatures, including folk and popular forms.
  • Familiarity with a wide range of literary terms and categories within literary history, theory, and criticism.
  • Familiarity with the nature of literary canons and of canon-formation.
  • Familiarity with basic practices of literary research and documentation, including electronic forms of information retrieval and communication.


  • The exchange of ideas with faculty and students in classroom settings and office visits.
  • The ability to complete cooperative projects with other students in discussion groups, writing activities, and study sessions.
  • Involvement in the cultural life of the University.


  • A sustained interest in language and literature.
  • An awareness of the literary past.
  • An enriched understanding of the complexities and nuances of the human experience across time and culture.
  • Interest and involvement in intellectual, aesthetic, cultural, and sociopolitical issues.
  • Increased critical awareness and intellectual independence.