The Literature and Writing Studies Department is a scholarly community of students and faculty committed to innovative teaching and learning. Critical reading, writing, and thinking occur in and serve a range of communities: local, regional, global, and historical. Therefore, we value the following principles:
The Literature and Writing Studies Department values the close relationship between
literature, reading, and writing and requires majors to take courses that specialize
both in literature and in writing. Three- and four-hundred level courses may be taken
with junior standing, or with consent of the instructor. We encourage students to
take LTWR 307 and/or LTWR 325 as soon as possible, preferably in the semester they
begin work on their major. Five-hundred level courses may be taken by advanced undergraduates
meeting the necessary pre-requisites as well as graduate students.
In keeping with the multicultural and interdisciplinary philosophy of Cal State San Marcos' Mission Statement, the LTWR major provides students with a global literary experience, which may be best described under the general rubric of "cultural studies." In its broadest sense, this term implies that literature and other cultural artifacts are studied as reflections and expressions of the cultures that value them. Studied in this context, literature is viewed not only in terms of its form and style, its relation to previous traditions and genres, its rhetoric and language, but in terms of its use in constructing social and cultural identities. Cultural studies may involve comparative approaches between "high" and "low" forms of expression; it may concern itself with new kinds of media (film, video, computers); it usually involves issues of social status, gender, ethnicity, and national demographics; it often examines relationships between various kinds of cultural documents (historical records, archives, newspapers, novels).
From a pedagogical point of view, cultural studies stresses cross-cultural contexts of a given literature, exploring not only the dominant literary tradition of a culture, but also the indigenous, marginalized or unrecognized literatures within that tradition. These "literatures" take multiple forms: oral tale, comic book, folk narrative, national epic, or avant garde poem.
The LTWR major also provides directed experience in writing expository prose, fiction, poetry for various media or professional audiences, as well as intensive work in practical criticism and rhetorical theory. An integral feature of the program is to place emphasis on student interaction through peer-groups. Students who are developing themselves as writers will regularly find courses offered in various genres to develop their own style and breadth of experience in composition and criticism. Those interested in the teaching of writing will find the major a context both for writing extensively and for dealing critically with the act of written composition.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students in the Department of Literature and Writing Studies develop critical reading and writing skills and learn to recognize that effective thinking and writing about texts must be informed by knowledge about relevant local, global, and disciplinary contexts. We have designed our departmental curriculum to help students develop and demonstrate the following abilities:
We recognize that a good reading knowledge of at least one language other than English
is necessary for an advanced understanding of literature and writing, especially since
the translation of texts from other languages changes their meaning.
Assessment of these learning outcomes occurs in a variety of ways: students are asked in our classes to complete many different kinds of writing assignments, including short essay exams, in-class responses, reading journals, research papers, thesis-driven essays, oral reports, and collaborative writing projects.