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Undergraduate Program

LTWR Mission

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:

  • Cultural Studies and Diversity Studies: Cultural studies and diversity studies are central to our community. These two interdisciplinary approaches to the study of texts include consideration of perspectives such as gender, class, sexuality, disability, nationalism, ethnicity, and race. Cultural studies and diversity studies are fundamental to literary and writing studies and provide intellectual tools that enrich our analysis of texts within and across cultures.
  • Canon Formation: Cultures, local and international, contemporary and historical, create canons. Canons are a significant result of each culture's literary community. Therefore, comprehending canons, canon formation, and non-canonical texts is essential to understanding and contributing to literary and writing traditions.
  • Theory and History: Theory and history serve as tools to help us explore and demonstrate our understanding of texts within and across cultures. A range of theoretical approaches and historical knowledge provide us with necessary thinking tools.
  • Reading: Meaningful analysis requires careful reading. Engaging in close reading makes it possible to take account of rhetorical, prosodic, and other formal features. It also provides a careful grounding in the ideological, cultural, and institutional contexts in which meaning is produced and enriches our understanding of texts and the cultures from which they come.
  • Writing: Creating and presenting texts and related media in a variety of genres enriches our understanding of the constructed nature of literary materials. The ability to produce clear and compelling communication in writing is fundamental to literary and writing studies.
  • Translations and Changing Meanings: Understanding that the translation of texts across languages changes the meanings of these texts is crucial to interpretive skill-building. A reading knowledge of at least one language other than English is desirable for an advanced understanding of literature and writing in a global context.

About the Major

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.

Programs Offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Writing Studies
  • Minor in Literature and Writing Studies
  • Master of Arts in Literature and Writing Studies

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:

  1. Create clear and compelling communication in writing, speech, and other media;
  2. Closely analyze texts, applying critical and theoretical approaches;
  3. Identify and describe literary canons and alternative traditions and the process of their formation; and
  4. Distinguish the local and global contexts of multicultural and international texts and apply those contexts in textual analysis, utilizing relevant theoretical frameworks.

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.

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Writing Studies:

  1. Courses taken to satisfy General Education requirements may not be used to satisfy the requirements in the major.
  2. Credit/No Credit grading may be counted toward the major only for LTWR 495 and 499.
  3. Elective units in literature and writing studies may be used toward a minor in another discipline.  Consult the appropriate program coordinator or faculty advisor for further information.
  4. Course substitutions must be approved by petition to the Department Chair.
  5. All courses taken for the major must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
  6. All five-hundred level courses have the prerequisite of either LTWR 300A or LTWR 300B.

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