The Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh

Our department has a long history of innovation in English studies. Our PhD program in Cultural and Critical Studies was among the first to recognize the changing demands of new knowledge and practices in the discipline. Our participation in the CID builds on this tradition by assessing the success of past programmatic changes, examining how knowledge is created and shared among our students and faculty, and generating programmatic guidelines that can advance English studies.

Cathedral of Learning
Cathedral of Learning

Who are we?

English department, University of Pittsburgh, Partner department

Contact person: Eric Clarke, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, 412.624.2976,

CID Leadership Team:, David Bartholomae (department Chair), Don Bialostosky, Paul Bove, Stephen Carr, Eric Clarke, Lucy Fischer, Catherine Johnson, Ronald A. T. Judy, Valerie Krips, Marcia Landy, Adam Lowenstein, Richard Purcell, Jim Seitz, John Twyning, Stefan Wheelock

Pitt English Home Page
This is a link to the department's website.

PhD Program in Cultural and Critical Studies
This is a link to the PhD program website.

What do we want to accomplish in the CID?

By working with the CID, we hope not only to build on our own experience with innovation in English studies, but also to extend this experience into a wider discussion with others in our profession. We are especially interested in assessing the current state and future of "cultural and critical studies," improving the environment for intellectual exchange among faculty and graduate students in our department, and reforming the steps our students take toward writing the dissertation, particularly in relation to the "comprehensive examination."

Richard Purcell and Eric Clarke at the 2003 CID convening
Richard Purcell and Eric Clarke at the 2003 CID convening

How do we represent ourselves to ourselves and to others?

Our participation with the CID builds on our department's history of self-scrutiny, in relation both to our own work and to that of English studies more generally. The documents available below describe the fundamental intellectual orientations of our department, the nature of our CID deliberations, and the structural and intellectual elements of our PhD program.

Key Ideas PowerPoint
This document presents some of the key ideas that have informed our department's CID deliberations.

PhD Program PowerPoint
This document presents the key features of our PhD program.

Exemplary Element: Structural & Curricular Innovations
This is a link to a snapshot describing our previous revisions to the structure and core curriculum of the PhD program.

What are we doing?

Faculty Seminars. This is a series of seminars designed to encourage intellectual exchange between faculty and graduate students, These semianrs are also opportunities for us to assess more fully the kinds of intellectual work carried out in our department. These seminars were organized by the three main departmental programs that together form the PhD program: Literature (including Children's Literature); Film Studies; and Composition and Rhetoric . These seminars were held throughout the 2004-05 academic year.

PhD Project. This is our version of the comprehensive examination, and we have been discussing ways tio improve this exam for over two years. These changes to the Project first emerged as recommendations from the 2003 CID convening, and reflect discussions in the Leadership Team and the department. They are more fully discussed and documented on the our Innovation page.

Faculty Seminar Report
This document is an abbreviated version of a CID subcommittee report outlining our plans for a regular Faculty Seminar.

PhD Project Recommendations
This document outlines proposed changes to our PhD Project that emerged out of the 2003 CID convening.


AY 2004-05. During the academic year we initiated a series of three Faculty Seminars. These seminars are designed to highlight the intellectual work of the department, in terms of both individual faculty research and faculty-graduate student work. They are also desinged to present the department with as clear a picture as possible of what kinds of intellectual work we do so that we are as fully informed as possible before initiating any changes. The department will be supplied with data detailing PhD Project committees, dissertation committees, dissertation titles, and placement of students over the past 12 years.

Fall 2004. By the end of the fall term we organized a department-wide colloquium on our current PhD Project regulations and the proposed revisions that emerged from the CID convening. We also had the first of our Faculty Seminars.

Spring 2005. In March 2005 the department approved a set of changes to the PhD Project. We also held the final two Faculty Seminars.

Fall 2005. Initiate changes to the PhD Project regulations.

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