Carnegie Mellon's program in Literary and Cultural Studies is distinguished by its energetic commitment to theoretical approaches linking cultural artifacts to the historical and social contexts in which they are produced and consumed.
The size of the program (we admit several Ph.D. candidates a year) assures that students have full access to the faculty and can work with individual members in a collegial environment of shared inquiry. The intellectual diversity of the Carnegie Mellon English Department, moreover, allows for Ph.D. candidates to take advantage of the expertise of other programs, in particular the Graduate Program in Rhetoric and the teaching resources of Professional Writing.
Inquiry in the department clusters around a set of core concerns which faculty members share, for example:
•What is the relationship between important social categories such as class, race, nationality or sexuality and imaginative works that represent these categories in explicit or displaced forms?
•How do emergent or historically marginalized literatures help us to think about the limits of modernity, group identity, and national consciousness as objects of literary and cultural analysis?
•What are the historical and generic outlines of "mass culture" and how do those outlines suggest new ways of thinking about individual subjectivity and collective experience?
•How have recent changes in intellectual, cultural and social history altered our treatment of "social context" in relationship to individual works or artifacts?
Students in the program are also part of a large research university with longstanding strengths in the performing arts, new media and information technology. Within this context, some of the most pressing questions in the profession today (How are particular cultures organized around particular media or textual forms? To what extent are modernity and post-modernity defined by a particular view of knowledge, the individual and technology?) can be raised in startlingly concrete ways. The university is also host to the Center for the Arts and Society and the Center for Cultural Analysis, both of which attract distinguished scholars and lecturers on a regular basis.
The city of Pittsburgh, once the home of the nation's largest industrial production base, is also attractive to our students because of its remarkable working-class history and affordable cost of living. A number of cultural institutions within the city—such as the Warhol museum, the Mattress Factory, the City and Quantum Theatres, and the Ground Zero collective—offer opportunities for engagement with a vibrant urban community. Strong university links to local community groups through the Center for University Outreach also make Carnegie Mellon a productive place to think and act on important political and social issues.