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Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

One of the most dramatic changes that has occurred in English departments over the past twenty years has been the increased emphasis on "theory." Professors and students of literature have taken up questions which might formerly have been associated with such disciplines as Linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, or Economics. The works of such authors as Hegel, Marx, Saussure, Freud, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Fanon, Foucault, and Derrida have come to be part of the English curriculum. This expansion and transformation of what it means to study English have created controversy from the start, and the merits and limitations of theoretical work continue to be hotly debated at Penn as elsewhere. If you are intrigued and excited by these concerns, or if you are thinking about going on to do graduate work in English, you should consider the concentration in Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.