The program is affiliated to four further Designated Emphases:
1) Designated Emphasis in African American and African Studies
The African American Studies Research Cluster engages in an exploration of the ways in which the discipline of African American Studies is central to many of the current discourses concerning globalization, contemporary American religion, politics, post-colonial theory, and literary criticism. As a group, we investigate how the African American experience has been and continues to be central to U.S. history, politics, culture, and even international relations. Our areas of study include not only the complexities of what has recently been called the “racial stalemate” in America, but also the vital contributions of African American expressive culture, including music, dance, religion, literary, and popular cultural styles. The research cluster allows faculty and graduate students to jointly develop cutting-edge research questions and inquiry into some of the most vital and vexing questions of our American history and contemporary times.
The Designated Emphasis in African American and African Studies will increase students' understanding of the breadth of past and present research in the subject areas of African American and African Studies. It will also provide the institutional means by which students and faculty already working on areas of inquiry touching upon African American and African Studies can be channeled or concentrated together for interaction and collaboration extending beyond their respective regional homes across the UC Davis campus.
2) Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory
The DE in Critical Theory at UC Davis provides doctoral students a double opportunity: to participate in interdisciplinary seminars focusing on the rich tradition of critical thought, both ancient and modern; and to add a formal credential in critical theory to their degrees. Our faculty, drawn from various affiliated programs in the humanities and social sciences, offer a wide range of expertise across multiple historical periods and theoretical approaches. Our seminars bring together students and faculty from across this broad disciplinary spectrum, providing a rare opportunity to compare perspectives, and to interrogate the fundamental axioms and principles of social, political and cultural practice.
We are united by no single set of presuppositions but, rather, by a shared commitment to close reading, rigorous thinking and the pursuit of what Marx famously calls "a ruthless critique of everything that exists." We accordingly understand critical theory not as a static canon, nor as a merely academic exercise, but as a robust, ongoing engagement with texts, institutions, the polis, and the world.
3) Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies
The Native American Studies Department at UC Davis offers a Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies (DENAS). Currently graduate students in Comparative Literature; Psychology; Spanish; Performance Studies; History; Sociology; and Anthropology can enroll in the DENAS. If you are interested in being admitted to the Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies, but your graduate program/department is not affiliated, see the DENAS Chair.
The Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies affords graduate students in affiliated programs the opportunity to supplement their Ph.D. in a given discipline with a specialization in Native American Studies. A doctoral student in good standing may seek admission to the DE in Native American Studies. Students in affiliated Ph.D. programs who complete the requirements of the DE will have this noted on their transcripts and their Ph.D. diploma will note the “Ph.D. in ____ with Emphasis in Native American Studies.”
At UC, Davis, the Native American Studies Department focuses hemispherically upon the indigenous peoples of the Americans, that is, upon the peoples, nations, tribes, and communities whose ancestors have lived in North, Central and South America from earliest times. Native American Studies is interdisciplinary in its scholarly approach to the world of American Indian peoples, offering a comprehensive and comparative perspective. This unique hemispheric approach includes attention to the increasing dislocation and diaspora of indigenous people throughout the Americas, and calls upon the authority of Native intelligence (Native voices, Native texts) in all its forms and manifestations to address the issues that concern Native peoples, including the creative strategies for continuance they have developed over the centuries.
4) Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research
The Women and Gender Studies Program at UC Davis offers a Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research. Currently graduate students in the following fourteen affiliated Ph.D. programs are eligible to participate: Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, Education, English, French, German, Geography, History, Native American Studies, Performance Studies, Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish.
The Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research affords graduate students in affiliated programs the opportunity to augment their Ph.D. in a given discipline with a specialization in Feminist Theory and Research. Typically a doctoral student in good standing may seek admission to the Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research and enroll in Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research courses. Those students in affiliated Ph.D. programs who complete the requirements of the Designated Emphasis will have this noted on their transcripts and their Ph.D. diploma will note the Ph.D. in X with Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research.
Feminist theory and research examines the complex ways in which gender always forged in relation to race, class, sexual, and national identities has organized language, identities, traditions of knowledge, methodologies, social relations, organizations, economic systems, and every facet of culture. In making gender a central category of analysis, feminist scholarship engages such questions as: the relationship between language and institutions, the nature of social power and historical agency, heteronormativity, the relationship between gender and nation, alternative sexualities, and gender and representation. Feminist scholarship tends by nature to be interdisciplinary. Indeed it is feminist scholars who laid some of the groundwork for such interdisciplinary formations as the new ethnography, new historicism, and cultural studies Feminist theory and research are among the most exciting and powerful forces in academic research and intellectual life today. Students with the D.E. demonstrate additional training that is attractive to employers inside and outside of the academy.
5) Designated Emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric and Composition
The Designated Emphasis (DE) in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies (WRaCS) offers PhD students in affiliated programs the opportunity to prepare for leadership roles in writing and rhetoric research, teaching, and program administration. Drawing on recent work in cultural studies and rhetoric, the WRaCS DE is a program where students can explore the intersections of theory and practice and consider how multimodal forms of composition (visual, audio, textual/linguistic, and gestural/bodily) are shaping performance. The study of how social, technological, and cognitive factors impact composing processes is vital for understanding how writers, designers, directors, and others work in traditional spaces as well as in emerging digital environments.
PhD graduates in affiliated programs will find that a Designated Emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies opens up positions at universities, colleges, and community colleges, research foundations, and international corporations that are looking for expertise in writing and rhetoric. This designated emphasis provides doctoral students with both theoretical and practical knowledge focused on pedagogy, program administration and research. Graduate students in this DE are encouraged to make connections between writing and performances found in diverse spaces including the stage, digital and online environments, schools, workplaces, galleries and other sites of cultural work.
The direct link to the DE website is