The UC Davis English Department is located in Voorhies Hall. Their major program consists of three different emphases: a General Emphasis, a Teaching Emphasis, and a Creative Writing emphasis.

If you have interest in pursuing a major in English, then check out the Undergraduate Program requirements (or check the General Catalog). For a full list of courses in the department, please consult the General Catalog.

Some people think that "English is the best major at Davis". Some people think it will leave you unable to get a job. Regardless of your opinion, it is nice to have some pretty words in your life.

Yiyun Li, a member of the Department since 2008, was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2010.


Staff Advisor: Lynda Jones Office Hours: M-F 8-12, 1-5 Office: Voorhies 177 Email:

Peer Advisor: TBA Office Hours: TBA Office: Voorhies 112 Email: TBA


Courses are divided between the English Department's literature and creative writing classes, for those interested in literature, and the composition courses that are taught as part of the University Writing Program which states on its official website that "under the guidance of the Undergraduate Council of the U.C. Davis Academic Senate, the Writing Program has become an independent entity, separate from the English Department," but I believe most of the writing instructors are also part of the English department, though perhaps not all are.

English 180 (Children's Literature)

  • usually a very popular class with non-majors, typical course reading lists will include books from fairy tales to Little Women to Harry Potter
  • I took this class with Prof. Stenzel and would not recommend it. The course in general was unfocused, and Stenzel tries to fit too many texts into one quarter. Sometimes we would discuss a work for only half a class session or sometimes not at all. If you take this course, I would avoid Stenzel.- EyadDarras

English 101 (part of the Writing Program)

  • I took it with Kerry Hanlon. When I took the course it focused on creative writing assignments. Our homework consisted of reading essays (taken from magazines like the New Yorker) and then answering questions on them. Our assigned essays were to be modeled directly after one of the essay's styles. The essays we read were all gimmicky and focused on small stuff (but very well written and enjoyable to read) — the kind of things you'd expect to read in a popular magazine. Most unfortunately, the classroom I was in had laptops in it (which was surely seen as a positive, but I felt it was a distraction). Additionally, I did not like the format my professor chose to take with the class. Our entire class discussion focused on answering the questions we were assigned for homework — questions we had already answered at home. The discussions were not enlightening or meaningful, in my opinion. There was also forced participation (10% of the grade) during class which I found to be childish and also, well, degrading to my course grade as I am very shy in class — especially when repeating material we had all already answered at home.
  • I had very high hopes for this course. As a Mathematics major I do not often get the opportunity to express myself creatively in essay form. Unfortunately, I did not find the course to be stimulating. I would recommend you take the competency test unless you can nab an awesome professor who will challenge you. —PhilipNeustrom
  • The composition courses are geared more towards making sure students grasp the mechanics of good writing, and while they do try to be as engaging and creative as possible, creative expression is not the main goal of the composition classes. I would suggest the actual Creative Writing courses in Fiction, Poetry, and Drama from the English department. —IrenePark
  • It also depends on the instructor. I took this course circa 2001 and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, I am completely blanking on the instructor's name right now, but she was not only engaging, but an effective teacher. She also seemed to really care about us developing our writing style and finding our own voice. We had a variety of writing assignments and she provided us with plenty of support and constructive feedback. She didn't just give you a grade; she included plenty of specific comments. The best part was that it was a tiny class. I enjoyed it so much that I got hooked. It was the impetus that I needed to double major and pursue an English degree. I think this department is one of the best kept secrets at UC Davis. I don't know whether people are aware of this wonderful program. And, also keep in mind: English professors often are the ones who write the best letters of recommendation. This is something to consider if you are applying to a graduate or professional program. Admissions committees want to know that their students write clearly and effectively. — Curlygirl26

Recommended Teachers

  • Joshua Clover: An Associate professor without a PhD, Clover writes for various magazines, mostly music, under a pseudonym while often teaching classes that involve poetry. He's the author of several poems published in the Best American Poetry collection, as well as a book entitled The Matrix, which analyzes the film as an allegory for turn-of-the-millennium American life and labor. Clover is an incredibly challenging professor, but it's definitely worth it to take his classes if you're genuinely interested in expanding your knowledge in English and poetry.
  • Elizabeth Freeman: Insanely intelligent and eloquent with her speech, Freeman is most notable for her inventive teaching methods, which really drill lessons into students' heads. A great distinguishing characteristic is that Freeman is a techie—she knows how to use her computer, unlike most English profs, and she incorporates her skill into teaching. She offers really clear and detailed lecture slides and even sets up a "Jeopardy" game for a final review session.
  • Jack Hicks: A sophisticated and hilarious man, Hicks, too, has had a working history with publications including TV Guide and Rolling Stone. He often teaches ENL 182 - California Literature. Unlike Clover, Hicks is a pretty laid-back man who realizes college is just something you have to put up with to get somewhere in life, so he isn't too hard on grading.
  • David Van Leer: looking just a tad bit like the comedic writer Bruce Vilanch (and just as funny and gay), Van Leer has a wide array of talents and interests, ranging from early American literature (read: Puritan lit) to alt. sexualities in film. His film studies class (if it's available) has one of the best selection of obscure, independent films ever; and only in his early American literature class will you realize that even in a truly Puritan environment, you really can't wipe out individuality and non-conventional sexualities. David (never Professor Van Leer) left UCDavis after fall quarter 2009.
  • Karl Zender (Retired): If you're into Faulkner, take his 177 course. This man knows more about Faulkner than I ever thought possible. He is sweet and personable and a fair grader and knows so much about Faulkner that even if you don't read a single page of the novels assigned (which you should!), you will come away feeling that you have learned something.

Teachers to Avoid

  • Lucy Corin: For literature & Short-Story classes: lessons usually unorganized; grading generally arbitrary; very difficult to come out of the class being sure one has learned a thing. Next: ENL 100F (creative writing) is a class that you must petition to join by including a portfolio of your writing. This class is cherished by many English majors, begging the questions why a number of students (including wiki users) have dropped the class after a few weeks when taught by Lucy Corin. Rumor has it one girl left crying. It should be noted that Lucy Corin is a very smart and friendly person. She will likely be an incredible teacher in a few years, once she's gotten a grasp of her clearly-difficult job. For now, it's a good idea to avoid. In the future, I recommend checking the various professor rating sites to see if things have improved. Lucy Corin's 2021 book "The Swank Hotel" appropriates the life of her mentally ill sisters Emily Hochman without giving her credits. More details are here: I heard that an internal UC Davis investigation was initiated. 
  • Lucy Corin's 2021 book "The Swank Hotel" (on Graywolf Press) appropriates the life of her mentally ill sisters Emily Hochman without giving her credits. More details here: and here. I heard that an internal UC Davis investigation was initiated. 

Rumor control: the girl left crying due to another student; Lucy was not the cause. Also, I've taken 100F with Lucy twice and highly enjoyed it both quarters.

  • Waddington: Now retired, but forever infamous for student hating. The man would get distracted and or irritated extremely easily by students, and would stop his lecture to glare at them silently with wrathful vengeance. If a student came in late, or a cell phone went off, or a student was laughing because he looks like an old rabbit (good thing he didn't see my doodling), he would throw a fit, shake all over and stare at them with desperate hatred. On second thought, I liked him. I just didn't like his grading scale.

Senate Faculty