Doctoral students in composition at Pitt work in a unique institutional and intellectual context—the Ph.D. program in Critical and Cultural Studies. One of the earliest graduate programs to re-conceptualize doctoral study in English, it has included composition from its inception. Pitt’s doctoral program has long considered its students to be intellectuals who can define their own projects across established academic boundaries, teach their own courses in an articulate and critical community of teachers, and participate and vote in open departmental deliberations.
Pitt’s doctoral students in composition create distinctive projects that link problems of reading, writing, and teaching to current institutions, disciplines, media, and debates in English studies. Their dissertations have investigated literate practices in relation to social movements and political debates from evangelical Protestantism to modernism, feminism, the student movements of the 1960’s and the avant-grade. They have examined how new readers and writers are disciplined into literate practices and critiqued narratives of teaching that marginalize or misperceive students. Frequently their projects have arisen out of and returned to practices in the classroom and attention to various forms and contexts of student writing. Pitt’s composition PhDs consistently find tenure-track positions in English departments across the country and build satisfying careers contributing to their fields.