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Literary, Cultural Studies Grads Pursue Varied Career Paths

The Literary and Cultural Studies master's degree program will host a professional development conference called "Cultural Studies Works" May 11-13.
There is life after earning a Literary and Cultural Studies degree from Carnegie Mellon, and it doesn't have to entail a Ph.D.

To highlight the varied career paths — both in and out of academia — the English Department's Master of Arts in Literary and Cultural Studies (LCS) program is putting on a conference, "Cultural Studies Works," May 11-13. The event will feature academic and professional lectures, workshops and panels by alumni and faculty.

LCS is a rigorous, nine-month master's program that focuses on literary theory and cultural criticism. About 18 students enter the program each year, many of them Carnegie Mellon graduates. The program is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

"For a lot of undergraduates, it's like a fifth year at Carnegie Mellon," said Kathy Newman, associate professor of English and director of the LCS program.

Although a majority of LCS graduates do go on to pursue doctoral degrees, many use their master's degree as a springboard for careers in publishing, K-12 education and nonprofit work, to name a few.

Eric Zinner, who earned his master's in 1992, is now the editorial director of the New York University Press. He pursued a career in publishing after an internship at Tikkun magazine in San Francisco the summer before he completed his degree.

"It showed me that there was life outside of academia, that maybe going to an office everyday was good for me," said Zinner, who holds a bachelor's degree in history from Carnegie Mellon.

Zinner will give the conference's keynote address at 4 p.m., May 11 in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Auditorium in Baker Hall. He said the LCS program gave him a strong intellectual foundation, including critical thinking skills that he often sees lacking in job candidates he interviews.

"It was just a very productive, intellectual place to be. There was a sense that a master's degree in cultural theory was a good groundwork for all kinds of intellectual work," Zinner said. "That's what was appealing about it for me."

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, go to

Jonathan Potts
May 4, 2006

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