Undergraduate Programs

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The Literature Program’s major and minor Global Culture & Theory draws broadly on the resources of the humanities to address the ethical, cultural, social, and political complexities of events that take place in our world. Our courses study literature, film, media and the arts to do so. 

As the hub of interdisciplinary humanities, the Global Culture & Theory major offers students the opportunity to engage comprehensively with areas of inquiry normally separated by disciplinary forms. Whether the focus is on Fascist culture or Virginia Woolf, digital architecture or recent geopolitical upheavals in the Middle East, the major is concerned with deepening our understanding of the events that have shaped and continue to shape our lives. Given the rapid acceleration in the production of culture, and the apparently seamless transposition of culture into capital, our major is committed to the idea that the humanities may be the only place where broad and non-instrumental examination of the scope and nature of cultural change not only remains possible but continues to be actively encouraged. 

Global Culture & Theory major thus explores the range of humanistic inquiry, including critical theory, literary studies, race and gender studies and queer theory, philosophy, political theory, visual culture, film, new media and sound studies. It is committed to the notion that the humanities produce a distinct kind of positive knowledge, one different from the sciences. The broad scope of our program provides students with the knowledge base and the analytical skills needed to make choices as responsible global citizens.

To that end, we offer courses that deal with important conceptual discussions in theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, film, media, literature and Artificial Intelligence and offer seminars that give students an in-depth look into the work of individual thinkers and writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, and Roland Barthes. The courses we offer also concern contemporary social movements, (such as Black Lives Matter, the Umbrella Movement and #YoSoy123), and delve into questions of Latin American and Caribbean identity. They engage in the study of a range of international cinemas and Hollywood classics, such as the works of Alfred Hitchcock.

Our core faculty work comparatively in and across different cultural contexts, diverse geographical and geopolitical locations, and distinct media forms to offer courses in nine general areas:

  • critical and social theory and the history of philosophy
  • modern literature and contemporary theories and philosophies of language and literature
  • visual culture, global cinema and film theory
  • media studies, internet culture and artificial intelligence in the digital age
  • sound, music and jazz studies
  • political and decolonial theory, Marxism, poststructuralism, and postcolonial studies
  • psychoanalysis, science studies, cognitive neuroscience, and the history of psychiatry
  • comparative race studies in a transnational frame
  • feminism, gender, queer and trans-theory, and sexuality studies.

Our majors are active thinkers. The student-run Society for Modern Thought and literary journal OTHER provide extracurricular opportunities for collaborative work beyond the classroom, allowing students to expand and apply the skills they learn as Literature majors to creative and practical endeavors.

Our graduates have gone on to careers in law, medicine, information technology, public policy, teaching, academic administration, journalism, publishing, and the creative cultural industries. Many have advanced to top graduate programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Film & Media Concentration

We also offer a Concentration in Film and Media, providing students the opportunity to pursue a flexible curriculum with a focus on film and media topics and objects.  Graduates with this concentration will gain the necessary skills for a wide range of careers, including work in the cinema and media industries, the commercial cinema and the film festival circuit, cultural and governmental organizations (in the fields of the arts, communication, conservation, heritage, etc.), specialized and online publishing and journalism, and the creative arts. The concentration prepares students for highly competitive graduate programs in film and media studies.