How GCS is Different

How is Global Cultural Studies different from English?

Like in the English department, you can study literature as part of the Global Cultural Studies major. But, first of all, it’s global. Whereas English courses focus primarily on literature written in English, the Global Culture Studies major allows students to engage with literature from all around the world. And, even more importantly, it deals with culture in a very broad sense, not just literature but also film, art, social media, new technologies, and more. 

How is it different from International Comparative Studies?

Like International Comparative Studies (ICS), the Global Cultural Studies major gives students the tools to engage with the contemporary globalizing world. Yet, whereas ICS approaches global culture primarily using social science methodologies, the Global Cultural Studies major draws primarily from humanities disciplines, such as literature, film, philosophy, and art, and focuses on the lived dimensions of culture. Similarly, whereas ICS encourages empirical work with regional concentrations, the Global Cultural Studies major offers a more theoretical approach that ranges across a wider expanse of culture.

How is it different from Cultural Anthropology?

Cultural Anthropology and Global Cultural Studies both focus on culture but they approach it in very different ways. For cultural anthropologists, culture means the structures of human relations, and refers, for example, to belief systems, kinship relations and gender relations in different societies. In the Global Cultural Studies major, by contrast, students focus primarily on cultural products, such as literary texts, films, video games, and social media. In addition, whereas cultural anthropologists explore a specific society through in-depth fieldwork, the Global Cultural Studies major uses philosophical and theoretical approaches across regions that open broad questions about life in the 21st century world.

What does it prepare me for?

Graduates have gone on to top graduate programs and professional schools and have pursued unique career trajectories in law, medicine, public policy, teaching, journalism, publishing, and the creative cultural industries.

What is Theory?

A theory is a framework or explanation that helps us see the big picture and form useful conclusions. In the sciences, theory identifies what is consistently similar from many different experiments, as in Newtonian mechanics or Einsteinian relativity. In the humanities, theory also proposes general frameworks, but because of the complexity of cultures, draws from a whole palette of theoretical approaches. Theoretical exploration in the humanities often involves looking at things from specific perspectives: for instance, what can gender theory reveal about male dominance in computer technology fields? And theory in the humanities typically seeks a deepened understanding of how observable cultural phenomena operate: how, for example, do ideas about personhood shape the history of the novel and how does the novel inform the actual experience of persons at different historical moments?