Major in Global Cultural Studies

Requirements for the Major

The Global Cultural Studies Major in the Program in Literature investigates the forms of life and culture produced in today’s interconnected, globalized world. Engagement in interdisciplinary humanities disciplines builds a distinct knowledge essential for understanding our complex contemporary social environment. Courses in literary studies, critical theory, gender studies and queer theory, philosophy, political theory, film, visual culture, and new media form the foundation for such inquiry. With its distribution of courses across three domains of inquiry—Experience, Interpretation, and Medium—the major equips students with a broad knowledge base and analytical skills preparing them for leadership roles in the twenty-first century. Graduates of the major have pursued unique careers in law, medicine, public policy, teaching, journalism, publishing, and the creative cultural industries. Many have advanced to top graduate programs in the humanities.

10 Courses

  • LIT201 Intro to Global Cultural Studies
  • LIT 301S Theory Today: Introduction to the Study of Literature
  • 4 core courses from three domains of inquiry taught by faculty who have appointments in Literature.
    • Core Course 1: Experience Domain, taught by faculty with appointments in Literature
    • Course Course 2: Interpretation Domain, taught by faculty with appointments in Literature
    • Core Course 3: Medium Domain, taught by faculty with appointments in Literature
    • Core Course 4: Any Domain (Experience, Interpretation, or Medium), taught by faculty with appointments in Literature
  • 3 electives from humanities fields
  • Senior culminating experience completed in the senior year in one of the following three formats. The instructor/supervisor of the course/project chosen from the three options below must be a faculty member with a Literature appointment.
    • LIT 393 Research Independent Study, producing a significant research paper of 15-20 pages subject to review by both the study supervisor and DUS, OR
    • Graduate-level Course Numbered 500-699, OR
    • Completed Honors Thesis Track, including both completed seminars LIT 495 and 496, along with a successful panel-reviewed defense
Requests for enrollment to our Honors Thesis Track are assessed by our committee-reviewed application process. Applicants for the Global Cultural Studies Honors Thesis must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, with a GPA of 3.2 or higher in the Global Cultural Studies Major. Applicants should ideally have completed two or more classes with faculty holding appointments in Literature in order for us to assess the applicant’s readiness for the work. Please note that completion of all components of our honors thesis track is required to satisfy the Senior Culminating Experience Requirement. These components include both seminars LIT 495 Honors Thesis I and LIT 496 Honors Thesis II, along with a successful panel-reviewed defense resulting in a final grade of B+ or higher. Without completion of the entire honors thesis track components as a whole, neither LIT 495 nor LIT 496 will count separately as one of the ten courses required for our major.

Domains of Inquiry

Keep in mind that of the courses listed below, only courses taught by faculty who have appointments in Literature will count as Core Courses toward our Major, Minor, or Film and Media Concentration.

The humanities investigate human existence as it is personally and collectively experienced. Human experience is always situated, always intertwined with specific historical, geographical, political, social, cultural, or economic conditions and contexts. The humanities ask what it meant to be human in a specific time and place, and try to understand how human beings have sought to make sense of their lives, and of the events and ideas in which they participate and which have been handed down to them. To explore the meanings of human existence, the humanities study everything from the intimate arenas of embodiment, selfhood, and identity to the political and philosophical dimensions of collective planetary life. This category includes courses concerned with identity, social and bodily life, and with theoretical problems arising from the attempt to demarcate agency from the broader environments out of which it emerges.

Number Title Codes
LIT 285 Existentialism CCI, EI, ALP
LIT 320S Social Movements and Social Media CCI, EI, STS, ALP, CZ
LIT 332S Social Movements in Age of Globalization CCI, EI, R, CZ, SS
LIT 380 Marxism and Society EI, CZ, SS
LIT 486S Ordinary Language Philosophy ALP
LIT 542S Literary Guide to Italy CCI, ALP, CZ
LIT 615S The #Selfie EI, R, STS, CZ
LIT 644 Modernism
LIT 672 Representation in a Global Perspective CCI, ALP
LIT 690-6 Topics in Psychoanalytic Theory and Criticism

The major method of the humanities is interpretation, understood as any kind of reading, decoding or deciphering of signs, sign - systems, languages, texts, artworks, and material artefacts. Humanists ask what meaning is, how it is produced and communicated, and how meaning fails. Critical reflection on questions of language, meaning and interpretation is the central concern of a wide range of different theories and philosophies in the humanities, such as hermeneutics, Saussurean linguistics, structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and ordinary language philosophy. This category includes courses concerned with the practice of interpretation and reading, and/or the theoretical problems arising from the attempt to understand human signs and artefacts.

Attending to the history and technicity of the media in which culture is expressed, transmitted, and inherited comprises a crucial dimension of the humanities in our contemporary moment. Humanists ask not simply what a given cultural artefact means, but how the medium of its expression and conveyance impacts its meaning and its cultural efficacy. Ranging from focused comparative explorations of different media (print, image, sound, cinema) to more philosophical considerations of the historical role of mediation, from writing to the internet and cell phone, courses in this category address the tension between meaning and materiality that stems from the inherent media specificity of every cultural expression, and range in scope from concretely situated notions of “genre,” “audience,” and “sense modality” to broader operations of “reflexivity” and “receptivity.”

Number Title Codes
LIT 215 Italian Cinema CCI, ALP
LIT 316S Film Theory STS, ALP
LIT 317S Media Theory STS
LIT 318S American Independent Cinema CCI, ALP
LIT 320S Social Movements and Social Media CCI, EI, STS, ALP, CZ
LIT 380 Marxism and Society EI, CZ, SS
LIT 611S Film Feminisms CCI, ALP, CZ
LIT 612S Theories of the Image: The Image in Walter Benjamin ALP
LIT 615S The #Selfie EI, R, STS, CZ
LIT 625S Comparative Media Studies STS, ALP