The programs within the Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies share certain basic objectives:

  • To familiarize students with the languages, literatures, histories, and/or artistic achievements of various cultures.
  • To provide students with the tools to understand and analyze different forms of cultural expression, whether that expression takes the form of language, literature, music, theater, cinema, or the visual arts.
  • To nurture the ability to think critically and teach students to construct coherent arguments that draw on sources they will not necessarily encounter in other fields of study.

Each program within the department has its own specific objectives. Please see the links to the left for more information.

  • Humanities

    The General Humanities program explores the dialogues among various forms of cultural production, including art, music, and literature. Students select from courses in classics, art history, and music history.

    There are three levels of courses, with specific skills targeted to these levels. 100-level courses emphasize core skills that enable students to analyze cultural products according to three rubrics:

    Genre/type: students should (a) know the traditional aims and conventions of the major types or genres of work produced in the historical and regional contexts covered by the course; and (b) be able to articulate how a given work sustains, transforms, or breaks those conventions in the pursuit of its particular aims.

    Form/style: students should (a) thoroughly and accurately perceive the techniques and formal elements of a given work; (b) use appropriate technical vocabulary for describing those media, techniques, and formal elements; and (c) relate those formal/stylistic elements to the contextual meaning/purpose and expressive content of the work.

    Context: students should (a) relate works to the ideas and practices of their original contexts (social, cultural, political, religious, etc.); and (b) account for how a given work sought to affect or influence the ideas and practices of the context in which it was produced.

    Courses at the 200 and 300 level usually address a narrower time period and/or cultural area, and allow for deeper consideration of context and more thorough analysis of individual works of art, literature, music, cinema, or drama. Primary sources and scholarly secondary sources are typically introduced into the curriculum. Assignments may require research and/or critical thinking skills. A higher level of achievement in the core skills introduced in 100-level courses is expected, perhaps especially in the area of contextual analysis.

    Courses at the 400 and 500 level continue to develop the core skills and add:

    Research skills: students should (a) be able to use a variety of research resources, including libraries, online scholarly databases (such as JSTOR), and online image databases (such as ARTstor); and (b) be conversant with any of the major citation formats (MLA, Chicago, etc).

    Critical thinking: the student should be able to (a) distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information; (b) summarize differing arguments about and/or approaches to the material; and (c) evaluate those arguments/approaches based on evidence and/or instrumentality.
  • Art History

    The Art History major offers students not simply a knowledge of the broad scope of artistic production over the course of human history, but also an understanding of the complex relationship between art and culture. One central learning objective is to encourage students to answer a deceptively simple question: Why does a work of art look the way it looks? The answers can often be found by examining historical context, artistic intention, audience, patronage, iconography, material, technique, and many other issues that students must be taught to recognize. Ultimately, the study of art history nurtures a mode of critical thinking that depends on visual analysis and focuses on the interpretation of images.

    There are three levels of courses, with specific skills targeted to these levels. 100-level courses emphasize core skills that enable students to analyze art and related works of visual culture according to three rubrics:

    Genre/type: Students should (a) know the traditional aims and conventions of the major types or genres of work produced in the historical and regional contexts covered by the course (e.g. Renaissance status portraits, Gothic Cathedrals); and (b) be able to articulate how a given work sustains, transforms, or breaks those conventions in the pursuit of its particular aims.

    Form/style: Students should (a) thoroughly and accurately perceive the media, techniques, and formal elements of a given work (composition, texture, scale, etc.); (b) use appropriate technical vocabulary for describing those media, techniques, and formal elements (contrapposto, nave, painterly brushwork); and (c) relate those formal/stylistic elements to the contextual meaning/purpose and expressive content of the work.

    Context: Students should (a) relate works to the ideas and practices of their original contexts (social, cultural, political, religious, etc.); and (b) account for how a given work sought to affect or influence the ideas and practices of the culture in which it was produced.

    Courses at the 200 and 300 level usually address a narrower time period and/or cultural area, and allow for deeper consideration of context and more thorough analysis of individual works of art. Primary sources and scholarly secondary sources are typically introduced into the curriculum. Assignments may require research and/or critical thinking skills. A higher level of achievement in the core skills introduced in 100-level courses is expected, perhaps especially in the area of contextual analysis.

    Courses at the 400 and 500 level continue to develop the core skills above and add:

    Research skills: Students should (a) be able to use a variety of research resources, including libraries, online scholarly databases (such as JSTOR), and online image databases (such as ARTstor); and (b) be conversant with any of the major citation formats (MLA, Chicago, etc).

    Critical thinking: Students should be able to (a) distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information; (b) summarize differing arguments about and/or approaches to the material; and (c) evaluate those arguments/approaches based on evidence and/or instrumentality.

  • Music History

    Students studying Music History will achieve a deeper and broader understanding of not only the forms and styles of music through the ages but also a richer appreciation for its historical context.

    We have identified three levels of courses, with specific skills targeted to these levels. One hundred-level courses are broad introductory surveys that emphasize the analysis of music according to three rubrics:

    Genre/subject: Students should (a) exhibit knowledge of the traditional aims and conventions of the work's general type, genre, or subject in its historical context ('Medieval motet' or 'Classical concerto'); and (b) exhibit knowledge of how a given work of that type sustains, transforms, or breaks those general conventions in the pursuit of its particular aims.

    Form/style: Students should (a) thoroughly and accurately perceive the techniques and formal elements of a given work (sonata form, contrapuntal texture, etc.); (b) use appropriate technical vocabulary for describing those media, techniques, and formal elements (development, imitation, polyphony); and (c) relate those formal/stylistic elements to the contextual meaning/purpose and expressive content of the work.

    Context: Students should (a) relate works to the ideas and practices of their original contexts (social, cultural, political, religious, etc.); and (b) account for how a given work sought to affect or influence the ideas and practices of its original context.

    Courses at the 200-300 level address a narrower time period or more focused topic and therefore allow more time to be spent both on developing context and on analyzing individual works. Key primary sources and scholarly secondary sources are introduced into the curriculum to supplement the textbook. The main difference from the 100-level courses is the expectation of a higher level of achievement in the above skills. Work at the 400-500 level will continue to develop the core skills of music historical analysis and will add research skills and place a greater emphasis on critical thinking.
  • French and French Studies

    The French program within the Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies prepares students to become effective readers, writers, and speakers of French, and to more fully appreciate and understand the literatures and cultures of countries where French is spoken. Students must demonstrate achievement in four distinct areas:

    Oral/aural communication: Students should demonstrate command in both speaking French and understanding it when spoken. Speech patterns should be well-organized and generally cohesive; pronunciation and fluency should be close to the norm and may even approach that of near-native speakers in some cases. Social and/or cultural references should also used appropriately.

    Written communication: Students should demonstrate a competent (and in some cases near-native) command of the complex structures of the French language with limited errors in vocabulary and syntax.

    Cultural awareness: Students should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Francophone verbal culture as expressed in literature, theater, film, etc.

    Critical and analytical thinking: Students should demonstrate an ability to understand and interpret written texts in French. This includes the ability to comprehend and synthesize a written text; to develop a working thesis and defend it through proper use of evidence and argument; and to write a coherent, critical essay that properly documents both primary and secondary sources. Students should also display a knowledge of different literary genres, literary tropes, cultural phenomena, and textual analysis.
  • German Studies

    The German Studies program within the Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies prepares students to become effective readers, writers, and speakers of German, and to more fully appreciate and understand the literatures and cultures of countries where German is spoken. Students must demonstrate achievement in four distinct areas:

    Oral/aural communication: Students should demonstrate command in both speaking German and understanding it when spoken. Speech patterns should be well-organized and generally cohesive; pronunciation and fluency should be close to the norm and may even approach that of near-native speakers in some cases. Social and/or cultural references should also used appropriately.

    Written communication: Students should demonstrate a competent (and in some cases near-native) command of the complex structures of the German language with limited errors in vocabulary and syntax.

    Cultural awareness: Students should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the culture of the German-speaking areas of Europe as expressed in literature, theater, film, etc.

    Critical and analytical thinking: Students should demonstrate an ability to understand and interpret written texts in German. This includes the ability to comprehend and synthesize a written text; to develop a working thesis and defend it through proper use of evidence and argument; and to write a coherent, critical essay that properly documents both primary and secondary sources. Students should also display a knowledge of different literary genres, literary tropes, cultural phenomena, and textual analysis.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies

    Foreign language requirement: Students must demonstrate proficiency beyond the intermediate level in French, Portuguese or Spanish. They must achieve a competent command of either French, Spanish or Portuguese with limited errors in vocabulary and syntax.

    Cultural awareness: Students should demonstrate a broad yet integrated knowledge of the cultural, economic, geographical, historical, political and social reality of Latin America and the Caribbean. They should also demonstrate an appreciation of the presence and impact of Latino and Caribbean cultures in the United States and abroad.

    Critical and analytical thinking: Students should demonstrate a multidisciplinary understanding of the region through an effective research methodology which cogently integrates different points of view that reflect the complexity of Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes the ability to comprehend and synthesize different types of cultural phenomena; to develop a working thesis and defend it through proper use of evidence and argument; and to write a coherent, critical essay that properly documents both primary and secondary sources.
  • Spanish

    The Spanish program within the Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies prepares students to become effective readers, writers, and speakers of Spanish, and to more fully appreciate and understand the literatures and cultures of countries where Spanish is spoken. Students must demonstrate achievement in four distinct areas:

    Oral/aural communication: Students should demonstrate command in both speaking Spanish and understanding it when spoken. Speech patterns should be well-organized and generally cohesive; pronunciation and fluency should be close to the norm and may even approach that of near-native speakers in some cases. Social and/or cultural references should also used appropriately.

    Written communication: Students should demonstrate a competent (and in some cases near-native) command of the complex structures of the Spanish language with limited errors in vocabulary and syntax.

    Cultural awareness: Students should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the verbal culture of Spanish as expressed in literature, theater, film, etc.

    Critical and analytical thinking: Students should demonstrate an ability to understand and interpret written texts in Spanish. This includes the ability to comprehend and synthesize a written text; to develop a working thesis and defend it through proper use of evidence and argument; and to write a coherent, critical essay that properly documents both primary and secondary sources. Students should also display a knowledge of different literary genres, literary tropes, cultural phenomena and textual analysis.