Overview of the MLC Majors and Minors

In Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC), students can declare a cluster, minor, and major in comparative literature, French, German,  Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish; a cluster and minor in Chinese; and a cluster in Korean and Portuguese.

MLC Majors

MLC majors require between ten and thirteen courses, depending on previous experience or coursework in the language. All majors in MLC share the same two foundational courses, with core and elective courses varying depending on the program.

With the exception of the Comparative Literature degree, all majors in MLC adhere to the following format:

Foundation Courses

These courses fulfill upper-level writing in MLC and focus on important critical, analytical and writing operations at the core of what we do in our programs. Majoring in MLC means more than studying languages alone; it means encountering cultures other than our own, broadening our worldviews and assumptions, and exploring and analyzing questions of identity, culture, traditions and social structures. These core courses help equip our majors to perform these critical operations.

CLTR 200 Topics in Critical Thinking—addresses and theorizes a broad topic of shared importance across the national programs in the department, such as censorship, totalitarianism, transnationalism, the city, violence, gender, race, belief, etc. It is also tasked with teaching close reading and critical analysis of literature, film or images with an emphasis on process writing focusing on the short argumentative essay. Students answer the questions: what is the relationship between form and content, expression and culture, word choice and theme, grammar and meaning? They learn how to define, identify and evaluate evidence and propose and defend an argument.

CLTR 389 MLC Research Seminar—introduces students to a broad range of theoretical and critical approaches to reading and interpreting texts, films, and other cultural objects. Students read literature and theory with an eye toward understanding the role of criticism and why and how the study of literature and culture (still) matters. The class introduces tools for understanding literary uses of languages; the relations between words, images, the human subject and society; and the creation of and struggles over meaning and value. This seminar will model for students how to do research in their MLC major through a workshop process that addresses ways to: identify a research topic/question in their MLC major; begin a scholarly investigation into that topic; and successfully conduct a sustained argument that relies on textual evidence and the application of theoretical insights. There will be short writing assignments and a 20-page research paper.

Core Courses

All majors have between 4 and 6 core courses that focus on:

  • Advanced language proficiency at the 200-level (speaking, reading, writing, listening)
  • Upper-level content courses focusing on literature, film, art, culture, important writers, thinkers, artists, problems or topics

Elective Courses

All majors include three or more electives in language, literature and culture.

MLC Minors

MLC minors vary in content and requirements by program and typically require five or six courses.

What We Do in MLC

In MLC, we help students reach proficiency in the target language and encourage the development and refining of oral and written argumentation in both English and the various national languages. Our courses are focused on careful analysis, original research, and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding across disciplines. Opportunities for independent research and honors projects are available in our programs. MLC majors pair well with other majors throughout the College, including the sciences, social sciences, and other humanities programs.

In our courses, we engage with relevant topics that include:

  • Why stereotypes are dangerous to real understanding and communication. Learn to avoid linguistic mis-readings and cultural stereotypes.
  • How different cultures interpret news and events. The field of telecommunications is the biggest draw in many colleges around the world. Why? Compare points of view, and get culturally and linguistically informed. Great before study abroad!
  • How might literature have a political role in a society as well as a cultural one? How can literary texts be political without turning into propaganda?
  • What makes great writers great? What criteria have been used to identify greatness in authors? Has this changed? What influences choices of greatness? Trace the path of Nobel Prize winners around the world. Can we agree on their transcendent qualities or might we propose our own?
  • What is the role of the arts in creating a national identity? How have they shaped your own identity? How would cultures be different if no one read?
  • How does pop culture across the globe speak to our deepest hopes and fears? Explore film and video, comics, graffiti art, tattoo art, television and the media, and music in various countries.
  • What happens on national borders in today’s global cultures? Is nationalism dead? How do cultural stereotypes play into nationalist debates?
  • What important ideas and debates have shaped culture around the world? What are some issues that should be debated but aren't? Are colleges and universities spaces for debate? Why?
  • How do race, gender, and ethnicity play out across different cultures? How are they looked at differently from these concepts in the United States? How might they coincide? Why are these factors critical in today's world?
  • What is art for art's sake? How have artists interpreted the place of art in different cultures and at different times in history? What are the different roles of the arts in societies at various historical times?
  • What happens to linguistic difference when English, French, Spanish or other languages are seen as the lingua franca of different regions in the world? What might the power of multiple languages be in the world today?