Last week Trinity announced that it will be introducing a new major within the Department of Language and Culture Studies. The major is called “World Literature and Culture Studies” and will allow students to study literature from a vast number of different countries and cultures. The major was designed with the intent to allow students explore literature, culture, and linguistics across national broders. Students will major broadly in literary studies and learn to place texts within their original cultural content, as well as use literary criticism and other methodologies to interpret texts.
Chairperson of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies and Associate Professor of Russian Carol Any has spearheaded the effort to make this major a reality. A faculty subcommittee spent two years conceiving and developing the specifics of the major and finally felt that their proposal was ready for submission to the College Curriculum Committee in December. The proposal was approved just last month and is now a go for current first-year and sophomore students and all future students.
The major will be customized for each student’s particular interests, and will incorporate classes from across disciplines, such as philosophy, religion, and history, in addition to literature and foreign language classes. There are twelve class requirements, including a senior project that integrates the various literary and interdisciplinary experiences a student has had. All students will take LACS 299, “Foundations of Literature and Culture Studies” as well as at least three courses in another discipline that revolve around some sort of thematic focus. Some foreign language study will be required, generally to the second- or third-year level. This can be as little as one semester more than the foreign language requirement faced by all students, Any points out. The diverse range of cultures and disciplines will allow students to interpret literature in a way that was not possible before. Having an intermediate level of foreign language can help students avoid the pitfalls of reading works that have been translated into English, because they develop the ability to recognize common errors or phrases that may distort the original.
Any saw a need for this new major because she saw a gap that needed to be filled. “We were seeing lots of students who were interested in different world literatures, but didn’t have a strong interest in advanced foreign language study. We designed the world literature track with all students in mind,” said Professor Any. The World Literature track will be made up of pre-existing classes in the Language and Culture Studies. Many students don’t realize that the majority of LACS classes are taught in English but explore fascinating literature from French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or Hebrew authors. Students with advanced foreign language skils are encouraged to take some literary courses in their original language, which provides a more complete and fulfilling literary experience.
“Until now majoring in literature meant restricting yourself to the literature of one, or maybe two, cultures. [Trinity] offers courses in nine different linguistic and literary cultures. That’s very impressive for a college the size of Trinity, so creating a major in World Literature and Culture seemed like a no-brainer,” explains Any, on her dedication and personal interest in the field. The Department of Language and Culture Studies has seen a number of enthusiastic responses from students and anyone with questions may speak to any LACS faculty member to find out more.