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Literatures, Languages and Cultures Degree Programs

The Department of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures is dedicated to the study of words and stories. Words and stories allow the marginalized to be heard by the powerful: they help humans understand each other’s past and present, and imagine different futures. We are inspired by our students, who are decentering literary and linguistic studies, revitalizing these disciplines from the margins. While many of their communities are excluded from the dominant culture’s storyline, or dehumanized by its representations, our students study literature and language with us because they are writing the next chapter. Our department is home to several programs: the English major and minor, the Spanish program major and minor, the Chicanx Studies minor, the American Studies minor, and the World Languages Program (currently offering classes in Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese).

Literatures, Languages, and Cultures Department Guiding Principles

We undertake excellent research and teaching that:

  • Is interdisciplinary and trans-national
  • Engages with race, im/migration, gender, queer, class, and disability studies
  • Works in the historical margins of literatures and languages, and brings these margins to the center of academic research and course curricula
  • Engages with local and global communities
  • Addresses ecological problems and solutions, and environmental justice

We form new fields of study, often in collaboration with our students, including e.g. Chicanx Children’s Literature, Bilingualism in the Healthcare System, Neurodiversity in Victorian Literature, and Eco-Theatrical Shakespeare.

We value students as creators of knowledge: their experiences and ideas are at the center of our classrooms, and we often partner with them in our research.

We offer many different literature and language classes to serve our undergraduate and graduate populations. These classes benefit students by:

  • Helping them understand how languages and stories are made and why they matter in the world, giving them access to ‘canonical’ languages and literatures and those that have been traditionally marginalized
  • Teaching them to communicate in different languages or develop new registers of their home language
  • Improving their ability to close read, analyze, and critically think about texts and information, which is vital to the future of journalism and democracy
  • Improving their writing and oral communication skills
  • Empowering them to tell their own stories, in their own words
  • Cultivating reading habits that are useful to mental health and attention spans

To paraphrase UC Merced’s Diversity Statement, we believe that diverse languages and literatures are vital to our ability to address past wrongs, reaffirm humanity, and ensure a reconciliatory future.

Updated 2021