As a CSLC major, you will study how different literatures and languages, in combination with various other forms of cultural expression (music, art, philosophy, the sciences), structure a given culture’s experience of the world—as well as how they shape our own.
As a major and department almost entirely unique to Occidental, Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture allows you to investigate the ways in which literature uses all the devices and resources of a given language not simply to “entertain”, but more fundamentally, to open its readers and listeners up to the manifold possibilities of their world—to make (and remake) the horizons of intelligibility within which the speakers of a common language ordinarily dwell. To adapt the words of Henry David Thoreau, to study in CSLC is nothing less than to explore how the shape of our words can “affect the quality of the day”, how they “carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium” in we which move, live, think, and breathe.
Literature and language, of course, do not operate in isolation from a myriad of other aspects (intellectual, physical, emotional) of a culture. CSLC thus invites its students to develop, in consultation with department faculty, a collaboratively designed and fully interdisciplinary major that engages at least one specific literature and language, and one specialized external discipline, of the student’s own choosing. You might elect, for example, to study German literature in relation to music or painting, Ancient Greek literature in relation to biology or economics, Chinese prose and poetry in relation to film; alternatively, students might wish to compare the literary and cultural forms of different language groups—Roman epic in relation to Spanish or Russian novel, or Persian love lyric in relation to Japanese song.
As of Fall 2019, the department will offer courses in German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Ancient Greek, Latin, Persian and Nahuatl (Aztec). With the permission of their home department, students may also petition to study French, Spanish, and Arabic as part of their CSLC major.
As an interdisciplinary major that seeks to articulate the connection between all major forms of human cultural expression—literature, language, art, science, philosophy—CSLC provides an excellent preparation for all manner of graduate studies, and has successfully prepared students for careers in fields as diverse as education and computer gaming, law and medicine, business administration and the creative arts.
Occidental’s Group Language major allows you to combine the study of either two foreign languages or a language and linguistics.