The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures encompasses the study of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Yiddish-speaking worlds. More than 300 courses are offered every year, from introductory language classes to advanced graduate seminars in literature and theory.
The department is the birthplace of the Modern Language Association and home to Modern Language Notes, one of the leading academic journals in literary studies.
Our world-renowned faculty publishes critical research on a range of topics from new interpretations of medieval French poetry to the interplay of literature and science in the age of Enlightenment; from the history of lost books to the problem of incivility in contemporary social life; from literature’s engagement with aesthetics and philosophy to film theory; from gender dynamics in the colonial Americas to the influence of new media on present-day body images.
Undergraduates who major or minor in one of the department’s languages graduate with a profound understanding not only of the language, culture, and literature they have studied, but of the importance of cultural difference for how one sees the world. While the major prepares them to go on to graduate study should they choose to, our graduates in fact go on to an exciting variety of careers, all of which benefit from their immersion in the language and literature of another culture. Finally, our emphasis throughout the major on literary analysis in the original language provides students with powerful cognitive tools of immeasurable value in any walk of life.
Our graduate students hail from all over the world to earn their doctorates with this faculty, and go on to teach at some of the finest institutions in the U.S. and abroad. During their time here they take advanced seminars while developing their own research program, and are supported by a combination of fellowships and graduate teaching assistantships that provide them with excellent pedagogical training for their first years after completing the degree.
Read more on the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures’ history page.