The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures encompasses the study of French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yiddish. More than 100 courses are offered every year, including introductory language classes, upper-level topics courses and community-based practicums, and advanced graduate seminars in literature and theory.

Statement of Commitment

The department is committed to creating a safe, inclusive, equitable, culturally responsive, and supportive environment where all students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed, respected,
and seen. Every member of our community can find ways to shape this ongoing process.

The department is dedicated to fostering diverse approaches and ideas within the fields of language, literature, and media. This includes attending to structurally marginalized and historically minoritized knowledges in our critical and imaginative inquiries. Our curricula and co-curricular activities are meant to reflect this commitment. In recruiting, admissions, hiring, course staffing, and promotions, we are guided by the principles of inclusive excellence.

We are actively committed to work to overcome biases and to strive to prevent on our campus micro-aggressions and identity-based trauma. Therefore, the department welcomes suggestions and concerns from any member—students, staff, and faculty—that might help us improve our pedagogical and collegial relationships. These comments can be directed to the Diversity Champion and/or the Department Chair.

Our Research

Our internationally recognized faculty publish research on topics ranging from the interplay of literature and science in the European Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment, to the nexus of literature and politics in the colonial and post-colonial Americas, Caribbean, and Africa; from literature’s engagement with aesthetics, philosophy, religion, and the environment to theories of gender and the history of the body; from the technologies of the book to the poetics of the stage and screen.

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.

Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

Undergraduates who major or minor in one of our programs gain nuanced understanding not only of the language, culture, and literature they choose to study, but of the ways different systems of expression shape how we see the world. Shared emphasis on the analysis of complex texts—poems, novels, essays, plays, films—provides students with critical tools valuable in any professional context. The major, especially when coupled with study abroad, prepares students for graduate study in humanistic fields as well as for global careers and professions where language expertise is an expectation. The minor can complement any number of major courses of study in the humanities, social sciences, science, or engineering.

Graduate students enrolled in our Ph.D. programs in German, Jewish Languages and Literatures  (Hebrew, Yiddish), and Romance Languages (French, Italian, or Spanish) hail from all over the world. A combination of fellowships and graduate teaching assistantships across five years of study provides students pedagogical training and opportunities to acquaint themselves with the norms of the discipline. Upon earning their doctorates, they go on to teach in colleges, universities, and high schools in the U.S. and abroad, as well as to diverse careers in cultural institutions, public agencies, and the private sector.