GLS students may choose from one of six Global Cultures courses, each designed to help students understand that societies have long histories and enormous diversity within themselves—societies and cultures that intersect across the globe. These courses introduce students to aspects of one particular region's cultural development, broadly defined as including, but not limited to, such disciplines as history, philosophy, the arts, politics, and social institutions.
This course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the great diversity of peoples, places, and cultures on the African continent. Students use a variety of historical sources, literature, and film to explore the paradigms of traditional cultures of precolonial societies and the disruptions of those structures by the incursions of Islam and European colonialism. The course also explores the decolonialization of the continent, the attendant struggles for independence, and post-liberation problems. The impact of modernity on cultural roles and the transformation of African cultures in the diaspora also receive attention.
This course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the multi-lingual cultures of the Caribbean, based on readings from literature, history, and cultural studies. This course takes an interdisciplinary, transnational approach to unpacking connections between the histories of slavery, indentureship and European colonialism and the Caribbean’s current realities of inequality, internally—in particular inequalities of race and gender—and in its economic relations with the West. Questions addressed include: How have the residual legacies of slavery and colonization facilitated consumption in and of the Caribbean? And what cultural resources and strengths are deployed or lost to migration?
East Asian Cultures
This course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to China, Japan, and Korea, generally concentrating on one of these regions. Students study aspects of the traditional and/or modern cultures of one or more of these countries, such as the foundational texts of major schools of thought, as well as literary, political, philosophical, religious, and artistic works. Topics may include the roots and growth of East Asian culture, national or cultural identity in relation to imperialism and colonialism, East-West tensions, modernism’s clash with tradition, the persistence of the traditional within the modern, the East Asian diaspora, and questions of East Asian “modernities.”
Latin American Cultures
This course offers a broad, interdisciplinary introduction to the diversity in the Caribbean and the Americas beyond the United States and Canada. Given the European, American, African, Asian, and indigenous Indian influences on the region’s varied cultures and societies, the course focuses on one or more of such topics as the social, political, artistic, economic, and ethnological issues of the pre-Columbian, colonial, independence, and contemporary periods. It traces both cultural communities and differences within Latin America. The course also explores Latin American ideas about the place that the region occupies in the Americas and the world.
Middle Eastern Cultures
This course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the societies, cultures, politics, and history of the contemporary Near East and Islamic North Africa. Sociological, historical, and political texts, as well as achievements in the fine and performing arts, films, and literary works, are employed to examine the region’s rich historical legacy and current complexity. Topics include the historical-cultural relations between the Middle East and the West; the impact of historical, economic, and political change in the region’s cultures and societies; and the contemporary state of the region.
South Asian Cultures
This course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the society and culture of the Indian subcontinent, concentrating on one or more of the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Students study aspects of the traditional and/or modern cultures of one or more of these countries, such as the foundational texts of major schools of thought, as well as literary, political, philosophical, religious, and artistic works. The course explores the interactions of historical tradition and change and illuminates such issues as colonialism, sectarianism, and modernization.