Program in European Cultural Studies

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in European Cultural Studies was established in 1975 on the joint initiative of a number of faculty members in History, Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures, Politics, and Architecture, under the leadership of the eminent cultural historian Carl E. Schorske (1915-2015). Its first certificate class graduated in 1979.  Now housed on the second floor of Scheide Caldwell House within the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, ECS enjoys the administrative support of the Council of the Humanities.

Since its inception, the Program in European Cultural Studies has maintained two central aims: to deepen students’ understanding of European civilization, and to strengthen their command of cultural interpretation through interdisciplinary investigation. Committed since its founding to encouraging our students’ engagement at an international level, ECS now also endeavors to situate the study of Europe in broader global contexts. The Program brings together students and faculty from a wide range of departments in a common inquiry. Our focus is, broadly stated, the ways in which European societies, past and present, order reality, make sense of life, and communicate meaning across a range of disciplines and in a wide variety of media. In order to frame these wide-ranging intellectual problems in precise, productive, and engaging ways, ECS offers innovative, interdisciplinary seminars on topics in European history, literature, art, architecture, music, cinema, theater, politics, and philosophy.

Admission to the Program

Students from a wide variety of majors in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering choose to complete a certificate in European Cultural Studies. The Program's courses involve interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of the products of European culture, from novels, operas, paintings, and photographs, to urban geography and land-use patterns. There are no pre-requisites for admission to the ECS certificate program. However, ECS/EPS 301, ECS/EPS 302, and the HUM 216-219 sequence are each recognized as excellent gateway courses that also count towards fulfillment of the ECS certificate program requirements.

Students normally apply to join the program by the fall of their junior year. Early concentrators, late-comers, and students with further questions about the certificate are urged to contact Brigid Doherty, Director, for additional information.

Program of Study

All students must complete either HUM 216-219 or ECS/EPS 301 or EPS/ECS 302. In addition, they must also take two 300-level ECS seminars, and they are encouraged to enroll in a 400-level ECS seminar. The majority of these seminars are cross-listed with other departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The program has three final requirements. In their junior year, students will take part in a full-day excursion to a cultural event or exhibition in New York, and will also participate in the visit of the program's annual distinguished Faber lecturer. The ECS Junior Excursion is typically scheduled on a weekend and always includes a festive group meal. For the annual ECS Faber Lecture, juniors participate in a mealtime discussion with the speaker on a topic related to the lecture.

In their senior year, ECS students participate in the Senior Thesis Colloquium supervised by the program director. Although ECS certificate students complete their theses under the direction of their home departments, in late winter and early spring of the senior year they join the ECS director to meet one day a week, over a meal, to address common challenges of research, conceptualization, organization, and writing.  Each student submits a chapter to the group for discussion during one of the weekly meetings. Though most ECS students address European topics in their theses, this is not a requirement of the program; for the purposes of the workshop, certificate students from the sciences or engineering may substitute a paper written for a 300-level ECS course for circulation and discussion.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all the requirements will receive a certificate upon graduation.