Program in European Cultural Studies

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in European Cultural Studies was established in 1975 on the joint initiative 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.  Committed since its founding to encouraging students' engagement at an international level, ECS now also endeavors to situate the study of Europe in broader global contexts.

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. ECS 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 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. ECS courses involve interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of the products of European culture, from novels, poems, operas, paintings, photographs, films, and philosophical treatises, to new media, 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 to fulfill the ECS core course requirement. In addition, they must complete a total of two more elective courses in ECS; these ECS elective courses may be taken at either the 300- or the 400-level. The majority of ECS courses are cross-listed with other departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The program has three final requirements: the ECS Excursion, ECS Faber Lecture and Colloquium, and ECS Senior Thesis Colloquium.

The ECS Excursion requirement and the ECS Faber Lecture and Colloquium requirement are normally completed during the junior year.  ECS certificate students take part in a full-day ECS Excursion to a cultural event or exhibition in New York.  Offered annually, the ECS Excursion typically takes place on a Friday or a Saturday, and always includes a discussion over a group meal.  Participation in both parts of the ECS Excursion (the cultural event and the mealtime discussion) is required of all ECS certificate students.  To complete the ECS Faber Lecture and Colloquium requirement, students attend the ECS Faber Lecture, which is given annually by a distinguished visiting scholar.  Held in connection with the annual ECS Faber Lecture, the ECS Faber Colloquium offers certificate students the opportunity to join in a mealtime discussion with the ECS Faber Lecturer.  Participation in both parts of the ECS Faber Lecture and Colloquium is required of all ECS certificate students. .

In their senior year, ECS students participate in the Senior Thesis Colloquium.  Although ECS certificate students complete their theses under the direction of their home departments, over the course of the second half of the fall term and the first half of the spring term of the senior year, all ECS seniors join the ECS director to meet one day a week, over a meal, for discussion of common challenges of research, conceptualization, organization, and writing.  Each student shares an excerpt from the senior thesis with the group during one of the Colloquium's meetings. Senior thesis excerpts are circulated in advance, and active participation in the weekly Senior Thesis Colloquium discussions is required of all ECS seniors.  Though most ECS students address European topics in their theses, this is not a requirement of the program.  For the purposes of the Senior Thesis Colloquium, certificate students from the sciences or engineering may circulate a paper written for an ECS course in place of an excerpt from the senior thesis.

Certificate of Proficiency

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