CLCS 235T Greek Civilizations and Their Discontents. Photo by Jessica Borgert

Academic programs: Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Major

Meet Us

Get an interdisciplinary look at culture in multiple contexts

“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil

The Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) major at Franklin focuses on cultural phenomena and processes as they unfold under the pressure of historical, social and economic forces. Inherent in our approach is an understanding of culture as an ever-evolving entity that demands continuous acts of interpretation, negotiation and creativity.

Our teaching is both theoretical and topic-based: for instance, we explore how collective memory is shaped in the wake of slavery or apartheid; we seek to understand the conse-quences of forced or voluntary mobility; we examine the cultural significance of cuisine; we investigate the multiple ways in which law shapes cultural processes; we explore the nexus of culture and nature; and we study forms of popular music as an expression of culture.

The comparative work we do explores each topic from a number of disciplinary angles and situates it in its historical context. In this context we ask how the topic is reflected in, and influenced by, literary texts, film and visual culture; we investigate how new media contribute to our understanding of cultural processes and trace how broader systems of knowledge and power, such as law or policy, come to bear on them.  In comparing these various modes of knowledge production, we use theory to help us appreciate cultural nuances and to understand the multiple challenges that confront us in today’s globalized world.

Our program is both rigorous and flexible. We support our students in designing their own educational path, which culminates in a year-long senior thesis or an internship. In both cases, this final focus on an original piece of research, or on a specific professional arena, prepares our graduates for success on the job market. So, what can you do with a CLCS degree? A lot, in fact: the range of careers open to our graduates includes any sector that values keen analytical abilities, synthetic thinking, and effective oral and written expression. Our alums over the past decade have built careers at NGOs, with governmental agencies, in development aid and human rights;  in academia, law, business, psychology, marketing and journalism; as editors, politicians, interpreters, teachers and foreign aid workers. Many have also gone on to graduate school to seek advanced degrees in fields as diverse as psychology, history, development aid, literature, art history, law, cultural studies and environmental studies.


  • Caroline Wiedmer

  • Patrick Saveau

  • Fabio Ferrari

  • Sara Steinert Borella


All of the courses required in the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS)  major are topic-based and explore literature and culture from multiple perspectives.  Four major elective courses are selected in consultation with the student’s major advisor (see description below). Students planning a major in CLCS should enroll in LC 100 or LC 110 prior to taking upper-division classes in the major.

Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Major Requirements