Aug. 1, 2022 – As one of the largest language departments in the country, the Department of World
Languages & Cultures at the University of Utah offers 21 languages, eight majors and
12 minors. Now, after a groundbreaking restructuring and expansion of their Comparative
Literary & Cultural Studies degree, the department will introduce seven new options
to better meet the needs and interests of more students in Fall 2022. Called the World
Languages & Cultures BA, it will include six emphases that focus on advanced language
study (Comparative Literature, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Persian and Portuguese) and
one (Cultural Studies) that allows students to study global topics in English.
“All paths through this innovative degree share significant engagement with comparison
and analysis across diverse cultures,” said Christopher Lewis, chair of the Department
of World Languages & Cultures. “The major cultivates the essential societal and leadership
skills of critical thinking, analytical writing, communication and intercultural awareness
that are so valuable to students’ future careers – especially for those interested
in international work.”
The Cultural Studies emphasis is unique among the other new tracks in that it doesn’t
require advanced language acquisition. Lewis characterizes it as “a multi-disciplinary
approach with a focus on world literatures and cultures outside the English-speaking
world.” The curriculum can adapt to a student’s interests and goals, with course offerings
that feature world literature taught in translation, anthropology, communication,
film, gender and ethnic studies, history and philosophy.
Before this restructuring, in order to successfully major in Comparative Literature
& Cultural Studies, students had to come to the U with substantial foreign language
skills. According to Lewis, “this made completing the degree difficult – and in some
cases, impossible – for transfer students or those from high schools with few language
options. This pathway is an exciting new opportunity for them to study global topics
The new emphases in Arabic, Italian, Korean, Persian and Portuguese combine all the
benefits of specialization in these linguistic and cultural areas in the target language
with the added advantage of comparative coursework in English.
The revised Comparative Literature emphasis largely resembles the previous version
of the major, focusing on the advanced study of more than one language and culture
in the target language.
For more information about each emphasis, please visit languages.utah.edu. Students interested in pursuing the major in any of the seven emphases should contact
a department advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jana Cunningham, University of Utah College of Humanities