Welcome to Global Culture and THEORY Studies!

Global Culture and Theory in the Literature Program draws broadly on the resources of the humanities to address the ethical, cultural, social, and political complexities of events in our world. We focus on literary texts, the arts, film and media to do so.

As the hub of interdisciplinary humanities, the Global Culture and Theory Major offers students the opportunity to engage comprehensively with areas of inquiry normally separated by disciplinary forms. Whether the focus is on Fascist culture or Virginia Woolf, digital architecture or recent geopolitical upheavals in the Middle East, the Major is concerned with deepening our understanding of the events that have shaped and continue to shape our lives. Given the rapid acceleration in the production of culture, and the apparently seamless transposition of culture into capital, our Major is committed to the idea that the humanities may be the only place where broad and non-instrumental examination of the scope and nature of cultural change not only remains possible but continues to be actively encouraged. 

Global Culture and Theory thus explores the range of humanistic inquiry. It is committed to the notion that the humanities produce a distinct kind of positive knowledge, one different from the sciences.

Our Major provides students with the “bigger picture” that will allow them to understand and to shape global cultural production and change it. To that end, we offer courses that deal with major conceptual discussions in theory, philosophy, neuroscience, film, media and literature as well as those that give students in-depth expertise in the work of individual thinkers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, and Roland Barthes. The courses we offer also concern contemporary social movements, (such as Black Lives Matter), delve into questions of Latin American and Caribbean identity, and draw on a range of international cinemas and Hollywood classics, such as the work of Alfred Hitchcock.

Our core faculty work comparatively in and across different cultural contexts, diverse geographical and geopolitical locations, and distinct media forms to offer courses in seven general areas:

  • critical and social theory and the history of philosophy
  • modern literature and contemporary theories and philosophies of language and literature
  • visual culture, global cinema and film theory, the internet and media studies in the digital age
  • political and decolonial theory, Marxism, poststructuralism and postcolonial studies
  • psychoanalysis, science studies, cognitive neuroscience, and the history of psychiatry
  • comparative race studies in a transnational frame
  • feminism, gender, queer and trans- theory, and sexuality studies.

The broad scope of our program provides students with the knowledge base and analytical skills needed for participation as responsible global citizens.

Our majors are active thinkers. Their student-run society, and literary journal OTHER provide extracurricular opportunities for collaborative work beyond the classroom, allowing students to expand and apply the skills they learn as Literature majors to creative and practical endeavors.

Our graduates have gone on to careers in law, medicine, information technology, public policy, teaching, academic administration, journalism, publishing, and the creative cultural industries.

Film & Media Concentration

We also offer a Concentration in Film and Media, providing students the opportunity to pursue a flexible curriculum with a focus on film and media topics and objects.  Graduates with this concentration will gain the necessary skills for a wide range of careers, including work in the cinema and media industries, the commercial cinema and the film festival circuit, cultural and governmental organizations (in the fields of the arts, communication, conservation, heritage, etc.), specialized and online publishing and journalism, and the creative arts. The concentration prepares students for highly competitive graduate programs in film and media studies.

Departmental website: https://literature.duke.edu/


Contact the DUS, Negar Mottahedeh to arrange for advising once your declare your major.

Requirements and General Information

Learn more about major and minor requirements, and general information for new majors.