We are now in our twentieth year in the forefront of crossdisciplinary research and teaching in the liberal arts.
Most traditional humanistic and social-scientific disciplines tend to focus either on a given mode of discourse (art history, musicology, etc.) or a specific cultural context (American studies, European languages and literatures, etc.). By contrast, our program engages a broader problematic: how discourse and cultural production both shape and are shaped by life in time, space, matter, and society.
Drawing on a wide variety of theoretical positions, we try to pay close attention to discourse of various types (music, film, myth, ritual, architecture, landscape and urban design, painting, sculpture, literature, etc.) in elite, popular, folk, and mass culture, understanding these both as a site and as an instrument of contestation and negotiation among social forces. More generally, the program seeks to reassociate intellectual and cultural history with social and political history, to set discourse of various sorts within a social context, and to consider specific social formations within the ongoing historical process. In all this, we encourage work that is interdisciplinary (at times, even anti-disciplinary) as well as cross-cultural.
The PhD program in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society (CSDS) is one of two graduate programs located in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature (CSCL), the other being the PhD program in Comparative Literature. Enrollment in the two programs totals 50 students. By admitting a maximum of four students per year, the CSDS program seeks to maintain a close-knit student body and a high level of interaction between students and faculty.
The CSDS faculty consists of fifteen members who are budgeted and housed in the program's home department, the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. In addition there are six faculty members from other academic departments at the University of Minnesota . All twenty-one faculty offer courses in our curriculum, serve as committee members, and advise graduate students.
A principal objective of the CSDS program is to prepare candidates for placement in an academic position, generally in disciplinary programs such as departments of national languages, film studies, gender studies, or the like. One major component of this preparation is our emphasis on training in pedagogy; all graduate students take CSDS 8901, Pedagogy of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, which focuses on developing skills and experience in teaching, fellowship application, placement, and other professional concerns. The program attempts to provide all PhD students with undergraduate instructional opportunities at both introductory and intermediate levels.