Culture and Politics Major

Shiloh Krupar, Field Chair; Anthony Pirrotti, Curricular Dean
CULP Research & Curriculum

The Culture and Politics (CULP) major is an intellectually rigorous program that enables students to engage with questions of culture, knowledge, and power. Students will gain a complex understanding of these terms, their histories, and effects. We approach politics as mediated by cultural practices, and culture as suffused with power. Power is embedded in institutions and the social order, and conditions individual and collective action.

Since no single approach encompasses the relation between culture and politics, the CULP major stresses fluency in different theories, definitions, and genres of culture. Different analytical tools from a variety of fields allow students to practice critical self-reflection, understand the politics of interpretation, and enhance their theoretical sophistication.

CULP fosters an environment for critical inquiry, creative engagement, and collaborative learning. All majors take the foundational course, Theorizing Culture and Politics, and then go on to choose their own five-course sequence around their individually chosen concentration, in addition to three courses each from the social sciences and the humanities. The high degree of flexibility afforded to students requires them to become independent agents of knowledge capable of designing their own program of studies according to their individual interests and talents.


Goals of the Major

The CULP major is designed to provide students with a complex understanding of the relationship between culture, knowledge, and power. It aims to provide students with theoretical frameworks and analytical skills that enhance cross-cultural tolerance, social justice, and ethical leadership, in order to make a difference in a world marked by power hierarchies and cultural conflicts. Students learn to apply analytical tools from multiple fields as they practice critical reflection on self and society, and enhance their analytic sophistication through collaborative problem solving.

The CULP major offers great individual flexibility. Students build a rigorous foundation for their studies through an in-depth gateway course that stresses fluency in a variety of theories, definitions, and genres of culture. Students then go on to assemble their own course sequence around individually chosen concentrations, in consultation with their mentor or dean. All students are expected to master the analytical methods and skills necessary to become thoughtful, rigorous readers and writers of scholarship on cultural power relations in the international arena.

CULP students are actively involved in publishing their own scholarship, linking up with such Georgetown programs as the Center for Justice and Peace and the Mortara Center for events and speakers; student groups such as the Critical Theory Society; and utilizing the rich cultural and social resources of Washington, DC.


Objectives of the Major

The contemporary world is characterized by extensive cultural contacts that enhance connections, but also pose new challenges to acting responsibly and sensitively to the unfamiliar. Cultural competence and diplomacy are central to the peaceful functioning of a global system marked by deep, historically grown inequalities. Preparing students to treat opposing viewpoints and experiences with respect, CULP fosters a sophisticated and informed understanding of cultural diversity and the politics of identity. To prepare students for unforeseen conflicts and opportunities, they will be educated to do the following:

  • Identify, compare, and synthesize the key concepts and scholarly research in cultural and social theory across multiple disciplines—including history, anthropology, sociology, geography, literature, music, performing arts, film and new media, visual studies—that address the connections between power, culture, and identity.
  • Explicate, evaluate, and critique cross-cultural political issues, dynamics, and events in clear, concise writing.
  • Recognize multiple perspectives and dimensions of cultural interactions, and apply critical frameworks to competing claims to rights and recognition.
  • Develop the substantive, analytical and ethical skills necessary to question stereotypical, polarizing, and essentialist views of difference, as a precondition for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the domestic and international realm.
  • Understand and apply an expansive concept of culture that empowers ordinary people, organizations, and institutions as agents of change.

Students in the Honors program will further develop these abilities and their research and writing skills, and will produce theses comparable in quality and depth to many Master’s theses.


Writing in the Culture and Politics Major

The Culture and Politics major develops students’ writing skills in the gateway course Theorizing Culture and Politics, as well as in upper-division courses that provide opportunities for conducting and presenting original research.  Some eligible CULP majors opt to write an Honors Thesis that proposes an original research question, surveys the existing literature on a topic related to culture and politics, and matches the appropriate methodology (quantitative or qualitative) to the research project.

Because CULP is an interdisciplinary major, there is not one methodology or genre that students must master.  The self-designed concentration may require a combination of discipline-specific methodologies that may be housed in the School of Foreign Service or the College.  The gateway course teaches the fundamentals of strong academic writing, which progresses from summarizing, and comparing and contrasting, to evaluating primary sources (be they cultural artifacts, historical texts, or theoretical writings).  Through carefully scaffolded assignments, students advance from primarily descriptive genres like the academic précis and the encyclopedia entry to more synthetic, interpretive papers.  These can range from analyzing a film or studying maps to providing historiographies or critical guided tours of specific places.  In addition, students learn to consider secondary sources that allow the writer to judge the merits of different viewpoints and position her or himself within a debate.  More advanced courses prepare students to generate research questions and devise plans to test and prove a hypothesis, in order to produce new knowledge.


Honors in the Major

The standards and expectations for honors-quality work are consistent with the ideal that students completing Honors in the Major are among the premier thinkers and writers at Georgetown.



In order to graduate with honors in Culture and Politics, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Submit, and gain approval for, a thesis proposal outlining the research project.
  • Successfully complete two semesters of tutorial work dedicated to preparation of the thesis.
  • Submit a senior thesis on an approved topic which is judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee appointed for this purpose.


Application Deadline

Research proposals are due on March 18, 2016 by 5pm. Thesis proposals may be submitted in person or by e-mail, fax or snail mail to Dean Pirrotti.


Completed Theses Deadline

Completed honors theses are due by 5pm on April 15th of senior year.


Defining A Culture and Politics Research Question

Consider a question that is centrally focused on the intersection of Culture and Politics (see our CULP Mission Statement).

Your research should make a meaningful contribution to our understanding of the relation of Culture and Politics.

For example choose a topic that you have discovered in scholarly literature which you want to explore in more detail, or a topic that emerges from theoretically sophisticated reflections on your own experiences.

Beginning with your initial proposal, you will need to be in regular conversation with your faculty mentor about your project. This may include periodic progress reports required by the CULP Honors Committee.

Define a clear and coherent theoretical framework in which to explore your topic. It is ideal if you have taken a social science research methods course prior to application.  If this is not possible, you will need to work closely with a faculty member to develop a coherent framework.

View a sample honors thesis proposal


Institutional Review Board Approval

If any part of your research design involves research involving other people (interviews, surveys, etc.) and you think that you might want to publish the results of this research in the future in an article, book, report, or other document that can be consulted by the general public, you must go through the IRB review process before your application.


Tips for choosing a Faculty Mentor

Many professors do not respond to e-mail inquiries as quickly as students wish they would. Before you email a professor you have never met:

  • Develop a list of potential research questions (see “defining the question”);
  • Read the professor’s own work on the topic;
  • Identify sources you might utilize

To increase your chances of receiving a helpful and timely response, frame your initial message to a potential mentor with care.  You need to show that you have already given your thesis question thought, and are now looking to the professor for guidance.

  • Introduce yourself and explain why you are writing and how you discovered that this professor might be the right mentor for your project.
  • Outline your research question(s) and the reasoning behind them. If you know your proposed project will require special skills (language ability, experience with statistics, etc.) make sure to tell the professor that you possess them. If you have already drafted a proposal, include it.
  • Describe briefly the research you have already done.
  • Ask for specific information. Has this question already been answered in the literature? Are there enough resources locally to complete this project? Would it be better to approach this question from another angle? Does the professor have colleagues at Georgetown or elswhere who might be helpful?
  • Explain the timeline – ask if the professor could get back to you in a given time frame. You may want to offer to call the professor during office hours if a personal conversation would be more useful than an e-mail exchange. If you have only a few weeks to develop your proposal, acknowledge that you are starting late, and ask whether the professor would be able to read a draft and provide comments soon enough for you to submit the final proposal on time.
  • Do not expect the professor to agree to be your mentor until you have given him or her an actual proposal.


CULP Requirements

The requirements for the Culture and Politics major are as follows:
  • CULP-045: Theorizing Culture and Politics
  • 3 courses from Field I: Humanities (from current/past CULP lists)
  • 3 courses from Field II: Social Sciences (from current/past CULP lists)
  • 5 courses from relevant departments selected by students in consultation with the CULP Curricular Dean to reflect the student’s thematic interest.
  • Beginning with the Class of 2015, all CULP majors must have completed one designated ‘Research Methods Course’ as part of the 12 course CULP major requirement.

Major Declaration Essay Samples

Sample #1

Sample #2

CULP Faculty


CULP Courses

For more information on a course being offered, click on the title of the course.

Fall 2016

Spring 2016

CULP Research Methods Courses

CULP-271 Bodies, Technology, & Violence

CULP-337 Geopolitics:Popltn Iss in EU

CULP-345 Detouring the Global City

CULP-348 TheOther:Immigrant Integration


CULP Humanities Courses

AMST-208 The Hollywood Blacklist

ANTH-120 Visual Anthro:Ways of Seeing

ARAB-320 Arab Film

ARTH-140 Modern Art

ARTH-465 Modern Art in Asia

CHIN-352 Imgs of Women: Cont Chin Film

CULP-271 Bodies, Technology, & Violence

CULP-345 Detouring the Global City

ENGL-175 American Lit 1900-present

ENGL-187 Post 9/11 Culture

ENGL-197 Postcolonial Novel

ENGL-203 Black Women Writers

ENGL-207 Asian Am & the Public Sphere

ENGL-216 Jewish American Literature

ENGL-226 Witness Literature

ENGL-227 African American Poetry

ENGL-231 Intro to Visual Literature

ENGL-250 Intro to Film

ENGL-256 Documentary

ENGL-268 Disability and the Arts

FMST-345 Experimental Film & Media

FMST-399 CBL:Social Justice Documentary

FREN-431 Anthropology of French Food

GERM-325 Dramatic Voices:German Drama

GERM-403 Ich und Welt:Mod. Germ. Lit.

INAF-290 Jewish American Literature

INAF-291 The Israeli Novel

ITAL-394 Ital Amer Lang/Lit/Film

JAPN-365 Modern Japanese Short Stories

JAPN-412 Japanese Anime Film

JAPN-418 Kurosawa: A History in Film

JCIV-290 Jewish American Literature

JCIV-291 The Israeli Novel

MUSC-115 Music in Multicultural World

MUSC-328 Special Topics:Music as Labor

PORT-261 Lusophone Literature & Writing

PORT-331 Brazilian Cinema

RUSS-386 Love Meets History in Russ Lit

SPAN-237 Cultural Hist Span Painting

SPAN-267 Lit & Society in Lat Amer

SPAN-268 Latin American Film

SPAN-341 Hispanic Cinema

SPAN-398 Central Amer Lit, Film & Music

SPAN-399 Lat AM Boom (In English)

THEO-180 Buddhism and Film


CULP Social Sciences Courses

AFAM-210 Black Power & Theo of Liberatn

AFAM-225 Race, Policy, & Administration

ANTH-170 Commerce Across Cultures

ANTH-180 Urban Legends/Moral Panics/Myt

ANTH-205 Justice and Media

ANTH-252 Global Race in Motion

ANTH-256 Disability & Culture

ANTH-320 The Ethnographic Imagination

ANTH-342 Masculinities

ANTH-363 Anthropology and Islam

ANTH-392 African Feminism Re-Imagined

CATH-225 Ecology & Cath Social Thought

CULP-337 Geopolitics:Popltn Iss in EU

CULP-348 TheOther:Immigrant Integration

GOVT-226 Religion & American Politics

GOVT-240 Politics of Inequality

GOVT-276 Human Rights Intrnl Rel

GOVT-303 Topics: Urban Politics

GOVT-329 Dep’t Sem:Women & Politics

GOVT-342 Dept Sem:Pol of Social Welfare

GOVT-372 Dept Sem:Imagining Europe

GOVT-379 Dept Sem:Interstellar Politics

GOVT-398 Dept Sem:Human Rights btw E&W

GOVT-439 Dept Sem:Global Climate Change

GOVT-440 Dept Sem:Marxism in 20th Cent.

GOVT-457 Philosophies of Liberation

HIST-200 Anthropocene:Nature & Humans

HIST-209 The Atomic Age

HIST-229 How SouthAsia Shaped the World

HIST-297 Freedm Struggles:Afr. Diaspora

HIST-349 Rise of Individualism Europe

HIST-358 Mexico:Revol to Globalization

HIST-365 Society/Politics Modern Turkey

HIST-367 Muslim Women & the West

HIST-372 Topic: Nation/Soc Russ Culture

HIST-389 Conservatism in the U.S.

HIST-422 Migration & State in S.E. Asia

HIST-432 Popular Culture E Modern Europ

HIST-481 American Revolution

INAF-165 Holocaust:Destruction of Jews

INAF-264 American Secularism

INAF-297 Horn of Africa: Cult. & Pol.

INAF-343 Gender in the Pacific

INAF-352 Religion & Democratization

INAF-355 Refugees in Internatnl Relatns

INAF-396 Soc Change:Sub-Saharan Africa

INAF-397 Muslim Women & the West

INAF-412 Social Policy in Europe

INAF-432 Islam & Women

INAF-438 Religion, Ethcs,& Wrld Affairs

JUPS-300 Social Movements

JUPS-302 Peace & Justice Thesis Tutoria

LING-283 Language & Society

LING-333 Cross-Cultural Communication

LING-343 Women, Men, and Language

LING-380 Language & Politics

PHIL-113 Ethics: Just Wars

PHIL-115 Ethics: Oppression & Justice

PHIL-124 Ethics:The Environment

PHIL-155 Philosophy of Film

PHIL-175 Philosophy of Race

PHIL-176 Philosophy of Music

PSYC-241 Psychology of Gender

PSYC-249 Cognition, Culture, & Justice

SOCI-133 Race, Society & Cinema

SOCI-144 Race & Ethnic Relations

SOCI-157 Global Power Elites

SOCI-164 Japanese Society

SOCI-165 Sociology of the Middle East

SOCI-171 Culture and Consumption

SOCI-178 Capitalism:Culture,Markts,Powr

SOCI-197 Transnational Crime

SOCI-209 The City/Urban Studies

SOCI-220 CBL:Global Inequalities

SOCI-220 Global Inequalities

SOCI-223 Public Housing:Theory/Practice

SOCI-244 Engaging Diff. Race Ethnicity

SPAN-396 Spanish Sociolinguistics

THEO-046 Religion in America

THEO-050 Islamic Thought & Practice

THEO-084 Theology and Sexuality

THEO-089 Problem of Evil

THEO-099 Rel in American Political Life

WGST-201 Feminist Thought 2

WGST-224 Labor/Sexuality/Globalization

WGST-238 Gender, Race, and Feminism

WGST-239 Art, Medicine, and Gender

WGST-251 Women and the Law

WGST-266 Women in Amer Politics

WGST-350 Gender and Sustainability

CULP Courses – Fall 2015


CULP Research Methods Courses

ANTH-310 Doing Anthro Fieldwork

CULP-358 Cartography and Social Justice

CULP-421 Postcolonial Museum

ENGL-250 US Film History & Technology


CULP Humanities Courses

ARTH-171 Buddhist Art

ARTH-442 Body & Gender in 19th Cent Art

CLSS-223 Roman Sexuality

CULP-282 Wrld Lit w/Religious Dimension

CULP-421 Postcolonial Museum

ENGL-130 Global 18C Lit & Culture

ENGL-152 Victorian Lit & Globalization

ENGL-179 Amer. Women’s Autobiography

ENGL-209 Native American Lit

ENGL-233 Pop Culture

ENGL-242 Literary Representns: The City

ENGL-250 US Film History & Technology

ENGL-254 Television & Amer. Society

ENGL-266 Intro:Environmental Humanities

ENGL-406 Race, Law, & Lit

ENGL-443 Gender&Authority in 20C Poetry

FMST-355 Documentary Film:Hist & Theory

FREN-437 Food and the French Empire

FREN-454 African Self-Perceptions

GERM-167 Liebe,Lust,Und Leidenschaft

GERM-384 20th Century Theater

GERM-393 Writing Our Selves

INAF-236 Holocaust Voices:Autobiography

INAF-291 The Israeli Novel

ITAL-358 Literature of United Italy

JAPN-411 Japanese Literature in Film

JCIV-236 Holocaust Voices:Autobiography

JCIV-291 The Israeli Novel

MAAS-518 Culture & Society:Arab World

MUSC-265 Music and Television

MUSC-268 Music & Dance in America

PERS-364 Iranian Cinema & Culture

PHIL-165 Political Emotions

PORT-261 Lusophone Literature & Writing

PORT-360 Studies in Brazil Civil/Cult

RUSS-380 Terrorism/Ethnic Strife in Lit

RUSS-441 Tolstoy:Lit of Love & Life

SPAN-267 Lit & Society in Lat America

SPAN-341 Hispanic Cinema

SPAN-350 Spanish Women Writers

SPAN-375 Lat Amer Historical Novel

SPAN-385 Caribbean Lit, Film & Music

TPST-200 Adaptation/Performance of Lit

TPST-230 American Drama


CULP Social Sciences Courses

AFAM-140 Blacks and Jews in America

AFAM-206 Race & Racism in Amer. Cult

AMST-382 Advertising & Social Change

ANTH-215 Anthro & Youth Culture

ANTH-240 African Cultural Modernities

ANTH-250 Intro: Medical Anthropology

ANTH-260 South Asia & The World

ANTH-280 Urban Anthropology

ANTH-356 The New Black Atlantic

ANTH-495 Anthropological Theory

CULP-337 Geopolitics:Popltn Iss in EU

CULP-358 Cartography and Social Justice

CULP-421 Postcolonial Museum

GOVT-245 Ethnicity, Race & Nation

GOVT-249 Terr & Borders in Glbl Affairs

GOVT-303 Topics:Politics of Protest

GOVT-312 Dept Sem:EU Identity/Globalizt

GOVT-313 Dept Sem:Relgn,Ethcs,Wrld Afrs

GOVT-325 Dept Sem:Children/Pol/Pub Pol

GOVT-359 Dept Sem:Islam/Democracy

GOVT-376 Dept Sem:Glbzn & Redst:Dev Cou

GOVT-381 Dept Sem:Virtue & Violence

GOVT-452 Dept Sem:Third World Politics

GOVT-460 Ethical Iss Intrnl Reltns

GOVT-464 Origins:Arab-Israeli Conflict

GOVT-475 American Political Culture

GOVT-495 Christian Political Theology

GOVT-499 Dpt Sem:Multiculturalism

HIST-292 US Women’s History

HIST-333 Religion & State in The West

HIST-338 Consumption/Society Since 1750

HIST-345 European Fascism

HIST-352 Topic: Cuba The US & The World

HIST-372 Topic:Minority Nations in USSR

HIST-407 Approaches to the Modern City

INAF-199 Intro to Jewish Civ

INAF-229 Images of Australian Ntnhood

INAF-236 Holocaust Voices:Autobiography

INAF-294 Environment in Africa

INAF-314 Immigration & Conflict

INAF-357 African Politics/Governments

INAF-372 Refugees: Arab World

INAF-420 Muslms & NonMus Minority in ME

INAF-423 Pol of Intrl Religious Freedom

INAF-430 Islam in Africa

INAF-438 Religion, Ethcs,& Wrld Affairs

INAF-488 Future of Islam/Politics in ME

INAF-498 Islam/Women/Social Change

JCIV-199 Intro to Jewish Civ

JCIV-236 Holocaust Voices:Autobiography

JCIV-268 Never to Forget: The Holocaust

KREN-341 Gend&Sexlty:KorCltr(English)

LASP-487 Indig Movemts of Lat Amer

LASP-491 Poverty,WellBeing,Socl Exclusn

LING-283 Language & Society

LING-333 Cross-Cultural Communication

LING-343 Women, Men, and Language

PHIL-112 Ethics: Gender and Feminism

PHIL-113 Ethics: Just Wars

PHIL-124 Ethics:The Environment

PHIL-129 Ethics: Global Justice

PHIL-163 Language & Power

PHIL-180 Philosophy & Star Trek

PSYC-347 Moral Psychology

PSYC-347 Spec Top:Cltrl Neuropsychology

SOCI-132 Immigrants and New Societies

SOCI-136 Religion & Society

SOCI-139 Race, Color, Culture

SOCI-155 Social Movements

SOCI-157 Global Power Elites

SOCI-161 Sociology of Gender

SOCI-163 Education and Society

SOCI-191 Interpersonal Violence

SOCI-195 Sociology of Terrorism

SOCI-222 Gentrification/Justice/Cities

SOCI-227 Economy & Society in East Asia

SOCI-249 Family & Gender in Japan

SOCI-310 Religion & Globalization

SPAN-339 Religion/Pol/Ethics in Spain

SPAN-396 Spanish Sociolinguistics

THEO-081 Justice & Social Ethics Today

THEO-084 Theology and Sexuality

THEO-096 Latino Church Doing Justice

THEO-102 Pilgrimage, Travel, & Tourism

THEO-122 The Church & the Poor

THEO-134 Jews/Judaism in World of Islam

THEO-141 Virtues and Social Justice

THEO-157 Religion and Violence

THEO-179 Pol of Gender:World Religions

WGST-200 Feminist Thought I

WGST-222 Reltnshp Vlnce &Sexual Assault

WGST-231 Sexual Politics in Arab World

WGST-233 Gender, Sexuality, AIDS

WGST-260 Violence/Gender/Human Rights

WGST-266 Women in Amer Politics


Past Semester Course Lists