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. Please consult the CULP Writing Guide for more information.