Cultural Studies

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Cultural Studies Overview

Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary major that examines issues of race, ethnicity, class, and culture. Drawing on social, cultural, and literary theories, this major introduces methods of interpretation for the analysis of cultural objects in their social contexts. You will learn to apply contemporary theory in your critical analysis of literature, film, and other cultural narratives. You'll explore topics central to the University’s mission in a focused, sustained manner that unlocks new sources of pride and power for communities marginalized in our systems of power, resource, and cultural representation. And you'll study and contribute to the deep work through which those communities articulate their experience—as environmental activist Native Americans, as feminist Muslim Americans, as transgender visual artists, etc.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
Program School

Cultural Studies is the place where critical and creative study of textual perceptions meets the faces and facts of social experience, so as to generate deepened forms of justice, truth, and beauty.

—KAREN S. KINGSBURY, professor of humanities and Asian studies

Alumna Profile: Ciera Marie Young ‘14

Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, Ciera Marie Young ’14 got some mixed messages.  Her father told her that she could be the first in her family to get a college education, but people in her neighborhood made it clear that she needed to be thinking about looking good, about getting married. 

Explore the Cultural Studies Degree:

A required core of courses provides students with the tools necessary to analyze representations of culture. The electives allow students the opportunity to focus on an aspect of the field that meets their particular interests.

  • All students complete a capstone seminar that channels the knowledge they’ve accumulated into a discipline-specific project under close faculty guidance.
  • If you choose to pursue a minor in African American studies, you will delve even deeper into the history, culture, politics, religion, and literature of the African Diaspora—the communities created by the dispersion of peoples from the African continent.
  • Chatham is walking distance to many of Pittsburgh’s cultural institutions and organizations, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Music Hall, and the Frick Fine Arts Museum.

Representations of Race and Gender

This course introduces students to the methodology of cultural studies. In this survey, students learn those skills essential to analyzing social constructions of identity. Specific attention is paid to diverse texts, including film, in order to locate how representations of race, gender, ethnicity, and “otherness” are culturally produced and disseminated.

Critical Theory

Critical theory offers a critical study of the key debates in theories of media and communication interfaced with cultural studies. This course also examines the communication circuit from production to consumption within the broader paradigms of cultural studies, feminism, politics of identity, and theories of ideology and postmodernism. Connections are made between these debates and wider debates in communication studies.

Toni Morrison Seminar

This seminar is a study of Toni Morrison’s literature within the context of African-American critical theory. Through Morrison’s work, students will engage in current issues regarding the politics of language, narrative authority, historical revision, the production of meaning, and African-American subjectivity.

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Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty
Prajna Paramita Parasher
Professor, Chair, Arts, Design and Communication and Program Director, Film and Digital Technology and Interdisciplinary Design
Alexandra Reznik
Assistant Professor & Women’s and Gender Studies Major and Minor Coordinator

Film and Culture

Just Films is an annual series that shows documentaries focused on gender equity and social justice, usually being shown in Pittsburgh for the first time.

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Learning Resources

Students benefit from the resources of the Chatham University Women’s Institute, which provides opportunities including programming, a certificate in Women’s Leadership, and involvement in community initiatives.

International Certificate Program

Students can enhance their degree with a certificate in international studies in one of five major global regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. The certificate includes a language requirement, history and culture courses, and an international field experience. Certificate students are eligible for additional study abroad funding.