Politics, Culture, and Identity - Graduate Specialization

The graduate specialization in Politics, Culture and Identity (PCI) is a collaboration between the Departments of English and Political Science. The specialization builds on a series of existing courses, faculty research and teaching expertise, and student interest in the interdisciplinary study of politics through theories and methods that attend to interpretation, identity, and discourse.

The program is defined by three core commitments:

  1. Interdisciplinarity: The incorporation of research methods, theories, and forms of evidence from multiple disciplines within the humanities and social sciences
  2. Identity and difference: Examining race, gender, sexuality, ability, indigeneity, colonialism, and other forms of difference as foundational and constitutive themes
  3. Power, domination and social justice: An emphasis on forms of exploitation, domination, and resistance

The PCI specialization trains PhD students through cross-disciplinary seminars, dissertation advising, dissertation workshops and colloquia to develop methodological and theoretical tools to analyze political phenomena through culture, narrative and identity.

Participating faculty maintain interests in the convergence of culture, identity and politics–interdisciplinary work that locates cultural production in its political contexts; pays close attention to narrative, discourse, and identity; engages race, gender, disability, sexuality, indigeneity and nationhood; and uses the methods of cultural studies to interpret political events.

Selma James on Culture:

“Culture is plays and poetry about the exploited; ceasing to wear mini-skirts and taking to trousers instead; the clash between the soul of Black Baptism and the guilt and sin of white Protestantism. Culture is also the shrill of the alarm clock that rings at 6a.m. when a Black woman in London wakes her children to get them ready for the baby minder. Culture is how cold she feels at the bus stop and then how hot in the crowded bus. Culture is how you feel on Monday morning at eight when you clock in, wishing it was Friday, wishing your life away. Culture is the speed of the line or the weight and smell of dirty hospital sheets, and you meanwhile thinking what to make for tea that night.

Culture is making the tea while your man watches the news on the telly.

And culture is an ‘irrational woman’ walking out of the kitchen into the sitting room and without a word turning off the telly ‘for no reason at all.’”

 – Selma James (1975)