Division of Languages and Literature

Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures

At Bard, the study of a foreign language provides students with the opportunity to acquire a critical appreciation of foreign cultures and literatures in addition to language skills. Integral to the process is the mastery of the foreign language and the use of this mastery in the study of written texts—not only literature, but also texts from such fields as philosophy, history, and theology—and of nonverbal expressions of culture such as art history, music, and cinema. 

Languages currently taught at Bard include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Bard maintains a state-of-the-art language facility, the Center for Foreign Languages and Cultures, at the F. W. Olin Language Center, which offers the Bard community many different ways to explore foreign languages and cultures outside the regular language and literature classes.

Most of the languages taught through the Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures (FLCL) Program offer an intensive format that allows students to complete the equivalent of one and a half years of language study within just a few months. Such courses include a one- or two-month summer or winter program in a country where the target language is spoken. After studying abroad, students demonstrate an impressive increase in linguistic capacity. They have also gained cultural knowledge, and the exposure to different manifestations of cultural activity makes them aware of the interrelatedness of diverse disciplines. Most students choose to continue their path toward linguistic and cultural fluency by taking courses at the intermediate and advanced levels.

While each area of language study has its own intellectual and academic plan, all are connected by the study of literature and other cultural expressions through the medium of language. Students are free to work with the languages and texts of more than one culture; thus they can combine the plans of more than one language for Moderation and in their Senior Project. Moderation requirements may vary depending on the focus language; students should refer to information provided by the specific area of study. For all FLCL students, a Senior Project can be a purely literary project (typically involving critical interpretation and translation) or any combination of literary and nonliterary expressions of a given culture.

Recent Senior Projects in Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures

  • “Bodies Inscribed in the Landscape: Poetic ‘Exhumations’ of Chile and Argentina’s Desaparecidos
  • “Love, Loss, and Liminality: Classical and Medieval Perspectives on Orpheus and Eurydice”
  • “Mexican Nationalism in Ignacio Manuel Altamirano’s Clemencia
  • “Questioning Authority: An Exploration of Montaigne and Borges”