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Area Studies and Foreign Philology


Area studies, as interdisciplinary fields of research, have assumed greater importance in the light of the growing need to understand the cultural differences that exist between nations. Area studies programs usually include subjects that are associated with humanistic disciplines. Foreign philology constitutes an important part of area studies. This may be attributed to the fact that area studies have their origin in the development of foreign literature and language. It is the intercultural dimension of foreign language learning that gains emphasis in the area studies programs.

Different fields may be defined within the area studies program. These fields are not absolute and may vary from university to university. However, some of the common fields of area studies include African studies, American studies, Latin American studies, Asian studies, European studies and Pacific studies.

The ways in which foreign philology is integrated in the different fields of the area studies program give us an insight into its present orientation.

 Courses offered by Princeton University

For instance, Princeton University, situated in New Jersey, US, offers both undergraduate as well as graduate courses in Hellenic studies.

Undergraduate program in H ellenic studies

The undergraduate program caters to the needs of those students interested “in the interdisciplinary study of the Greek world, ancient Byzantine or modern, as well as the classical tradition” (Princeton 1). The program includes language courses in “Modern Greek and postclassical Greek apart from the seminars in Hellenic studies, introductory courses in Byzantine and Modern Greek studies” (Princeton 1) with seminars in the relevant areas as well as senior thesis discussion group for the concentrators of the program.

Graduate program in classical and Hellenic studies

The Graduate Program in Classical and Hellenic Studies at the Princeton University has been developed for those students who are interested in

(1) the study of the transmission and reception of the classical tradition, or (2) the study of Greek language, literature, history, or culture in the Late Antique world, Byzantium, or modern Greece” (Princeton 1).

Furthermore, the graduate curriculum includes work on “classical languages, literature and history” (Princeton 1). Besides these, the students are allowed to choose between “Byzantine and the Modern Greek period” (Princeton 1).

The Russian, East European and Eurasian Center (REEEC) at the University of Illinois

The Russian, East European and Eurasian Center (REEEC) at the University of Illinois offer high quality graduate as well as undergraduate programs in Russian, East European, Eurasian and Balkan studies. Its programs include interdisciplinary undergraduate major and minor “as well as graduate certificate program in Russian, East European and Eurasian studies” (REEC 1).

B.A & M.A degree programs

The B.A and M.A degree programs in Russian, East European and Eurasian studies offered by the Illinois University are tailor-made to suit the varied needs of the students. These provide different approaches to the study of these interdisciplinary fields within the format of a single discipline. The students are exposed to the politics, history, languages, cultures and societies of these regions.

Instruction in the Illinois University is given in nine languages: “Bulgarian, Czech, German, Polish, Old Church Slavonic, Russian, Serbian-Croatian, Turkish and Ukrainian” (REEC 1).

Graduate Minor in Balkan Studies

The Graduate Minor in Balkan Studies is designed for those students who are interested in complementing their M.A or PhD program with an interdisciplinary study of the Balkan regions. The basic qualification for the students eager to pursue this program is “a minimum of two years of college-level study of a language of the region…Students must also submit a research paper primarily on the region” (REEC 1).

The department of Slavic and Eurasian studies, Duke university:

The University offers graduate programs in Russian literature and culture, Slavic linguistics and Eurasian studies.

The masters of art degree

The degree is given in “Russian literature, Slavic linguistics and Eurasian studies” (Slavic 1). Students who have undergone “four years, or equivalent of undergraduate courses, in Russian or any other Eurasian language will be eligible to do research in the original language” (Slavic 1). Additionally, reading knowledge of French or German is required.

Undergraduate program information

  • The undergraduate programs offer two majors and three minors. The majors include “a major in Russian language and culture and;
  • a major in Slavic and Eurasian Studies”. (Duke 1)

The minors include Russian culture and language, Russian literature in translation and Minor in Turkish studies.

The Department of European Studies at the San Diego State University

The emphasis on foreign philology in the Area Studies Program offered by various US universities becomes more prominent in the case of Central European Studies. For instance, the Department of European Studies at the San Diego State University offers ‘Majors in German’ incorporating different aspects of the German study that caters to the varied interests of the students.

B.A in German

The B.A program in German involves several upper-division German courses aimed at developing a proficiency in the German language among the students. Along with the German language, the students also undertake specialized courses in language for specific purposes, linguistics, literature, film, civilization and all the cultural areas where the language acquisition is put to use.


The basic requirements for the above course include, among other things,

a minor (or double major) in another field, and completion of an approved study abroad program in a German-speaking country consisting of at least six units/90 hours” (Rohan 1).

B.A in German with emphasis on German Studies

The B.A program in German with emphasis on German Studies offered by this university involves preparing the students in the German language while giving them an insight into the history, culture and societies of Germany as well as German- speaking central Europe.


Certain basic requirements must be fulfilled by the students willing to apply for the above post. International experience is not an essential prerequisite, but a highly desirable one.


To conclude, it may be said that the importance of foreign philology in the area studies program can be judged from its primordial function of bringing to the forefront the cultural differences that exist between different societies. It plays a key role in bringing the nations closer through better understanding and appreciation of the variety that exists and that cannot be ignored. The gradual transformation of the world into a small global village has forced the nations to come together and work in tandem for overall development. In this context, development of foreign languages and literature plays a crucial role. Hence, steps must be taken to encourage foreign language acquisition which will also enrich our literary and cultural world.

Works Cited

Duke. “Undergraduate Information”. 2010.

Princeton. “Undergraduate”. Web.

Rohan. “Major Program”. 2010.

REEC. Minor Students. REEEC.Edu. 2010.


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