Bachelor of Arts in European Cultural Studies

Ever wonder what constitutes “culture?” Would you like to study both European literature and the artistic, social, political and historical contexts in which it was created? If so, the European Cultural Studies degree program is for you. Our program focuses on the study of European literature across time and across boundaries while encouraging you to delve into its interrelationship with music, painting, philosophy and other arts.

As an ECS major, you will customize your major to suit your academic interests, whether they lie in Greek tragedy or German Romanticism, French Postmodernism or the Holocaust. At the same time, you will supplement your area of focus with other cultural humanities courses. Our course offerings range from ancient Greek mythology to Jewish theory, so you can really tailor your degree to the region and period you choose while gaining exposure to a wide range of movements in European thought and culture.

In the end, you will understand how literature and the arts express and preserve the ways in which a culture interprets the world. More specifically, you will have gained an understanding of European civilization and its place in the global context.

Our graduates have gone on to pursue research in the humanities, enter the legal and public service fields and join global companies.

Academics and Research

Interdisciplinary Work

The ECS program is designed to offer you broad exposure to different modes of cultural production, including literature, film, theatre and visual art. You will take comparative literature seminars and European literature courses. You will also be encouraged to select electives in other art forms and in a range of departments and programs across Brandeis’ thriving Division of Humanities. You will shape your major based on your own interests and goals in consultation with faculty from many departments and within ECS.

Exciting Collaborations

The Center for German and European Studies

A frequent collaborator with ECS, CGES supports interdisciplinary teaching and research on contemporary Germany and Europe and the social, political and cultural issues facing them today. The center hosts lectures from visiting scholars and offers a variety of opportunities for you to enrich your study, including travel and research grants.

Given the flexibility of the ECS program, many of our students double-major, most commonly in German studies.

The Mandel Center for the Humanities

This exciting center offers interdisciplinary undergraduate courses that attract students from all majors in the humanities and beyond. The center also hosts conferences lectures, films and other events that explore major themes of human experience.

Beyond the Classroom

Lecture Series

Each semester, we invite a renowned scholar to campus to present his or her work to students and faculty during our Dessert Lecture Series. Recent topics have ranged from the American Civil War to Dostoevsky’s Concept of Unity.

Study Abroad

ECS majors are encouraged to seek learning beyond Brandeis. You can spend a summer or semester studying in another country. Barcelona, Edinburgh, Freie Universität Berlin, Oxford and the University of Freiburg have been frequent study abroad hot-spots for ECS students in the past.

Faculty and Student Excellence

Distinguished Faculty

Our highly productive yet accessible faculty are dedicated teachers from across the spectrum of disciplines in the liberal arts:

  • Stephen Dowden, director of ECS, is a scholar of on German literature, art, and intellectual history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. He has published work on Kafka, Celan and the questions of modernism, among other topics. In 2016 he was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Innsbruck.

  • Nancy Scott is a leading scholar in both American and European Modernism and a professor in the Fine Arts department. She has received awards from the Leon Levy Senior Fellowship, the Frick Collection, and the Pro Helvetia award from Swiss Foundation for the Arts. She recently published "Critical Lives: Georgia O'Keeffe" (Reaktion Books) and is currently working on another book, about J.M.W. Turner and abolitionism.

  • Palle Yourgrau’s research interests range from Plato and Aristotle to Frege’s philosophy of language to Simone Weil. He recently published a book on Weil (Lijiang Publishing House) and the chapter “When Time Turned Into Space” for a special issue of the journal SpazioFilosophico.

Senior Thesis

As an ECS major, you may choose to pursue honors by writing a thesis in your senior year.

Graduate Study and Careers

Graduate Study

With a major in European Cultural Studies, you’ll be well prepared to pursue graduate fields in many European language literatures, philosophy, art history and criticism or film studies.


Our alumni have gone on to pursue graduate work in history, politics, English, international studies and other fields. Others have pursued careers in law, business and the arts.