Languages, Cultures, & Literatures (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Latin, Russian)

Languages, Cultures, and Literatures (LCL) is a department that houses language instruction in modern and classical languages and offers students the opportunity to explore the cultures and literary and visual expression associated with the circulation and influence of these languages in the world. There are also degrees in Languages (emphasis on multiple languages) and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies.

We offer instruction in the following areas:

Our degree programs and courses promote the cross-cultural awareness and critical skills necessary for students to understand their own place within global culture. We train advanced students in literary and cultural criticism, as well as in language teaching, preparing them for careers as educators and, more generally, as professionals adept in cross-cultural communication. Faculty conduct research in multiple fields, from Japanese food manga, to the French and African travels of Jazz, to Rome on the Big Screen, to literary memory of the Holocaust, to aspects of language learning.

LCL is a portal to world cultures. Traveling through that portal reveals that cultures evolve in relation to each other. They borrow, imitate, steal, transfer and co-create both artistic works and ostensibly separate cultural identity. In LCL, students can learn about the intersections of cultures and the ways that peoples rely on claims about cultural traditions in their encounters with others. Courses and degree programs in LCL allow students to explore transnational cinema, colonial and postcolonial novels, comics and anime, mythology, folk and fairy tales, women’s writing around the world, connections between the past and the present. Topics for courses in cultural study include damned heroes and the Faustian bargain, global food-ways, witches, vampires, migration, apocalypse, Russian ideas of terrorism, trauma and cultural memory, the European discovery of the New World, Ancient Rome in contemporary media, conflict and liberation in African literature and film.

There are many reasons to study languages, cultures, and literatures from across the globe. Maybe you want to connect more deeply to your heritage, maybe you are interested in working internationally, or maybe you love literature and want to understand how linguistic differences shape writing styles. LCL can help you reach these goals. Additionally, there are major benefits to studying languages and world cultures including:

  • People who know more than one language have better executive brain function than monolinguals, such as better focus, memory, and a better understanding of symbolic representation.
  • An ability to speak multiple languages and communicate across cultural boundaries is a definite plus when searching for career opportunities. With an increasingly globally cosmopolitan population within the United States and abroad, the need for working knowledge in other languages is essential in both private and government sectors.
  • Majoring the Humanities pays, off, and Foreign Languages majors tend to be the top-paid liberal arts majors. At peak earning ages (56 - 60 years old), Humanities majors make more than those with professional and pre-professional majors like nursing or business.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but offers a glimpse into what studying a language can do for you. LCL offers a world of possibilities to the student who wishes to explore languages, literatures, and cultures. With over 15 majors, minors, and languages available, every student interested in pursuing careers in business, government, teaching or travel will find a home in LCL. In addition to language proficiency and intercultural communication, the program in Comparative Literature & Cultural Studies provides students with an interdisciplinary approach to literature and culture, utilizing critical tools and theories from diverse perspectives.

LCL is strongly committed to study abroad as a means of invaluable training in global citizenship. To this end, we work closely with the Global Education Office, which oversees study abroad programs for UNM students. Additionally, LCL sponsors a two-and-a-half-week trip to France in the summer, with financial aid available. For more information on the summer trip to France, please contact Professor Stephen Bishop ( The department also offers a separate scholarship for study abroad for French or Francophone studies.

Areas of Study

Arabic: Arabic is a language with a rich intellectual and literary heritage, and has been a dynamic resource for political and cultural expression from pre-Islamic times to the present. Arabic is considered a Critical Language by the U.S. State Department and opens up job opportunities in many career fields. Studying Arabic provides students with the skills to analyze a wide variety of political, social, religious, and cultural contexts from the Middle East and North Africa to Arab diaspora communities across the world. The UNM Arabic program offers courses at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels that focus on developing students' linguistic competence via culturally-situated contexts and cross-cultural comparisons. Our instructors regularly win teaching awards, both institutionally and nationally.

Available as a minor

Asian Studies: Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary program that brings together the resources and faculty of various departments at the University of New Mexico relating to Asia. The UNM Asian Studies program fosters a unique understanding relating to the global village from a perspective that consists of historical and daily experiences of Asian countries and their diverse cultures through courses in History, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Anthropology, Geography, Languages, Political Science, and more. Employers in a variety of industries, including local or international business, education, non-profits, and government organizations, seek out qualified graduates who have personal and professional intercultural understanding and skills developed in an Asian Studies program.  

Available as a minor

ChineseOur Chinese program is for students who want to expand their scope of knowledge to comprehend a modern language that lives through 3000 years. The Chinese program offers Mandarin courses at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, which integrate training in listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Through a rigorous training of both spoken and written Chinese, students are expected to be able to communicate with Chinese native speakers, to understand its culture and society in various aspects, as well as to read general topics written in Chinese. Chinese is considered a Critical Language by the U.S. State Department and is one of the most desirable languages in today's job market. 

There are also cultural courses taught in English, available to the general student body at UNM. For students who want to advance their Chinese studies with a cultural immersion experience by studying abroad, the UNM-Sichuan University exchange program is one valuable opportunity. There is even a tuition-free summer option, where students need only pay for their airfare.

Available as a minor or as a degree - B.A. East Asian Studies - Chinese

Classical Studies: Whether you dream of reading Homer or Vergil in the original or want to understand how ancient Greece and Rome continue to exert a powerful influence upon contemporary cultures, Classical Studies offers a comprehensive program of classical languages, cultures, and traditions with several options to choose from.

The major features two concentrations: 1. Students who wish to engage in a variety of approaches and disciplines (such as History, Art History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies) choose the Civilization concentration; 2. Students whose main focus is to read classical works in the original Greek or Latin choose the Languages concentration. There are also minors in Classical Studies, Greek, and Latin. Students who wish to pursue graduate study in the Classics are advised to choose the Languages concentration.

Study of the ancient world offers both intellectual and practical benefits. Many of our majors and minors pursue either a career in law, medicine, library science, popular fiction, Foreign Service, finance, or graduate study at the postgraduate level, and more. 

Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies are available as minors
There are two options for the B.A. degree in Classical Studies: Civilization or Languages

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies: The Program in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies is an international, translinguistic, and transdisciplinary major offering a B.A. (as a first or second major) and a minor. The program fosters intellectually engaged, self-motivated, and creative thinkers who are willing to take risks and pursue unexpected and critically sophisticated projects. Students in the program design their field of study based on the broad array of courses in languages and cultures offered. Further, with a legitimate intellectual rationale provided by the student with help from (with the help of the major advisor), virtually any course might be considered as part of the major. You can choose from a Comparative Literature or Cultural Studies concentration for your degree.

Comparative Literature: Comparative Literature examines cultural traditions comparatively, underscoring forces that create similarities and differences across, among others, transnational, ethnic, historical, and linguistic boundaries. Comparatists generally work in at least two languages and, using carefully articulated theoretical approaches, often work across media as well. Students divide their course work evenly between literatures or cultural works associated with two different linguistic traditions.

Cultural Studies: Cultural Studies examines the relationships of power developed, registered and disseminated by literary and cultural works. Students often (but not exclusively) focus on popular forms of expression (television series, musical forms, street art, etc.). Increasingly, cultural studies has approached questions of race, gender, sex, class, and nation within various forms of human expression. Students divide their course work evenly between the study of theories and approaches to culture, on the one hand, and study of a field of their own, which they identify in consultation with their advisor.

East Asian Studies: East Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary program bringing together the resources and faculty of various departments at the University of New Mexico relating to China and Japan. The program facilitates undergraduate major and minor courses of study, supports special courses and lectures with Chinese and Japanese content, and provides scholarships for students wishing to further their Chinese and Japanese language proficiency. East Asian Studies also emphasizes understanding the global village concept from the perspective of historical and everyday experiences of Chinese and Japanese countries and cultures. 

Students majoring in East Asian Studies choose one of two options, Chinese or Japanese, but all students take at least one course in the other concentration to get some sense of the shared history, philosophy, language, or culture of the region. This is a great degree for students interested in pursuing careers in business, government, teaching or travel.

There are two options for the B.A. degree in East Asian Studies: Chinese orJapanese

French: Our program offers students access to the global French-speaking world and its histories, philosophies, cinemas, and other aesthetic forms. As a fundamentally international discipline, the major in French encourages a range of objects of study and a number of critical approaches, emphasizing gender and sexuality, postcolonial studies, economic and social theory, among others. In addition, numerous departmental activities such as the French Club, summer trips to France, film screenings, lectureships and field trips, bring together faculty and students in rich intellectual and social environments. The department also encourages various programs of study abroad that will enhance students' awareness of French and Francophone cultures. 

Our undergraduate program develops students' language proficiency within a cultural and communicative context. The major and minor promote the understanding of the intellectual, literary and cultural heritages of the French speaking world through a broad range of courses in French and Francophone literature, culture and cinema. Drawing on critical and analytical tools from a variety of intellectual traditions, and using an interdisciplinary and cultural studies approach, our upper division courses provide a comprehensive training in French and Francophone studies. Students majoring in French will have fluency in the language and one or many of the cultural traditions it houses. Just as importantly, they will be able to function effectively across linguistic and cultural boundaries—a skill increasingly in demand in a world demanding adaptation and nimble thinking. 

Available as a B.A. degree or minor

German: Starting with Basic German that assumes no prior knowledge of the language, we offer undergraduate courses all the way to upper-division courses that focus on advanced topics in German literature, film, and culture. Students who graduate from the German program at UNM will learn to express themselves fluently and confidently in the German language, successfully navigate the cultural environments of German-speaking countries, and become perceptive readers, listeners, and viewers of German texts, films, and other media. We offer courses on such diverse themes as sickness, insanity, and transgression in German literature and film, terrorism, fairy tales, and memory culture in literature and critical thought.

Students have the chance to participate in a full immersion program every summer in Kingston, NM. The intensive nature of this program, including interaction with visiting scholars and teachers from across the U.S., Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, often enables students to advance an entire level in the course of one full session. Scholarships are available.

Available as a B.A. degree or minor

Japanese: In addition to helping you achieve proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening through four semesters or more of the language, the eighteen credit Japanese minor will teach you about Japanese culture, history, and literature in such courses as Japanese Literature and Culture in Translation, Contemporary Japanese Society, and Gender in Japanese Popular Culture, and Supernatural Japan. 

Available as a minor or as a degree - B.A. East Asian Studies - Japanese

Languages: The Languages program offers two majors (a first major option and a second major option) and a minor. In all three options participants have the opportunity to become proficient in two of the languages offered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Ancient Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin or Russian. Students can substitute one of the languages above for Spanish, Portuguese, Navajo, or American Signed Language (ASL). 

In addition to linguistic proficiency (speaking, listening, reading and writing), students studying Languages also gain proficiency in the cultures of the people who speak the languages, including insight into the historical development of those cultures and the social values and specificities of those cultures, and have the language experience and motivation needed to take full advantage of the many foreign exchange programs offered at UNM. 

Available as a B.A. degree or minor
There is no minor required for the Languages B.A. degree as a first major.
A minor is required for the Languages B.A. when completed as a second major.  

Russian: Russia is a country of vast spaces and mysterious paradoxes. It is a land of great artists, writers and thinkers who have contributed to the world intellectual heritage. Russia is also home to prominent scientists, political activists, and incredible athletes. The rich and turbulent history of the country has left its imprint on Russia’s remarkable architecture and art, as well as the mentality of the Russian people. 

Russian is among the high priority languages for various federal agencies: the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State have all included Russian on their list of the most critically needed languages. The place of Russia and Russian in the Eurasian geographical and cultural context has been, and continues to be, of great importance in the political arena. 

You can major or minor in Russian. The Russian major emphasizes language proficiency and in-depth understanding of Russian culture and literature and also prepares students for graduate school and careers in such diverse areas as government service, business, education, translation, and health services. Our students had received prestigious scholarships from the Fulbright Commission and the State Department, which allowed them to pursue their studies in Russia and gain first-hand experience of the language and the culture. Many of our students have gone on to graduate school in multiple areas including Translation and Interpretation, Criminology, Statistics, History, Speech and Hearing, Public Administration, MBA, Economics, Nuclear Engineering, and Medical School. 

There are several study abroad opportunities for Russian students with the Pushkin Institute and Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Nizhnii Novgorod, which include Russian language at all levels as well as courses in Russian culture, literature, history, and other subjects. The HSE program features small groups or individual lessons tailored to the specific needs of the students, vibrant international campus, and plenty of extracurricular activities in a region rich in nature, history, and culture.   

Available as a B.A. degree or minor

Undergraduate Program

Departmental Honors

UNM Catalog

Programs of Study


  • B.A. Classical Studies - Civilization
  • B.A. Classical Studies – Languages
  • B.A. Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies - Comparative Literature
  • B.A. Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies - Cultural Studies
  • B.A. East Asian Studies – Chinese
  • B.A. East Asian Studies – Japanese
  • B.A. French
  • B.A. German
  • B.A. Languages (emphasis on two languages, can include Navajo or American Sign Language with approval)
  • B.A. Russian
  • Arabic
  • Asian Studies
  • Chinese
  • Classical Studies
  • Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Japanese
  • Languages (emphasis on two languages, can include Navajo or American Sign Language with approval)
  • Latin
  • Russian

Contact Information

Undergraduate Academic Advisor(s): 
Advisor office locations vary. Please click on your advisor's name below to learn more.
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Department Email:
Department Location:
Ortega Hall (Bldg 79), Suite 229

Department/Program Website