We propose to change the name of the department from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
The name change serves two distinct purposes:
1) Removal of “Foreign” from the department name.
The use of the word “foreign” implies a division between the United States and the rest of the world. While nation states may still exist, “foreign” neither reflects the multilingual historical foundation of the United States nor the ongoing globalization of society. The presence of languages other than English has a long history in the United States, a culturally diverse country where there is no official language. While there are native speakers in the U.S. of all the languages represented in this department, this is especially true for Spanish: the number of native speakers of Spanish in the U.S. is now superior to that of any other country with the exception of Mexico. In fact, by the year 2060 the Spanish-speaking population is projected to be almost 30% of the total U.S. population. Additionally, Arabic is the fastest growing language in the U.S., and Chinese grew by 12% in 2015. The removal of “Foreign”, a problematic term in an increasingly globalized world, is a growing trend in language departments nationwide. In fact, no other university or college in the Jesuit consortium utilizes the term “Foreign” in their department titles, reflecting a trend among our peer institutions as well.
The removal of the term “foreign” is also strategic in terms of attracting competitive future faculty to Marquette because its presence brands the department as out of date, instead of forward thinking.
2) Addition of “Cultures” to the department name.
The purpose of this change is two-fold. First, the addition of “cultures” results in a more inclusive department name and more accurately reflects the research areas of our faculty. “Cultures” speaks to the components of our collective work that go beyond language and written texts, stretching into film, visual art, performance, philosophy, and history. For instance, our French professors do not only focus on traditional French literature, but also on Francophone cultural studies, which hinges upon thematic questions around gender, race, and migration. In sum, because culture is a more capacious term, it also provides room for growth as our respective fields evolve.
Second, while we as faculty understand that language and culture are inseparable and that by learning a language you also gain cultural competence, the relationship between language and culture is not always clear to students. Adding “cultures” to the department name will constitute an explicit recognition of this and potentially attract more students to all of our courses. Our job is to serve the widest number of students we can at Marquette and this name change will help us do just that, positively impacting enrollments.
Our proposed name does not conflict with other departments’ names. The Department of Social and Cultural Sciences employs Cultural as an adjective to modify their social science-based methodologies and approaches but our department uses Cultures as a noun to represent one of our research and teaching objectives. Thus, we do not foresee any negative impact on any departments inside the college or areas external to it.