Program Curriculum

Detailed Program Timeline: Year 1

Autumn Quarter
 

Orientation

Your first year begins with an orientation and reception to introduce you to program resources (e.g. Truly House, the library, the media center). You will be welcomed by, and have opportunities to interact with, core Cultural Studies faculty, key staff and administrators, as well as some of the Year 2 students. The orientation also provides an introduction to the culture and expectations of graduate studies more generally. An important part of the evening are student conversations with faculty which will help faculty better understand your individual interests, commitments and goals.

BCULST 500: Formations of Cultural Studies (10 credits)

This is the core course launching the academic program; it maps the field of cultural studies and introduces key research practices. The course also attends to historical and contemporary forms of cultural studies inquiry, with an emphasis on the local and global questions, problems and conversations that shape that inquiry. Furthermore, the course:

  • combines classroom seminars with site visits and workshops;
  • brings core and affiliate Cultural Studies faculty into the course to acquaint students with the range of commitments and research interests within the program, which will be helpful in making elective choices and with beginning formulations of research ideas and relationships;
  • stresses critical reading and communication practices;
  • introduces the program objectives, the capstone, and the portfolio process;
  • enhances understanding of, and develops a feel for, the portfolio process, including the electronic portfolio tool, by structuring the course in a portfolio-based manner;
  • discusses and explicates the value of the Cultural Studies portfolio and portfolio review process;
  • introduces students to campus and regional resources (Academic Services, the Library, Media Center production facilities, faculty and staff, community partners)

Advising

Your instructors for BCULST 500 should be viewed as an important advising resource during this first quarter of the program; they’ll certainly help you to start making sense of the field of cultural studies and the Cultural Studies program. These instructors will also facilitate the development of a strong peer support and advising culture, though this will require active (and generous) participation from students.

Portfolio Advising

Towards the start of the quarter, you will be notified of the faculty person who has been designated as your Portfolio Advisor (PA). You should initiate a meeting with your new PA as soon as possible to establish a shared sense of your goals and expectations. You should also start discussing a trajectory for the first year, and perhaps begin a conversation about possible research directions and relationships. You should certainly consult your PA about cultural studies electives for the Winter and Spring quarters.

Winter Quarter
 

BCULST 501: Cultural Studies as Collaboration (5 credits)

This second core course focuses on diverse theories and practices of collaboration, with an emphasis on ethical, political, and practical considerations. In addition, the course:

  • engages questions of agency and self as relevant to questions of relationship, action, production and consumption, identity and representation;
  • articulates and examines links between academic collaboration and community-based participatory research design.

Cultural Studies Elective # 1 (5 credits)

This is your first opportunity to start looking beyond the core program for insight into other theories, topics, approaches and applications in cultural studies. There will be a further three or four such electives during the program – one next quarter and two or three in Year 2. Please note: you are required to take a minimum of 10 credits in BCULST electives (i.e. two classes). You may otherwise choose any UW Bothell or UW Seattle courses (graduate class or 400-level undergrad class), provided your PA has approved the relevance and suitability of the course for the Cultural Studies program. If you do decide to take an undergrad class, you will be expected (a) to have already secured permission from the instructor to take the class, and, most likely, (b) to arrange some additional assignment for ensuring the course is of a graduate-level standard.

* view all current courses in Cultural Studies

Advising

Your Portfolio Advisor (PA) will work with you on the selection of your Spring Quarter elective(s). You should also start discussing your capstone pre-proposals with your PA and thinking about which faculty you might be interested in working with. During this quarter, you should also meet with your PA to discuss the first portfolio framing essay and arrive at a shared understanding of expectations.

Spring Quarter
 

BCULST 502: Cultural Studies Research Practices (5 credits)

The last of the core courses for Year 1 focuses on the intersections of ethnographic, textual, and performance-based research methods, with special attention to participatory action research strategies. The course combines theory and practice through experiential learning in ways that will help you:

  • work on the formulation of research question(s) and the scale/scope of research projects;
  • work on the process of developing a literature review, of locating and joining into a research conversation;
  • addresses the question of what a cultural studies research process looks like and how it transpires;
  • engage questions of presentation and styles of writing, of communication and documentation;
  • address ethical forms of research and representation, including (but certainly not limited to) IRB processes and concerns
  • formulate and refine your capstone proposal and abstract as a major course assignment (capstone proposal, abstract, and Capstone Advisor Nomination due this quarter);
  • organize peer review of capstone pre-proposals.

Cultural Studies Elective # 2 (5 credits)

This is your second opportunity to start looking beyond the core program for insight into other theories, topics, approaches and applications in cultural studies. There will be two or three more electives in your second year of the program. Remember, you are required to take a minimum of 10 credits in BCULST electives (i.e. two classes). You may otherwise choose any UW Bothell or UW Seattle courses (graduate class or 400-level undergrad class), provided your PA has approved the relevance and suitability of the course for the Cultural Studies program. If you do decide to take an undergrad class, you will be expected (a) to have already secured permission from the instructor to take the class, and, most likely, (b) to arrange some additional assignment for ensuring the course is of a graduate-level standard.

* view all current courses in Cultural Studies

Advising

There are several important formal advising deadlines and meetings beginning early in this quarter; this includes a formal review of the first portfolio framing essay and the capstone pre-proposal and advisor selection process.

Portfolio Review

You should schedule a meeting to discuss the first portfolio essay soon after it has been submitted to your PA. This is an important moment for discussing the direction(s) the portfolio is going, its internal coherence, and its relationship to the field of cultural studies and to the Cultural Studies program. This is an opportunity to evaluate your work so far in relation to program goals and your own personal and professional goals, to identify any gaps as well as particular strengths and interests. Your portfolio framing essay is a critical part of this evaluation. It should provide an interpretive framework for reading the portfolio contents, both in terms of the internal relationship among the work samples and of the relationship of the portfolio as a whole to the field, the program, and your own goals and aspirations. This meeting is an opportunity for your PA to listen, to ask questions, and provide feedback (i.e., be an audience), and to assist you in developing plans for choices and development in relation to the program and your broader goals. This is also a good moment to discuss elective options for Year 2 Autumn quarter. Your PA may ask for revisions to either or both the portfolio and the framing essay before signing off on the review form.

You will need to have submitted a portfolio review form (approved by your PA) to the Graduate Office before you can obtain the add code necessary to register for BCULST 510 Engaging Cultural Studies – the first core course in Year 2.

Capstone Pre-proposal and Advisor Nomination

You should consult with your PA to help identify and rank your nominations for a Capstone Advisor (CA); it often helps (but is not required) if you have also been in contact with any potential CAs. By early to mid-May, you will have to submit your three rank-ordered choices for CA together with a capstone pre-proposal. This petition will be reviewed by the Cultural Studies faculty coordinator who will assign you a CA based on faculty availability and goodness of fit.

Students will be notified as soon as possible who their CA is. At which time – and before the end of the quarter – you should set up a meeting with your new CA to outline your next steps, including work to be completed over the summer, and paying special attention to any requirements for progress toward the capstone proposal.

Summer Quarter
 

Summer credit may be available for students to work on their proposals, prepare for their community-based project work, do pilot work, prepare/submit IRB proposals, or do an internship. Aside from for-credit work, summer is also an opportunity for independent and/or guided reading and writing, to continue developing the capstone proposal, to establish or strengthen relationships with community-based partners or potential partners, and to refine/consolidate work of the previous year.

Students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with their librarian to discuss finding, obtaining, and evaluating resources for their capstone project (at whatever stage of development it may be). Some students may be trying to identify or obtain resources that are fairly specialized; if so, it will be important to start this process sooner rather than later.