The Department of Languages and World Literatures was created on January 1, 2019. It comprises two programs: French and Spanish. We also have three established program areas (i.e., disciplines for which we do not yet have a major or minor): Japanese Studies, German Studies, and World Literature. Furthermore, we offer language and intercultural communication courses in an increasing number of languages, including Chinese and Korean. The idea to integrate the study of languages and global literatures stemmed from the understanding that both disciplines can greatly enhance each other as inherently interrelated endeavours that cross time and national boundaries. From its conception, the department has sought to drive a new academic vision in the humanities in the Okanagan. This is no easy task at the best of times, but much more so now as humanities subject areas face declining enrolment across North America. Yet this is precisely where we see salient opportunities. Enrolment patterns over the last decade indicate that students are not as interested in studying single national literature traditions in the original language as they once were. By combining the study of languages and global literatures, the department’s range of study goes beyond the Euro-American canon into diverse cultures, societies, and civilizations, and into ancient mythologies and oral traditions. As a testament to our commitment to integrating language instruction and literary studies, in the past two years we have hired two tenure-track faculty in the Educational Leadership and the Professoriate streams, one in Spanish/Indigenous and World Literatures and another in Francophone Studies and African Transcultural Studies, respectively.
The combination of language learning and World Literatures within a single academic unit entails a unique alliance in Canada and, more importantly, constitutes our greatest strength. The WRLD course code is a UBCO-only designation at this time. Initial offerings in World Literature already have been successful and popular, and we are seeing an increasing number of colleagues designing and teaching new WRLD courses. Everyone in LWL speaks at least two languages, from the Head to our sessional instructors. This plurilingual reach enables us to offer a wide range of courses, from medieval Spain to modern Japan. In select courses, including co-taught or team-taught courses, students can opt to submit work in English or in their language of study. Our courses are informed by the latest developments in language and literary studies, which includes an increasingly global and intercultural outlook. As such, we are also ideal partners for UBC’s Go Global exchange program. The department has encouraged radical collaboration from the start, maximizing existing and potential faculty resources. We are made up of a seldom seen assemblage of interdisciplinarians. Our approach is multifaceted, synthesizing the study of languages, literatures, theatre, art history, religions, and film. By complicating the idea of literature as an expression of cultural centres, we probe the ways in which texts circulate beyond ethnic and national boundaries.