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Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media Diversity Statement

3 June 2016


In Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, the issue of diversity, as it pertains to our faculty, staff, and students at all levels, is vital to the pursuit of our broader academic mission.  Our disciplines depend in the most fundamental way on the study of diverse literatures, cinemas and media, representing languages and cultures from across the globe. Many of the texts we study address the ongoing tensions between hegemonic nations and social groups and those that seek greater equity and representation, whether within the context of the Pacific Northwest, the United States, or the larger international context that occupies so much of our teaching and research.  The following is meant as a living document, a brief summary of our ongoing efforts and commitments to prioritize issues of diversity and underrepresentation.

Comparative Literature

Departments of comparative literature have traditionally tended to emphasize the contributions to universal culture of the philosophies and literatures of Western Europe, but in recent decades this primary focus has been expanded through the study of world literatures, bringing new scholars, new students and new readers to traditional comparative literature.

Cinema and Media

The Cinema and Media Studies component of our department has recently secured its own separate undergraduate major, as well as a graduate certificate program. From the program’s inception we have maintained a strong program in the theoretical, analytical, and historical approaches of film genres in World Cinema;

in recent years our core faculty has expanded to include specialists in Asian, Latin American and trans-national Francophone cinemas.  Moreover, adjunct faculty regularly offer courses in our department in the cinemas of many areas and countries, including Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Spain and Italy, and numerous other national and Indigenous cinemas. The Cinema and Media Studies Division has just approved implementation of two new Diversity courses, CMS 275: Perspectives on Visual Culture: Sex, Race and Power and CMS 321: Oppositional Cinema/Media.

Graduate and Undergraduate Studies

We have succeeded in recruiting one of the most international graduate student bodies in the humanities, and in recent years we have also expanded the representation of Latinos and Asian Americans among both our undergraduate and our graduate students.  We commit ourselves to continuing to recruit, mentor and retain members of these communities, as well as members of other underrepresented U.S. minority groups, including African Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Also, we commit ourselves to recruiting and retaining members of other minority groups, including LGBTQ candidates, veterans, and those with disabilities.  This quarter the GPC has begun to assign mentors to all of our current graduate students who have not yet constituted their graduate committees; we hope that this will help us better support our students, including those from diverse backgrounds. Next year we will resume our applications for GO-MAP Graduate Diversity Fellowships.

As an incentive for studying Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, the department has been building the funding for two opportunity scholarships, one at the undergraduate and the other at the graduate level. We will offer these scholarships next year and will work to identify appropriate candidates.

Faculty Diversity

We believe that our future success depends on strengthening faculty diversity, including gender as well as underrepresented U.S. minority groups.   To this end, we will recruit additional faculty of color from other departments to join our faculty as adjuncts and will begin the foundational work in advance of future faculty searches, with guidance from the UW Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement. We anticipate the concrete steps we will take to include those listed below. In the meantime, we have begun devoting portions of our regular faculty meetings to discussing diversity issues.

Next Steps

  • We will explore options for implementing an undergraduate major focused on World Literature. For this purpose we will be hosting a visiting committee of six distinguished scholars in the field in the October of 2016, with funding from the Simpson Center for the Humanities. In our ongoing discussions next year, we will be paying close attention to the role diversity can play across our entire program.
  • We will review the department curriculum to identify additional existing courses that might be designated for Diversity credit and/or linked to the Diversity Minor. We will also work with department faculty to explore ways of diversifying the content of existing courses and developing new courses.
  • We will work with the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and continue to consult with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and GO-MAP, as well as with other departments around campus that have succeeded at diversifying their faculties and students bodies in recent years, including the Department of Anthropology. 
  • We will strategize with faculty and graduate students to organize a day-long public diversity event open to the UW community, in order to both promote the department and recruit students to the department.
  • We will familiarize ourselves with and implement the recommendations of the Class C Senate “Resolution Concerning Equity, Access and Inclusion in Hiring” (adopted January 29, 2015), including the UW Advance initiative on interrupting bias in the search process, as well as the tool kit on best hiring practices recently published by the Office of Faculty Advancement.

  • We will assess our progress at regular intervals; we commit ourselves to revisiting and updating this diversity statement on an annual basis.

Diversity Resources at the University of Washington

Diversity at the University of Washington

Diversity Research Institute

Disability Resources for Students

Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program

Office of Minority Affairs

Q Center

UW Campus Diversity Calendar

UW Campus Diversity Resources

Women's Center