Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC)

Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program

CRAIG SAPER, Graduate Program Director

Clinical Associate Professor
Globalized communication and culture, new media, social movements, critical pedagogy, qualitative research

Assistant Professor
Sociology of education, educational policy, inequalities in education, early childhood education, sociology of immigration, and Latino children and families

Associate Professor
English language variation, language and education inequality, the interface of sociolinguistics and sociology, research methodology

Professor and Director
E-literacy, e-publishing and online scholarship, history of reading and reading devices, networked writing, cultural and media theory and interventions

Professor Emerita (Founding Director)
Literacy, language and public policy, immigrant education, second-language teaching, teacher development

Approximately fifty other faculty members from other UMBC departments are officially affiliated with the LLC Doctoral Program. For a complete listing, including their research interests, please visit the LLC website.
Program Description

The Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture is an interdisciplinary program of the study of language, culture and human interaction. This interdisciplinary program draws upon the departments of Africana Studies; American Studies; Education; English; History; Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication; Sociology and Anthropology; and the Gender and Women's Studies Program at UMBC. The goal of the program is to provide research and applications that will enable professionals to work with interdisciplinary issues in language, literacy and culture.

Degree Offered


Program of Study

Students develop their program of study for the Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture in consultation with their LLC program advisor and their dissertation research advisor. The program requires completion of 12 credits of introductory courses, 15 credits of specialized courses, 12 credits of additional research methodology courses and, once students achieve candidacy, at least 18 credits of dissertation research.. Some of these credits beyond the core courses can be obtained from other departmentsí course offerings, with the consent of the studentís LLC advisor. In addition, students must successfully complete written comprehensive examinations and write and defend a dissertation proposal. The program of study culminates with the successful defense of the dissertation. Where appropriate for research projects, students should demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.

The program of study prepares doctoral students to identify, research and help resolve issues related to language, literacy and culture.

Participating Departments

Africana Studies; American Studies; Education; English; Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication; Sociology and Anthropology, History; and the Gender and Women's Studies Program.

Program Admission

Admission to the LLC doctoral program is highly competitive. At a minimum all applicants must have a masters degree and meet all of the admissions requirements as set forth by the Graduate School. In addition, applicants must submit an academic writing sample directly to the Language, Literacy and Culture program.

LLC Ph.D. Program
ACIV A-Wing, Room 421
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

Other original application documents should be sent directly to the Graduate School, and not to the LLC program. Please note that the LLC Doctoral Program admits new students in fall semesters only. The program deadline for receipt of all application materials is December 1 of the year prior to the fall semester in which the student intends to enroll. Contact the LLC Administrative Assistant for more information, and for dates of upcoming open houses.

Financial Assistance

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available through the program. Work-study assistantships are also available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Students applying for work-study assistantships should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Visit the UMBC Financial Aid website for more information:

LLC Contact Information
Liz Steenrod
LLC Administrative Assistant 410-455-2376

The Graduate School at UMBC
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250


LLC students take courses from LLC as well as the participating departments and programs. Check the catalog for the full list of course offerings from participating departments. Students also may take courses from other graduate programs at UMBC as listed in this Graduate School catalog.

Introductory Courses

LLC 700 and 701 (previously called LLC 600 I and II)
Introduction to Language, Literacy and Culture I Fall [3]
Introduction to Language, Literacy and Culture II Spring [3]

These two courses are designed to introduce students to interdisciplinary research and the ways in which social structuring, cultural assumptions and language use affect public policy formation and interactions in such areas as the multi-cultural classroom, the professions, government, and business.

LLC 744 (previously called LLC 644)
Methods of Language, Literacy and Culture Research, Social Sciences [3]
This course is designed to provide students with graduate-level understanding of social science research methods. Major objectives are to understand the various components and stages of the social science research process; to understand the values, politics and ethics of social science research; and to learn how to design a manageable research project.

LLC 745
Methods of Language, Literacy and Culture Research, Humanities [3]

This course is designed to provide students with graduate-level understanding of humanities research methods. Major objectives are to master the design, components, methodologies, values, politics, and ethics of the humanities and cultural studies research processes, develop the ability to use course concepts in thinking and problem solving; develop interpersonal and academic interaction and communication skills to both engage in designing cultural research projects and to contribute to our LLC learning community.

Specialization Courses

These courses should build the theoretical foundations for research.

LLC 606
Social Inequality and Social Policy [3]

This course examines poverty and inequality in modern society. The focus is on describing the extent of poverty and inequality, examining theories that attempt to explain these phenomena and discussing the policies that have been employed to mitigate them. In addition to class inequality, the course also considers racial and gender inequality. Note: Also listed as SOCY 606.

LLC 610
Theorizing Identity in Multi-Cultural Contexts [3]

This course examines the changing dynamics of identity formation and transformation as they are mediated through contemporary experiences of race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality and nation. A wide range of personal narratives and case studies are analyzed using different socio-cultural theories of identity. Note: Also listed as AMST 610.

LLC 611
Constructing Race, Class and Gender [3]

This course provides an interdisciplinary examination of the complex array and interplay of structural and cultural limitations on individual and group mobility in contemporary American society. Using a range of approaches, the course defines and clarifies the limitations of these dominant social categories by problematizing and interrogating four important social categories: race, class, gender and schooling. Note: Also listed as EDUC 611 and SOCY 611.

LLC 612
Language, Race and Ethnicity [3]

This course explores language as a mechanism in the construction and institutionalization of race and ethnicity. Topics covered include the construction of standard language ideologies, the significance of racial and ethnic dialects in individual and group identities, the "English only" and "Ebonics" controversies and linguistic profiling. Students will propose original research projects to further examine language, race and ethnicity.

LLC 613
Language, Gender and Culture [3]

This course provides an in-depth understanding of how gender and language are integrated into the fabric of cultures and societies and how sociocultural contexts give meaning to linguistic practices and to gender categories. Students will examine and evaluate a diverse body of literature and scholarship from the fields of linguistics, anthropology, gender studies, and sociology that bear on these issues. Critical attention will be paid to understanding the roles of language and gender in the U.S. context, especially with regard to the U.S. social institutions of education and the media; we will also explore relationships between language and gender in a range of other Western and non-Western cultures. Students will apply what they have learned in the course to final projects that may be research-based or outreach-based. Note: Also listed as GWST 613 and MLL 613.

LLC 616
Cyberspace, Culture and Society [3]

The information superhighway, communications revolution and cyberspace are used to describe the contemporary revolution in human communications. This course will explore the cultural and societal implications of computer-mediated communications by addressing such topics and questions as the representations of self and self-identity in cyberspace, interactions in cyberspace, information technology and institutional change, community formation in cyberspace, democracy and collective action in cyberspace and order and deviance in cyberspace. Throughout the course, contemporary technological advances will be compared to and contrasted with the cultural and societal effects of previous technologies, such as the printing press, wireless telephone and television. Note: Also listed as SOCY 616.

LLC 621
Immigration, Race, and Society [3]

This introductory graduate seminar focuses on current issues of immigration, race-ethnicity, and society using interdisciplinary and multisystem lenses. The first part of the course focuses on the context of immigration by studying who migrates to the U.S. and why, and the consequences of immigration for the U.S. society. The second part of the course focuses on the experiences of children of immigrants in the U.S. We will examine theories of acculturation and assimilation to understand immigrants' integration (or isolation), the role of ethnic communities in the new country, family and intergenerational relations, issues of identity, and the schooling and educational experiences of immigrant children. The course highlights the diversity and theoretical approaches used to understand issues of immigration and explores significant variations in current immigration and integration experiences and the variability of opportunities available to different ethnic groups. Note: Also listed as SOCY 621.

LLC 622
Inequality in Education [3]

This graduate seminar focuses on current issues of educational inequality using interdisciplinary and multisystem lenses, examining educational indicators of inequality, the role of families and schools in determining patterns of educational inequality, and current debates about key policies and practices in classrooms and schools. The course also examines relationships between schools and other social institutions (i.e. the family and its larger community).

LLC 635
Socio-Cultural Theories of Learning and Human Interaction [3]

This seminar examines the process of human learning from an ecological or socio-cultural perspective across diverse contexts, including the effects of differences in cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds of student and teacher; differences in learning styles and educational assumptions; and institutional catalysts or barriers to student achievement. The role of social interaction in learning is also addressed. Note: Also listed as EDUC 635.

LLC 640
Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Race, Society and Culture [3]

This course explores critical social issues through analysis and discussion of works by contemporary authors who have shaped critical discourse in relationship to issues of freedom, truth and dignity. The course focuses on personal, social, intellectual and aesthetic challenges to modern discourse, as well as the dialectics of change and order. Note: Also listed as AFST 640.

LLC 647
Online Voice and Community [3]

This course examines culturally specific online communities and the ways in which these strengthen social capital. Students analyze and participate in online communities, examining text, voice, ethics, language and structure. They consider the importance of valued voice in the design, engagement and outcome of successful online communities. Note: Also listed as ENGL 447/647.

LLC 660
Theoretical Approaches to Intercultural Communication [3]

Students will analyze and discuss theoretical frameworks, concepts, research projects, and currently available textbooks on intercultural communication, examining discussions in the US, (but also those in other countries, if possible) that students are either interested in or have selected for a cooperative project. This course will expand and deepen knowledge of intercultural communication theories studied in MLL 605. It is designed to provide a basis for research into theories of intercultural communication at the MA and Ph.D. level. Note: Also listed as MLL 660.

LLC 680
Theories of Feminism [3]

This course examines the major theories of feminism through the study of works by central feminist thinkers in historical and intellectual contexts. Topics include reproduction and sexuality; the sexual division of labor; political rights and the intersection of class, race and gender. Note: Also listed as GWST 680.

LLC 750
Topics in Language, Literacy and Culture [3]

Topics in specific areas of language, literacy and culture are selected on the basis of the interests of faculty and students. Note: May be repeated for credit.

LLC 892
Independent Study in Language, Literacy and Culture [2-3]

This course provides the student with the opportunity to study independently any aspect of language, literacy and culture relevant to the student's program concentration that is not covered by regular course offerings.

Research Methodology Courses

LLC 601
Intercultural Pragmatics [3]

This course investigates the linguistic and semiotic underpinnings of human communication, the sorts of structuring that communicative codes themselves impose on interaction, the social constraints within which it operates and the role context plays in understanding the complexities of discourse. Note: Also listed as MLL 601.

LLC 645
Quantitative Research Methods I [3]

This is a course in the application of basic statistics in a variety of educational research settings. Emphasis is placed upon the use of descriptive statistics, the interpretation and construction of data collection instruments and the application of basic research paradigms. Prerequisite: LLC 744.

LLC 646
Quantitative Research Methods II [3]

Special problems arising in the implementation of educational research designs are examined. Instrumentation to measure attitudes and the collection of questionnaire data are part of the course content. Statistical procedures in addition to those taught in EDUC 645 and appropriate to the analysis of educational research designs are introduced. Problem experiences in instrumentation construction and analysis, as well as research design are emphasized. Prerequisite: LLC 645.

LLC 650
Ethnographic Methods [3]

This course provides a systematic overview of qualitative methods in social science research. Students will cover theoretical perspectives, research techniques, research design, data management, data analysis and ethical questions relevant to qualitative research. During the course, students will propose and conduct original, short-term qualitative research projects pertaining to language, literacy and culture. Prerequisite: LLC 644.

Dissertation Research Courses

LLC 898 Pre-Candidacy Doctoral Research [3]
Students conducting dissertation research under the direction of a faculty advisor before candidacy enroll in this course.

LLC 899 Doctoral Dissertation Research [9]
(2 semesters or 18 credit hours) Doctoral dissertation research under the direction of the faculty advisor.

Additional Courses

LLC 648
Research Writing and Design [3]

The course focuses on three aspects of academic writing: participating in the scholarly community, writing for conference presentation and publication and writing for the dissertation. Students identify leading publications in their field and assess the expectations, read deeply within one journal series and prepare a paper for publication. They also prepare a paper for a conference presentation, while developing a fuller text for publication. Finally, they review successful dissertations and their dissertation requirements and design a reasonable process for dissertation writing and management.

LLC 890
Research Proposal Seminar [3]

The goal of this course is to help students develop their own dissertation proposals. To accomplish this, faculty in language, literacy and culture discuss their research from the proposal stage through publication and mentor students in the development of their own proposals. Students are exposed to a variety of topics and methodologies. (Most advisors suggest that students take this course in order to draft the research proposal.)

LLC 891
Internship in Language, Literacy and Culture [3-6]

The internship is a specially designed project related to the student's major concentration. The internship provides the opportunity to research issues in language, literacy and culture in real-world contexts and to apply results of that research to practical-world problems and issues. The internship should be a special project, not just part of a regular job. Internships should be completed when a student is far enough along to know what her/his research is, and it can be a research pilot. The internship requires a short proposal to be submitted for approval and once the internship is completed, students submit a final report.

General Notes
Attendance in all of these advanced graduate seminars is essential. Most class meetings are scheduled from 4:30pm to 7:00pm; some meet from 7:10pm to 9:40pm. A student must be able to take 4:30 classes. All courses require permission from the program.