Comparative Literature

Coordinator:      Jean-Vincent Blanchard (Modern Languages and Literatures, French)
Committee:        Alan Berkowitz (Modern Languages and Literatures, Chinese)
                           Elizabeth Bolton (English Literature)
                           Rachel Buurma (English Literature)
                           Sibelan Forrester (Modern Languages and Literatures, Russian)
                           William O. Gardner (Modern Languages and Literatures, Japanese)
                           Maria Luisa Guardiola (Modern Languages and Literatures, Spanish)
                           Alexandra Gueydan-Turek (Modern Languages and Literatures, French)
                           Haili Kong (Modern Languages and Literatures, Chinese)
                           Allen Kuharski (Theater)
                           Rosaria V. Munson (Classics)
                           Philip M. Weinstein (English Literature) 3
                           Hansjakob Werlen (Modern Languages and Literatures, German) 3


3 Absent on leave, 2014–2015.


The Comparative Literature Committee, made up of the coordinator and faculty representing the departments of classics, English literature, modern languages and literatures, and theater, administers the comparative literature major. The basic requirement for the major is work intwo literatures in the original language.

The major in comparative literature is designed for those students who have a love for literature and a strong desire to write and are interested in literary critical research. This major assumes a fair degree of discipline, independence, and self-motivation on the part of the student, especially in the development and writing of the thesis.

The Academic Program

In planning a comparative literature major, students should look at course listings in the classics, English literature, and modern languages and literatures departments. In the classics and modern languages and literatures, only courses in the original language numbered 011 or above are counted as constituents of the comparative literature major. Of English courses numbered ENGL 008A-Z and 009A-Z, only one may be counted toward the major.

Course Major

Ten credits in two or more literatures in the original languages, including a substantial concentration of work—normally four or five courses—in each of the literatures. The Senior thesis (described in the “Thesis/Culminating Exercise” section, below) does not count toward these 10 credits.

Students working in French, German, Russian, or Spanish may propose one course in translation (or LITR course) as part of their program. Because of the special demands of Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese language and literature, students working in any of those three languages may propose a program based on attachments (in Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese) to literature courses taught in translation.

A 1- or 2-credit thesis of 35 to 40 pages for one credit, 50-60 pages for two credits, covering work in at least two languages (see “Thesis/Culminating Exercise”).

An oral comprehensive examination of 1 hour during the final exam period of the senior year, based on the thesis and courses and seminars that the major comprises.

Honors Major

Four 2-credit preparations––3 seminars and a 2-credit thesis––in at least two literatures in the original language, one of which is a thesis. One of the preparations may be used as an independent minor (in Russian or German studies, for instance) if the minor’s departmental requirements have been met. Minors requiring unrelated preparations such as biology or psychology are not allowed. All four honors preparations are necessary components of the comparative literature honors major.

A 3-hour written examination for each preparation, prepared by the external examiner and a 30-minute oral based on the contents of the written examination.

Honors Minor

Five credits in two literatures in the original language, with a minimum of 2 courses in each of the literatures.

A 2-credit thesis of 50 to 60 pages, integrating preparations that have been done in two literatures in the original language.

Thesis / Culminating Exercise

All majors and minors will meet with members of the Comparative Literature Committee before the end of the junior year to review and assess the student’s program.

At this time, the student will submit a thesis outline to the committee, and will propose faculty advisers from appropriate departments. In some cases, the committee may ask that the thesis be written in whole or in part in the language of a literature studied other than English.

The thesis will be submitted no later than April 30 of the senior year.

Application Process for the Major and the Minor

Successful completion of an advanced literature course in each of the literatures of the student’s program of study is a prerequisite for admission into the Honors Program. A minimum grade of B is required.

Students applying for the (Honors) major will submit to the comparative literature coordinator a proposal of integrated study that sets forth the courses and/or seminars to be taken and the principle of coherence on which the program of study is based. The student will also submit a 6- to 10-page writing sample from a previously completed course. The committee will then review the proposal and the essay to advise the student.

In lieu of a traditional course, the Comparative Literature Committee will consider proposals for one or more research papers written as course attachments.

Sample Comparative Literature Course Major

The courses and seminars that compose the comparative literature major’s formal field of study will naturally differ with each major. To give some sense of the range of possibilities available, a series of sample programs is offered.

Focus: The Black Atlantic

ENGL 009S. First-Year Seminar: Black Liberty, Black Literature
ENGL 061. Core Course: Fictions of Black America
ENGL 060. Early African American Print Cultures, or
ENGL 062. Classic Black Autobiography, or ENGL 063. Contemporary Black Autobiography.
FREN 015. Advanced French 2: La France et le monde francophone.
FREN 045. Le Monde francophone
LITR 059FG. Diasporas in cinema
FREN 093. Directed Reading French Cultural and Critical Theory
FREN 111. Représentations post-coloniales
2-credit thesis.
Sample: Comparative Literature Honors Major

Focus: Modernism

ENGL 035. Core Course: The Rise of the Novel
ENGL 053. Core Course: Modern American Poetry
GMST 020. Introduction to German Studies: Topics in German Literature and Culture
GMST 091. Special Topics in German Studies
ENGL 117. Theories and Literatures of Globalization
ENGL 118. Modern Poetry
GMST 111. Medienkultur
2-credit thesis: Kant’s influence on Hölderlin and Borges

Sample Comparative Literature Honors Minor

Background Courses
GMST 020. Introduction to German Studies: Topics in German Literature and Culture
GMST 091. Special Topics in German Studies (plus attachment in German)
SPAN 022. Introducción a la literature española
SPAN 108. Jorge Louis Borges
2-credit thesis: Kant’s influence on Hölderlin and Borges