College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Comparative Literature Option in the BA in English

Are you interested in the idea of world literature, in learning about authors from a variety of countries, languages, and cultures, in reading literature in translation? If so, consider the comparative literature option, which gives students experience with literature from several cultures around the world, paying special attention to literature not originally written in English.

After completing ENGH 305, majors who select this option take two courses in British and/or American literature and two courses in some other literature, thus getting a grounding in two primary areas. They may study their second literature (so far students have chosen Spanish, French, German, or Russian) either in translation or, if they are pursuing foreign language study, with some readings in the original. With the guidance of their adviser, they also take courses from throughout the university that either bring together works from several cultures (for example, Continental Fiction, Postcolonial Literature, or Folklore) or cover regions not represented by their two primary areas (like China, ancient Greece and Rome, or Latin America). A senior seminar on "Theories of Comparative Literature" rounds off the major by introducing students to some important ways of understanding literature worldwide. Since the comparative literature option has a great deal of flexibility, it can be tailored to fit many different literary and cultural interests.


  • Two required courses (6 credits): CL 300, 514
  • One course (3 credits) in literary criticism, as appropriate for the student's focus: ENGH 305; FREN 381
  • Two courses (6 credits) in English or American literature
  • Two courses (6 credits) in literature other than English or American
    Students meet this requirement with courses in a literature other than English or American, either in translation or, for those pursuing foreign language study, with selected readings in the original language.
  • Three courses (9 credits) in comparative or world literature
    Comparative or world literature courses are designated by the comparative literature committee and generally selected in consultation with the advisor every semester. Examples are:
    • various 300-level CLAS courses
    • FRLN 330 courses
    • Special topics courses, when relevant, in ENGH, FREN, GERM, RUSS, SPAN, or other language
    • ENGH 366, 421, 360, 361, 367

Students should consult with their advisors to design a program of study that suits their particular set of interests and goals.

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