Comparative Literature, LLC

Comp-Lit
UMass
 
 

History

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What was it that led to the formation of a constellation known as Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst?

In the late 1960’s, as the University made a transition from a small agriculturally oriented land-grant institution to a full-fledged research university, members of four departments, Irving Rothberg (Spanish), Eva Schiffer (German), Paul Mankin (French), and Alex Page (English) proposed the establishment of a Program in Comparative Literature which would serve to bridge the gaps between these then departments, to provide a neutral, interdisciplinary space for dialogue and scholarship that would embrace the global without neglecting the local—and to do what our discipline does best: cultivate a curriculum in literature and culture, with ties to the arts, that speaks to students of many linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Our work has earned us a reputation as a continual source of energy and innovation on behalf of the University. The University Translation Center, for example, was founded by faculty in Comparative Literature and is now thriving under the direction of a faculty member with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and ties to Comparative Literature at UMass. Likewise, the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies has long been headed by a faculty member in Comparative Literature.

Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has evolved as a unique social and academic entity with a curriculum like no other at the University. Members of our faculty repeatedly win the University’s Outstanding Advisor Award; we sponsor B.D.I.C. students; our faculty and graduate students have conducted distance learning courses through WGBY public television and online; one of our faculty founded the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival in 1993, now in its thirteenth season; we have faculty collaborating with the University without Walls; and we work with Commonwealth College (our University Honors Program) as advisors and teaching faculty.

 

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