What Is CompLit?

Comparative Literature is the study of all modes of human expression: oral, written, visual—including today’s newest forms of media.

Working between, within, and across borders, Comparative Literature allows students to build facility with multiple languages and skills in critical thinking, viewing, writing, and oral presentation. Comparatists also apply the insights and methods of translation studies philosophy, history, linguistics, sociology, the media, and the other human sciences to the study of literature and media. 

Skills Learned by students of Comparative Literature:

  • analytical, reading, writing, and advanced research skills

  • strong skills in at least one language other than English

  • ability to think critically in multiple languages

  • vision to develop new frameworks

  • deep appreciation for language, literature, and culture



Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst is actively engaged in defining new paradigms and problems within the discipline.

Comparative Literature is, by definition, a comprehensive and complex discipline: its practitioners become adept in multiple cultures and its tradition emphasizes interdisciplinary, theoretical, and engaged research and teaching. Our students study relationships between translation and transnationalism, theory and media, gender and cultural formation across time, literary history and psychoanalysis, "East"-"West" cultural encounters, human rights and global censorship, postcolonial and diaspora studies, and a variety of studies in the media and moving images.

If you study Comparative Literature, you learn languages and you travel. It’s as simple as that. But the pay-off is anything but simple. Today, international knowledge and international experience give employees an edge in nearly every field. Careers in media, law, public service, the non-profit sector, international business, and academia are among those represented by Comparative Literature graduates.

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