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Academics

Major in Comparative Literature

In order to obtain the BA degree in Comparative Literature offered at UMass Amherst, the eligible student should choose one of the tracks outlined below. All tracks emphasize the analysis and comparison of works from several national literary traditions (one of which may be English), and the study of these works in their original language. The third track also explores the relation of literature to an extraliterary discipline, such as sociology, history, music or film.

The Major Tracks

I. General Languages and Literature

  • 6 courses in Comparative Literature (up to 2 may be at the 200 level, or 1 at the 100 level and 1 at the 200 level)
  • 4 upper-level courses in your choice of a 1st language (this is often English)
  • 3 upper-level courses in a 2nd language

II. Advanced Language and Literature with Work in a Third Language

Either:

  • 6 courses in Comparative Literature (up to 2 may be at the 200 level, or 1 at the 100 level and 1 at the 200 level)
  • 4 upper-level courses in the 1st language
  • 2 upper-level courses in a 2nd language
  • 2 courses or 6 credits of elementary work in a 3rd language

Or:

  • 6 courses in Comparative Literature (up to 2 may be at the 200 level, or 1 at the 100 level and 1 at the 200 level)
  • 3 upper-level courses in the 1st language
  • 2 upper-level courses in a 2nd language
  • 2 upper-level courses in a 3rd language

III. Literature and a Related Discipline

  • 6 courses in Comparative Literature (up to 2 may be at the 200 level, or 1 at the 100 level and 1 at the 200 level)
  • 3 upper-level courses in the 1st language
  • 2 upper-level courses in a 2nd language
  • 4 upper-level courses in the department of a related discipline of your choice

For a full description of film study as a related discipline, see Film Concentration.


FAQs

What counts as an “upper-level” course?

In language and literature departments:

French, Italian, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Polish:

Courses numbered 240 and higher count towards the Comp Lit major.
When possib
le, courses should focus on literature, film, or a related topic (i.e. not language or conversation).

Chinese and Japanese:

Courses numbered 200 and above count towards the major. Chinese and Japanese 246 (6 credits) count as one course.

English:

Courses numbered 200 and above count towards the major. One creative writing course may also be counted towards the major.

Arabic:

Intermediate courses and above count towards the major (numbering varies).

Other languages:

Check with the Undergraduate Program Director.

In the Related Discipline:

  • Any course that counts towards the major in the Related Discipline will count in this category.
  • Film Concentration: Any film class, taken in any department, may count towards the Related Discipline component of the major.
  • Translation Concentration: Any translation class, taken in any department, may count towards the Related Discipline component of the major.

All students should consult with their advisors or the UPD to ensure that they are on track.

Which Comparative Literature courses should I take?

  • All Comp Lit courses numbered 300 and above count towards the major.
  • One 100-level CL course and one 200-level CL course or two 200-level CL courses may be counted towards the major.
  • The 4-credit Integrative Experience course “The History of Literary Criticism” (CL394HI) is required for all majors. It is typically offered in the Spring.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take courses that focus on diverse geographical and/or linguistic regions, historical periods, and genres or media.
  • No more than 6 Independent Study credits may be counted towards the major.
  • The Junior Year Writing requirement is fulfilled by CL357 (“Writing Matters”), offered every Fall. This course fulfills a General Education requirement and does not count towards the major.

GPA Requirements

  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in all courses counting towards the major.
  • No courses counting towards the major may be taken pass/fail.

Honors

For information about Honors in Comp Lit, please contact the Comparative Literature Honors Coordinator, Professor Don Levine (delevine@llc.umass.edu).


Career paths for Comparative Literature majors

advertising • branding • copyeditor • corporate communications • consulting • education • film and television industry • graduate school • human resources • interpreter • IT journalism • law librarian • literary agent • marketing • medicine • multi-media production • online market research • proofreader • paralegal • publishing • public health • real estate broker • translator • theater industry • freelance writer • speech writer • technical writer

Some of the languages spoken in Comparative Literature at UMass

Arabic • Catalan • Early Irish • English • French • German • Greek • Hungarian • Italian • Latin • Malay • Polish • Portuguese • Russian • Spanish • Wolof • Yiddish

Comparative Literature majors have friends around the world

Our majors often study abroad during a semester, summer, or academic year.

Related programs at UMass

Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies • Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies • Medieval Studies Certification Program • Translation Center

Comparative Literature majors are often double majors in

Art History • Chinese • Classics • Communication • English • French • German • Italian • Japanese • Judaic Studies • Linguistics • Spanish