Comparative literature is the international, interdisciplinary study of literary and other texts as modes of human expression. Courses in Comparative Literature examine literary works from many national traditions, and also study the relations between literature and the other arts. The Comparative perspective includes insights from philosophy, history, linguistics, sociology, the media, and the other human sciences.
The Comparative Literature Department at UMass Amherst offers personalized academic major tracks as well as a large array of comprehensive and unique courses. We in the Comparative Literature Department are dedicated to our students' academic growth and advancement, which we manifest in our in depth programing as well as our student centric advising and support.
Students may pursue the study (and translation) of texts in Hebrew, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Classical Chinese, Old Irish, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese as well as English. Through the various dimensions of these texts—whether oral, literary, or visual—the student may address questions of audience, authority, marginality, the difference between writing and print, the status of representation, etc.: the scope of individual inquiry remains open.
Our undergraduate major offers several different tracks, allowing students to customize their course of study. Students may chose a language intensie path, specializing in two or three languages. Others pair language and literature with in-depth study of another discipline (for example, history, art, economics, philosophy, film, political science, etc.). Comparative Literature majors must select 15 credits from these courses, along with upper-level courses in at least two other departments, with the guidance of their advisor. See the specific requirements for the Major, Minor, and Honors. To better understand how a major might be structured, see our sample course plans.
Our 100 and 200 level courses are open to everyone. Courses at the 300-500 levels are more specialized: Comparative Literature and Foreign Language majors have the opportunity to use the languages they are studying by reading the original texts. 300-400 level courses are open to all students with language proficiency. For more information on our courses, see our course list.