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Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature | Courses | Faculty

430 Herter Hall

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Elizabeth Petroff
Office: 413 Herter Hall
Phone: (413) 545-5812

Director of Program: Professor William Moebius. Director of Undergraduate Studies: Elizabeth Petroff. Professors Dienes, Gentzler, Lenson, Petroff, Portuges, Rothstein, Tymoczko; Associate Professor Levine; Lecturers Couch, Hicks. Associated Faculty: Smethurst (Afro-American Studies), Gjertson, Miller, Seaman (Asian Languages and Literatures); Kinney, Young (English); Maddox, Hayes, (French and Italian); Byg, Lennox, Sullivan (German and Scandinavian Studies); Gordon (History); Ben-Ur (Judaic and Near Eastern Studies); Marentes, Velez-Sainz, Patai, (Spanish and Portuguese).

The Field

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.

Three tracks lead to the B.A. degree in Comparative Literature. All emphasize 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

Students select one of the following four interdepartmental options:

I. General Language/Literature Track
12 upper-level credits in the major literature
12 upper-level credits in the minor literature
15 upper-level credits in Comparative Literature

II. Advanced Language/Literature Track

A. With elementary work in a third language
12 upper-level credits in the major literature
9 upper-level credits in the minor literature
6 credits of elementary work in a third language, preferably ancient
15 upper-level credits in Comparative Literature

B. With upper-level work in a third language
12 upper-level credits in the major literature
6 upper-level credits in the minor literature
6 upper-level credits in a third literature
15 upper-level credits in Comparative Literature

III. Literature and a Related Discipline
12 upper-level credits in the department/program of the related discipline
12 upper-level credits in a major literature
6 upper-level credits in a minor literature
15 upper-level credits in Comparative Literature
For a full description of Film Study as a related discipline, see description available from the Comparative Literature Program.

Requirements and Recommendations

Related Departments/Programs

A. Language Departments/Programs: Only upper-level courses in literature (not literature in translation) may be counted toward the major. To define “upper-level,” Comparative Literature recognizes each department’s or program’s definition as applied to its own majors. Usually, a course numbered 240 or higher is considered to be upper-level; please inquire at particular departments/programs for details.

B. One 3-credit course in Creative Writing may be counted upon written request (including a description of the particular course and its relation to the student’s major program) to the Undergraduate Studies Committee of Comparative Literature.

Comparative Literature Courses

A. Courses at or above the 300 level will count toward the major. In addition, one 200-level COMP-LIT course may be counted. Students may count a maximum of two film courses for the COMP-LIT segment of the major, one of which must be 400-level or above.

B. A senior seminar in literary theory is required. Students should consult with an adviser before their senior year to learn which course(s) will fulfill this requirement in the appropriate year. Students selecting the third major track may use the term paper to focus on the connection between literature and their related discipline. Any COMP-LIT graduate course satisfies the theory requirement.

C. 391 Literary Criticism is required. It is usually taught spring semester only.

D. A non-Western or African American humanities course is strongly recommended.

E. No more than 6 credit hours of Independent Study courses may be counted toward the major, except with written approval of specific requests by the Undergraduate Studies Committee.

F. COMP-LIT 397B Junior Year Writing meets the University requirement for a second writing course. This course is in addition to the 15 required upper-level credits of Comparative Literature, and is offered in the fall semester.

Grade Restrictions

No course graded lower than C may be counted toward the major. No courses counting toward the major may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis.

Education Abroad
Just as the Program of Comparative Literature often plays host to exchange students from abroad, universities in Brazil, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and in other countries have provided opportunities for semester and year-long study to majors in Comparative Literature. Interested students should consult International Programs, tel. (413) 545-2710, for specific information on such overseas study. Costs are usually very reasonable, most credits transfer to the university, and financial aid is available.

Career Opportunities

Education/Teaching: Elementary, high school and college-level teaching, English as a Second Language in the U.S. and abroad, textbook and educational policy writing.

Business: Banks, travel organizations, publishing houses, shipping firms, mail-order firms, sales organizations, advertising agencies, public relations firms, the media.

Government Agencies: Foreign service researcher or writer, diplomatic corps, archivist, public relations or civilian support for military installations abroad, cultural affairs consultant, Peace Corps/Vista member.

Professional: Librarian, archivist, minister, lawyer specializing in international law or international labor relations, medical practitioner, foreign correspondent.

Arts: Artist/writer, editor, arts management, consultant, museum researcher, and curator.

The Minor

The Minor requires 15 credits of Comparative Literature courses at the 200 level and above, with a minimum of nine credits at the 300 level and above. Proficiency in one foreign language is required. All courses should be selected with the help of an adviser.

A. 200-level courses: a maximum of two such courses. This part of the requirement should be fulfilled, if possible, prior to taking courses numbered 300-599, since 200-level courses are introductory to the discipline.

B. Courses numbered 300-599: the student must select a minimum of three such courses. One 200-level course may count toward this part of the requirement if the student makes special arrangements with the instructor to do work in a foreign language.

Proficiency in the foreign language will be determined by the Comparative Literature Undergraduate Studies Committee on the basis of level of prior foreign language courses and grades, or a university exam, or the equivalent.

If English is not the native language, students can offer their native language to fulfill the foreign language requirement, but must then show evidence of proficiency in English.

Transfer credits: The program will allow a maximum transfer of 6 upper-level Comparative Literature credits. The determination of transfer credits toward the minor will be made by the Undergraduate Studies Committee upon petition by the student.

The Pass/Fail option is not available for courses to be credited toward the minor.

Independent study courses: The student may count toward the minor only one 3-credit independent study course taken in the Comparative Literature program at the 300 level or above. Any such course requires knowledge of and work in a minimum of one foreign language.

Comparative Literature | Courses | Faculty