The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

What Is Comp Lit Anyway?

Comparative Literature is the study of all modes of human expression: oral, written, visual—including film and other digital technologies. Comparative Literature majors become adept in multiple cultures and disciplines. Our students study topics like visual media, gender and sexuality, literary history, colonialism, human rights and global censorship, postcolonial and diaspora studies, literary theory, film, and translation.

Majors in Comparative Literature often pursue double majors, because of the flexibility of the major, which allows them to combine their interests in multiple fields and to structure their degrees around them. For that reason, it can also be a very good minor for all other majors on campus, including STEM fields and management. A major or minor in Comp Lit will add value to any resume.

Inter-cultural experience and knowledge of languages other than English give employees an edge in nearly every field. Comparative Literature graduates pursue careers in media, law, public service, the non-profit sector, international business, and academia, among others.

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


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, and the other human sciences to the study of literature and media. 

See what's new in the department on our News page »