We live in an age of rapid globalization, from the pleasures of the Internet to the problems of mass migration. Comparative and World Literature is the perfect place to explore those global transformations.

Many students are interested in studying a variety of literatures and cultures in English, and for them we offer a major in World Literature; if you know another language besides English, you can major in Comparative Literature, studying literature and culture in their original languages.

Both majors train students in critical theory and analysis, and both offer the benefits of a global perspective on literature and culture, a perspective increasingly important for careers in law, international relations, government service, marketing, advertising, teaching, film making, and more.

Our main requirement: think comparatively and globally. 

The Department of Comparative and World Literature is global by design; our professors and graduate student TA’s come from all parts of the world, speak many languages, and are proficient in the literatures and cultures of Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. We offer a wide variety of courses in literature, critical theory, film, and other forms of visual culture. We also provide considerable personal attention to our students.

What can I do with my degree?

Both the major in Comparative Literature and the major in World Literature offer a sound general education which can lead in any number of career directions. Many of our majors go on to graduate school, but others head for other fields, such as law school, editing and publishing, library science, translation, international studies, diplomacy, medical school, sociology, political science, and divinity school. Alumni have repeatedly confirmed for us the effectiveness of our majors in preparing them for their chosen careers: critical analysis, foreign language proficiency, writing skills. Recent B.A.’s have gone on to graduate school at Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, as well as working with Teach for America.

What classes do I take?

Our students select from a wide variety of classes (including courses taken outside the program), but typically take most of the courses in our “great books” series (great works of literature from European and American traditions, CWL 241-242, and great works from Asian and African literatures, CWL 189-190), core courses for our majors such as “Literature and Ideas,” CWL 202, and individual seminars on topics ranging from “The Politics of Eroticism, East & West” to “The Cold War on Film.”