Comparative Literature Option

Comparative Literature Option

The English Department, in collaboration with Department of Foreign Languages, offers as one of its options the Comparative Literature Option to our students. The chief purpose of this option is to facilitate the study of literature from an international and global perspective as well as to increase in our students the sensitivity and awareness of cultural diversity that our geo-cultural circumstances increasingly demand. The option would expose our students to the study of various national literatures, the varied cultures from which these literatures emerge, foreign languages, and the comparative mode which orders and guides this wide–ranging and challenging endeavor.

The major outcomes for the Comparative Literature Option include

  • the demonstration of the critical skills needed to read, study, research and write about a variety of world literature with coherence and the requisite critical vocabulary;
  • the formation in the students of a diverse and truly global perspective of texts, historical periods, genres, styles, authors, and larger cultural considerations;
  • the development of a multi-cultural sensitivity and appreciation; and
  • a deepening and broadening of the students' knowledge of language and the various texts that express and shape it.


The Comparative Literature Option is available for students who complete 18 credits selected from the English and Foreign Language curricula and complete at least two semesters studying one foreign language or demonstrate foreign language proficiency at the intermediate level.

The students choosing the option will select:

Two English courses from World Literature I (Eng 231), World Literature II (Eng 232), Poetry (Eng 441), Drama (Eng 442), Prose Fiction (Eng 443) and Literary Criticism (Eng 451).

Two courses from the Humanities Series in the Department of Foreign Languages: French Literature (Humn 210), German Literature (Humn 220), German Authors (Humn 221), Russian Literature (Humn 270), or Spanish (Humn 280).

One of the following courses in the Department of Foreign Languages: Classical Mythology (Humn 202), Greek Literature (Humn 240), Latin Literature (Eng 431), and, upon approval from the advisors in both the English and Foreign Languages Departments, may substitute an upper level foreign language course for a humanities series course.


Students who pursue the Comparative Literature option should

  • use the comparative literary techniques to gain a broad, global knowledge and appreciation of various world literatures, the socio-historical elements that produced and influence them, and the wider cultures which they both inform and by which they are informed
  • acquire at least an intermediate – level proficiency in a foreign language, a tool which should help them become more productive global citizens and facilitate their personal, cultural and professional experiences
  • incorporate into their professional and civic lives the realities of cultural diversity as they are so richly and vibrantly expressed in established literary texts and newer and emergent works and schools of thought
  • become well acquainted with the common and contrasting elements of various literary genres, styles, literary periods, cultural/aesthetic movements, authors, and schools of criticism, and also be able to evaluate and define the salient components in these
  • be able to use the technical literary terminology and various approaches to literary study in order to develop critical thinking skills and insights that will enrich the student both personally and professionally
  • develop a deeper understanding of the human condition, in all its rich variety, through the study of the cultural, psychological, philosophical, and artistic ideas/elements offered by literary works. This might include visits to museums and attendance at dramatic performances
  • prepare formal analyses of texts and apply the various concepts from literary theory and criticism to the exposition and discussion of texts, authors, and larger cultural consideration
  • demonstrate knowledge of the trans-cultural development in literary works and the ability to evaluate the relationships between literature and other arts — particularly film, theater, painting, music and architecture — and other fields of knowledge — such as philosophy or psychology
  • understand the relationship between language — written, symbolic, spoken — and the wider culture that issues into an integral, coherent vision of literature, the human person, and the world.
  • live life more fully, in the words of Matthew Arnold in "Literature and Science," as a result of a deeper, diverse immersion in humanist studies