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The mission of the Comparative Literature program is to develop and strengthen the critical thinking and interpretive skills necessary for a comparatist approach to literature. Comparative Literature fosters in students an understanding of literature from a cross-cultural, transhistorical, and interdisciplinary perspective. It provides training for the analysis of texts from around the globe, and the relationship between literature and other arts, disciplines, and cultural phenomena. Comparative Literature encourages the study of texts in their original languages, and examines translation as an interpretive act. It aims to instill in students an enduring interest in literature and the arts, a vibrant intellectual engagement with aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual issues, and an awareness of the depth and complexity of human expression across cultural, linguistic, and temporal boundaries.

Statement of Learning Goals for Comparative Literature Majors

  1. The ability to think critically and analytically about human expression in cross-cultural contexts, including the ability to construct interpretive arguments that are clear, coherent, and persuasive.
  2. The ability to analyze and criticize texts using comparatist approaches, and the knowledge of at least one language other than English, when possible.
  3. A general familiarity with the histories of literature in their international contexts, and with significant literary relationships in one or more of the following areas: African, Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and American-North, South, and the Caribbean).
  4. An understanding of the processes and theories of translation.
  5. An understanding of the differences between primary and secondary texts.
  6. Knowledge of major literary genres, including novel, poetry, drama, epic, and other types of prose and poetic forms.
  7. Knowledge of the relationships of literature and the arts (including film, architecture, music, and such visual arts as painting, photography, sculpture, and digital media).
  8. An understanding of methods of literary criticism and critical theory.