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What is Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature is the study of literature and other arts and media across cultural, historical, and disciplinary boundaries. In our courses, you can explore relationships between the literatures of many cultures, and among literature, film, the visual arts, architecture, music, and other performance arts. You can also explore connections between literature and other academic disciplines, such as philosophy, history, religious studies, cultural studies, the sciences, and more.

What can you do with a degree in Comparative Literature?

You can work in virtually any field, such as:

Publishing Government Translation
Advertising Education Writing and Editing
Public Relations Entertainment Online Market Research
Marketing Public Health Law
Non-Governmental Organizations Consulting And the list goes on…
Embassies Technical Communication

Just consider some of these famous comparatists who put their Comparative Literature degrees to work…

Why study Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature offers you – the adventurous, creative student – the freedom to chart your own path through our broad range of courses and to combine our courses with those of other departments. Comparative literature encourages you to think in original and exciting ways about the relationship between literatures, arts, cultures, and environments. By providing you with the opportunity to make innovative connections among a diverse array of human arts and experiences, comparative literature prepares you for a globalized world.

Comparative Literature isn’t just for students looking for a future in the humanities, either. It trains you in the fundamental skills that can lead to success in any career path. Our courses will teach you how to express yourself effectively, how to write clearly, how to solve problems in creative and innovative ways, and how to understand and relate to people with differing opinions or background from yourself.

Don’t want to take our word for it? Listen to what others are saying…

“Writing well is a fundamental principle of the communications business, deeply appreciated by clients and all others we work with. Our business is just one of many examples where training in the humanities stands strong. Whether you are an engineer, mathematician, actor or senior executive, everyone who possesses the “grace and energy” that the humanities develops in us, can only be secure in appreciating the rich heritage they have been given.”
-Forbes, “The Difference Humanities Make in Business,” July 3, 2013
“In a recent study, Debra Humphreys from the Association of American College & Universities concludes that 95 percent of employers say that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major”. These all are skills taught at the highest level in the humanities….The issue is that engineers and most designers, by and large, create products for people whose tastes resemble their own. They simply don’t have the skill set of a humanities major — one that allows a researcher or executive to deeply understand what it is like to be an Indonesian teenager living in Jakarta and getting a new phone, or what kind of infused beverages a Brazilian 25-year-old likes and needs.”
-Washington Post “We Need More Humanities Majors,” July 30, 2013
“Business is the largest undergraduate major in the U.S. and still growing….Business education for undergraduates, however, is too often narrow, fails to challenge students to question assumptions, think creatively, or to understand the place of business in larger institutional contexts. These are the results of a national study of undergraduate business education undertaken by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, reported in this book.”
-Carnagie Foundation Studies in Higher Education, “Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Leaning for the Profession,” January 2011
“Business leaders around the world have told me that they despair of finding people who can help them solve wicked problems — or even get their heads around them. It’s not that firms don’t have smart people working with them. There are plenty of MBAs and even PhDs in economics, chemistry, or computer science, in the corporate ranks. Intellectual wattage is not lacking. It’s the right intellectual wattage that’s hard to find. They simply don’t have enough people with the right backgrounds….As Amos Shapira, the CEO of Cellcom, the leading cell phone provider in Israel, put it: ‘The knowledge I use as CEO can be acquired in two weeks…The main thing a student needs to be taught is how to study and analyze things (including) history and philosophy.’ People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.”
-Harvard Business Review, “Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities,” March 31, 2011

Curious to know more about how a humanities degree pays off over time? Click here!

Want to know more? Take a look at our upcoming courses, check out our Facebook page, visit one of our open houses, send us an email, or feel free just to drop by our department on the 9th floor of Ballantine Hall. Our doors are always open!