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Major in Comparative Literature (B.A.)

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Stories without borders.

Stories are the anchor of cultures and civilizations both ancient and modern. They connect people in powerful ways. In the comparative literature major, you’ll explore how literature — as well as film, music, and new media — can build bridges across national borders, languages, and historical eras. You’ll enjoy a wide-ranging, multicultural program of studies, building your expertise to identify and examine an author’s message, intended audience, and communication techniques.

Through coursework and collaborations with faculty, you’ll hone your critical thinking and writing skills, and gain a nuanced understanding of cultural differences and diversity. As you do, you’ll grapple with some of life’s most important questions, and develop an understanding of the human experience.

Catalog Requirements for:

Why Study Comparative Literature at Clark?

  • Study in a diverse, multicultural environment, and explore learning opportunities abroad — students previously have taken classes through Clark’s Henry J. Leir Luxembourg Program, and one Clarkie completed his LEEP project through a 17-day journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
  • Challenge and critique social constructions through robust literary analysis — from the concept of nationalism to the notion of human rights as debated during the Age of Enlightenment.
  • Build competency in a language other than your own, and demonstrate your knowledge by completing a literature course in that language.
This is Clark

Our Stories

Aviv Hilbig Bokaer

Reading while riding the Trans-Siberian Railway

For his summer research project, Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer, a double-major in comparative literature and international development and social change, immersed himself in the Russian literary canon while journeying 7,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He later received a grant from Fulbright Austria to teach English to high school students in Vienna.

This experience has given me such an incredible amount of insight into how I interact with literature and what it is about texts that I value. Literature is such an important component to understanding cultures and building bridges between others and myself.

The Comparative Literature Path

The comparative literature major is one of several offered through Clark’s Language, Literature and Culture Department. As a comparative literature major, you will take at least eight courses in literature, film, or related arts from several departments and programs, including language, literature and culture; English; art history; screen studies; and theatre arts. These courses must include The National Imagination and a capstone course.

Courses in the major emphasize a critical approach to texts, with an eye on their cultural influences and impact. This approach may take the form of play production, seminars in the translation of lyric poetry and drama, and supervised work in contemporary critical theory (i.e., relations between text and performance, spectator positioning, and reader response).

You also are required to take two courses in a foreign language at the intermediate level or above, and to demonstrate reading knowledge of a foreign language by completing a literature course in that language.

Skills you will learn include:

  • How to research literature, structure related arguments, and communicate your thoughts orally and in written form.
  • How to write a textual analysis.
  • How to use literature to understand and affect the world around us.

J. Fannin King Memorial Award for Excellence in Comparative Literature
The J. Fannin King Memorial Award for Excellence in Comparative Literature is awarded to an outstanding senior in comparative literature.

During your junior year, you might be accepted into the comparative literature honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors thesis topics are:

  • Cinema of the Defeated: The Postwar Crisis of Masculinity in Twentieth-Century German and Japanese Films
  • National Contexts: Globalization and the Family Unit in Latin American Literature
  • Recovering Writers: Literary Works from ‘Rightists’ and ‘Counter-Revolutionaries’ after the Cultural Revolution

Building your foundation

The Clark Experience

We structure our curriculum around Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP), which connects classroom learning with action through world and workplace experiences.

Learn More

Faculty and Programs in the Department of Language, Literature and Culture