Comparative Literature Major and Minor

Students interested in examining literature through an international perspective and with an eye to its socio-cultural functions will find a vibrant academic home in the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Comparative Literature department. Drawing on faculty and resources from both colleges, we offer a rigorous major that embodies the highly interdisciplinary nature of the field and fuels the diverse interests of our students.

Curriculum & Courses

Students analyze literary texts from two distinct national cultures, and consider them comparatively. Our curriculum develops in each of our majors the tools they need to do this: advanced language skills in at least one language other than English; an understanding of the distinctive character of the literature of particular national cultures; and a familiarity with interpretive methods derived from a range of disciplines. Students do advanced in two languages (one of which can be English) with sufficient mastery to engage with the literature and culture in the original.

Language options include Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Latin, ancient Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Hebrew. Our program also encompasses courses based in anthropology, philosophy, religion, history, and classical studies; African, Latin American, East Asian and gender and sexuality studies; and music, visual arts, and history of art.

  • Major

    • COML H200 or COML B200 (Introduction to Comparative Literature), normally taken by the spring of the sophomore year.
    • Six advanced literature courses in the original languages (normally at the 200 level or above), balanced between two literature departments (of which English may be one): at least two (one in each literature) must be at the 300 level or above, or its equivalent, as approved in advance by the advisor.
    • One course in critical theory.
    • Two electives in comparative literature.
    • COML H398 or COML B398 (Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature).
    • COML H399 or COML B399 (Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature).
  • Minor

    Requirements for the minor are COML 200 and COML 398, plus four additional courses—two each in the literature of two languages. At least one of these four courses must be at the 300 level. Students who minor in comparative literature are encouraged to choose their national literature courses from those with a comparative component.

    NOTE: Both majors and minors should work closely with the co-chairs of the program and with members of the steering committee in shaping their programs.

Research & Outreach

All majors produce a senior thesis based on original research and carried out in conjunction with our capstone seminars, Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature and Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature.

After Graduation

Majors complete our program prepared to pursue advanced study in Comparative Literature, or in departments of modern languages and literatures, or other related programs in literary and cultural studies. Recent graduates have entered graduate programs in Comparative Religion, Italian, Spanish, German, Religion, Film Studies, Literature, and Education. Many have gone on to pursue other paths, applying the sharp analytical skills and deep appreciation for cultural identity that they developed in the major to fields that include business, law, medicine, international relations, journalism, publishing, and translation.

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