Comparative Literature, Bachelor of Arts College of Letters & Science

Comparative Literature is a dynamic major whose own self-definition is constantly shifting. Once mostly limited to the study of western European literature and its Greco-Roman classical past, today Comparative Literature has become a global interdisciplinary study of literature in original languages and other media (including cinema, television, fine arts, and opera, for example). Thus, we can define Comparative Literature as the study of literature and culture across national boundaries and throughout historical time.

The Program

Both the major and the minor programs in Comparative Literature allow students to combine courses in one or more national literature departments with courses in Comparative Literature. The introductory course sequence (COM 001-COM 004) provides both an overview of ancient to contemporary literature and film and offers intensive practice in analytical thought. In addition, any one of the courses in the sequence satisfies the university composition requirement. All readings in undergraduate Comparative Literature courses are in English, but majors take upper division courses in at least one foreign literature in the original language.

Students majoring in Comparative Literature choose a first and second literature of concentration, one of which may be English. After the introductory sequence, each student's major course work is divided between courses in the two literatures of concentration and Comparative Literature courses. These Comparative Literature courses encourage students to take a broad view of a historical period, a theme, a genre, or a literary movement. The wide variety of options in the program permits great flexibility and encourages interdisciplinary connections among literature and philosophy, psychology, history, and the arts. Each student's plan of study must be approved by the major advisor at the beginning and end of each calendar year.


All Comparative Literature majors and minors must consult with their advisor, individually, at least once at the beginning and once at the end of each academic year.

Major Advisor

Consult the Department office.

Career Alternatives

A Comparative Literature major offers an excellent enhancement to pre-professional training, preparing students for graduate study in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and other science fields as well as law and  business, besides of course journalism and publishing, teaching, or graduate study in literature.

Honors & Honors Program

Students, who meet the grade point requirement for graduation with honors and complete the requirements established by the College of Letters and Science, may be recommended by the department for graduation with high honors or highest honors on the basis of an evaluation of their academic achievements in the major and in the honors project in particular. Entrance into the honors program requires that a student have completed at least 135 units with a minimum grade point average of 3.500 in courses counted toward the major.

Candidates must write a senior thesis under the direction of a faculty member approved by the major advisor. For this purpose, in addition to fulfilling all other major requirements, honors candidates must enroll in 6 units of COM 194H during the first two quarters of the senior year.

Teaching Credential Subject Representative

See the Teaching Credential/M.A. Program.

Education Abroad Options

The department of Comparative Literature encourages students to study abroad, in the Summer Abroad program, the Quarter Abroad Program, or the Education Abroad Program. With the approval of a major advisor, applicable courses taken abroad may be accepted in the major or minor programs.

Graduate Study

The Comparative Literature Program offers the Ph.D. degree with a strong emphasis on individual research under the supervision of a faculty member. Candidates for the Ph.D., in addition to research of a comparative nature, study three literatures (one of which may be English and/or American) in the original languages, acquiring an extensive knowledge of the overall development of one. Students may choose to focus on a special topic instead of on a third literary tradition.

Within this framework, each student's program will be tailored to individual interests, and may center on a major historical period, such as the Renaissance or the modern age; a genre, such as lyric poetry, epic, drama, or the novel; or any other special emphasis approved by the Graduate Advisor.


For admission to the Ph.D. Program candidates should have an undergraduate major in literature and reading ability in three foreign languages. The Group requires three letters of recommendation and a sample of recent written work, and it is recommended that students submit their GRE scores.

The major requirements below are in addition to meeting University Requirements & College Requirements; unless otherwise noted. The minimum number of units required for the Comparative Literature Bachelor of Arts is 56.

Preparatory Subject Matter
COM 001Major Works of the Ancient World4
or COM 002 Major Works of the Medieval & Early Modern World
COM 003Major Works of the Modern World4
or COM 004 Major Works of the Contemporary World
Two other lower division courses in Comparative Literature; selected from COM 001-COM 053C excluding the COM 010 series; cannot include the two required courses in the COM 001-COM 004 series:8
Fairy Tales, Fables, & Parables
Myths & Legends
Literature of Fantasy & the Supernatural
Utopias & Their Transformations
The Short Story & Novella
Travel & the Modern World
Introduction to Women Writers
Dramatic Literature
Introduction to Poetry
Humans & the Natural World
Literature of the Abnormal Psyche
Animals in Literature
Ethnic Minority Writers in World Literature
Literature of East Asia
Literature of South Asia
Literatures of the Islamic World
Preparatory Subject Matter Subtotal16
Depth Subject Matter
COM 195Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature (to be taken in the spring quarter before graduation.)4
Choose from any number of COM 100-COM 180 upper division courses, five courses can be selected from COM or other humanities departments in consultation with the major advisor; excludes COM 098, COM 099, COM 198, COM 199.36
World Cinema
Hong Kong Cinema
Japanese Cinema
Writing Nature: 1750 to the Present
Women Writers
Gender & Interpretation in the Renaissance
Shakespeare & the Classical World
Thematic & Structural Study of Literature
Introduction to Critical Theoretical Approaches to Literature & Culture (recommended for the junior year.)
Critical Reading & Analysis
The Grotesque
Representations of the City
Myth in Literature
Modern Jewish Writers
Mystical Literatures of South Asia & the Middle East
Colonial & Postcolonial Experience in Literature
Literature of the Americas
Literature of the Americas (Taught in Latin America)
The Forms of Asian Literature
African Literature
Classical Literatures of the Islamic World 600-1900
The Ramayana
War & Peace in Literature
The Detective Story as Literature
Women in Literature
The Modern Novel
The Modern Drama
Writing Love & War in South Asia
Biography & Autobiography
The European Middle Ages
The Renaissance
Baroque & Neoclassicism
The Enlightenment
Caribbean Literatures
Caribbean Literatures
Literatures of the Modern Middle East
The Epic
The Novel
Comparative Study of Major Authors
Realism & Naturalism
The Avant-Garde
The Contemporary Novel
Partition Literature: South Asia
A Story for a Life: The Arabian Nights
Sakuntala: The Story of a Ring
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
Selected Topics in Comparative Literature
Selected Topics in Comparative Literature (Taught Abroad)
Depth Subject Matter Subtotal40
Total Units56