Curriculum Overview 

The minor in Comparative Literary Studies investigates the development of literature in an international and historical context. In this program, students study foundational works of literature from a variety of historical periods and national traditions in order to understand the diverse ways in which literary processes unfold in different social milieus and the interrelationships among different literary traditions. The study of genres, periods and themes across diverse cultures promotes “liberal education” in its truest sense, by enabling students to see beyond the parochial constraints of any single literary tradition.

Since antiquity, humanity has produced literary documents that serve as a repository of knowledge and wisdom, offering us the opportunity to reflect on the human experience. In addition to inspiring, literature enables us to see the ways in which other cultures are like our own, since we can discern in their literatures basic commonalities of form and theme that ground and sustain all peoples from otherwise diverse cultural, aesthetic and linguistic backgrounds.

The study of literary works offers a rich field of study for scholars from a broad range of academic disciplines. Because literature has always served as both outlet and inspiration for artists, historians (and makers of history), social thinkers and musicians, understanding literature prepares students in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to participate actively in the global exchange of ideas.

A minor in Comparative Literary Studies consists of six courses. One of these is the required core course, LIT 101 Introduction to Comparative Literary Studies. The other five are electives; at least two of these must be at the 200 level or higher.

Courses Offered 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (WP) World Perspectives requirement.

101. Literatures of the World:
Introduction to Comparative Literary Studies. (H)

Study of literature as a common human enterprise from ancient times to the present day, across linguistic and national boundaries. Development of vocabulary and concepts for the analysis of literary genres, themes and historical periods of literary development. Focus on literary texts from various eras, cultures and languages. Readings will be in English. 

220. The World of the Novel. (H)
Since the time of its rise as a cultural force in the eighteenth century, the novel has changed our sense of reality and ourselves. It became a form that has reshaped the literary universe. Readings in this course will include works by Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, Fedor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Willa Cather, and Vladimir Nabokov.  

315. Introduction to Literary Theory. (H)
This course focuses on the big ideas that animate literary criticism, from sexuality to the unconscious, race to colonialism, signification to deconstruction. We study questions such as: What is subjectivity? How do words get their meaning? Where does gender come from? Our goal is to see literary texts, but also the world around us, in new and challenging ways. Students enrolling in this course should have taken at least one college-level literature course. Same as ENG315.  

Approved Courses for Electives 

The courses listed below have been approved as Comparative Literary Studies electives. Other courses, such as topics courses, may be approved by Jon Stone, chairperson of Comparative Literary Studies. Students should be aware that some of these courses have prerequisites.

LIT 110. Global Theatre Perspectives. Same as TND 110.

LIT 162. Life and Times of German Fairy Tales.  Same as GST 162.

LIT 182. Tolkien’s Mythology. Same as ENG 182.

LIT 211. The Bible as Literature. Same as ENG 211.

LIT 214. Russian Novel from Pushkin to Tolstoy (19th Century). Same as RUS 214.

LIT 215. Magic and Mayhem in French Fairy Tales. Same as FRN 215.

LIT 218. Narrative Journeys in Arabic Literature. Same as ARB/AFS 218.

LIT 230. Classical Myth. Same as CLS 230.

LIT 231. Ancient Laughter. Same as CLS 231.

LIT 233. Religion in 20th Century Jewish Literature. Same as JST/RST 233.

LIT 253. Epic and Romance. Same as ENG 253.

LIT 255. African Literature. Same as AFS/ENG 255.

LIT 315. Latin Comedy. Same as CLS 315.

LIT 352. Madonnas, Mothers, and Virgins: Medieval Religious Women. Same as ENG 352.

LIT 354. Létranger. Same as FRN 354.

LIT 359. La France Occupée. Same as FRN 359.

LIT 363. Reading Characters in the Atlantic World. Same as ENG 363.

RST 112. Judaism. Same as JST 112.

RUS 217. Russia: The 20th Century in Print and Film.



  • LIT 110. Global Theatre Perspectives. 
  • LIT 182. Tolkien's Mythology
  • LIT 203. Medieval British Literature.