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 201 Introduction to Comparative Literary Studies. The other five are electives; at least two of these must be at the 200 level or higher.
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.
201. 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)
As Jonathan Culler states, “Theory offers not a set of solutions but the prospect of further thought. It calls for commitment to the work of reading, of challenging presuppositions, of questioning the assumptions on which you proceed.” Students in this course will be introduced to theoretical schools and concepts that shape the study of literature and the practice of literary analysis. Students enrolling in this course should have taken at least one college-level literature course. Recommended for students considering graduate studies in English. Same as ENG 315.
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 182. Tolkien's Mythology.
- LIT 230. Classical Myth.
- LIT 233. Religion in 20th Century Jewish Literature.
- LIT 253. Epic and Romance.
- LIT 315. Latin Comedy.
- RST 112. Judaism
- RUS/LIT 214. Russian Novel from Pushkin to Tolstoy (19th Century).
- RUS 217. Russia: The 20th Century in Print and Film.
- TDF 110. Foundations of World Theatre.