Comparative Literature


One of the country’s earliest comparative literature programs, the Department of Comparative Literature boasts a rich history of global and trans-historical thinking, internationally renowned faculty, and eminent visiting scholars. MAPH students can choose to focus all of their coursework in the Department or complement their research in Comparative Literature with classes in other subject areas, such as Cinema and Media Studies, Classics, Gender and Sexuality, Germanic Studies, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English Language and Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and South Asian Languages and Civilizations.

Selected Faculty


Loren Kruger

Theory and History of Drama and Performance in Africa, Europe and the Americas; Marxist and Decolonial Cultural Theory; intersections between performance and visual culture.

Thomas Pavel

French Literature and Intellectual History, Literary Criticism, Linguistics, Philosophy

Haun Saussy

Classical Chinese Poetry and Commentary, Comparative Study of Oral Traditions, Pre-20th-Century Media History

Sample Courses

CMLT 33700 - How to do Things with South Asian Texts? Literary Theories (Sascha Ebeling)
This course provides an overview of different methods, approaches, and themes currently prevalent in the study of South Asian texts from various periods, including translation, book history, literary history, textual criticism, genre theory, literature and colonialism, cultural mobility studies, and comparative literature/new philologies.

CMLT 40010 – Ruins (Françoise Meltzer and Jas’ Elsner)
The goal of the course is to see how ruin gazing and its depictions (textual, imagistic, photographic, etc.) change from the ancients (Greek and Roman), to the Romantic use of ruins as a source of (pleasurable) melancholy, to the technological “advances” in targeting and decimating civilian populations that describe the Second Word War.

CMLT 30905 - Literatures of “Eurasia” (Leah Feldman)
Exploring literatures produced across Eurasia, this course will trace the intellectual history of the orientalist conception of Eurasianism, including conceptions of race and ethnicity that it produced, and examine connections forged between Eurasianist ideologies and conceptions of language, geography and biology.

CMLT 30610 - The Task of the Self Translator (Na'ama Rokem)
Can the author betray herself in the act of translation? This seminar will examine the self-translator as a figure who challenges conventional models of translation and cross-cultural circulation. We will read classical texts in translation theory, recent work thematizing self-translation, and literature written by bilingual authors and constituted by self-translation.

CMLT 33302 - Kurosawa and his Literary Sources (Olga Solovieva)
This interdisciplinary course focuses on ten Akira Kurosawa films based on literary sources, ranging from Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Georges Simenon, and Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, and Arseniev. It will combine film analysis with close reading of relevant literary sources and be contextualized by political, economic, and cultural postwar Japanese history.

A more complete listing is available through the Department of Comparative Literature course page.

Recent Comparative Literature Thesis Projects

“The Art of Literature in Ethical Inquiry: Seeing the ‘Life’ of Morality in Literature through Hegel’s Aesthetics and Anna Karenina
Gerad Gentry, MAPH ’11
Advisor: David Wellbery

“Pelleas et Melisande: Language and Symbol in Maurice Maeterlinck’s Portrayal of Ineffable Experience”
Scott Stogner, MAPH ’11
Advisor: David Wray

“The Widening Circle: The Reception of Solzhenitsyn in America”
Michael Huguenor, MAPH ’12
Advisor: Bernard Harcourt

“Seduction, Perversity, Disguise and Spiritual Combat in a Late-Ming Short Story”
Xiaxia Sun, MAPH ’16
Advisor: Haun Saussy