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Comparative Literature

The concentration in Comparative Literature enables students to study literature in cross-cultural perspectives. The aim of the program is to encourage students to study a varied and illustrative range of literary topics rather than the total development of a single literary tradition.  True to the spirit of Brown’s New Curriculum, a concentration in Comparative Literature affords great academic freedom.  For example: advanced courses in any literature department at Brown count for concentration credit; although English is commonly one of the languages that students apply to their Comparative Literature studies, basically any language--ancient or modern--supported at Brown may form part of a Comparative Literature concentration program.  In essence, concentrators study a generous range of literary works--from Western cultures, both ancient and modern, to Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic--and develop a focused critical understanding of how cultures differ from one another.  Comparative Literature differs from other literature concentrations largely through its international focus and its broad-gauged view of art and culture in which the study of languages is combined with the analysis of literature and literary theory. All students take a course in literary theory and have the opportunity to complete a senior essay. 

Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, listed below, with questions.

There are three concentration tracks in Comparative Literature, as follows:

Track 1: Concentration in Comparative Literature with two languages

  • Complete prerequisites(s) for taking 1000-level courses in your two languages by Semester V (students working in non-European languages may be allowed more latitude; be sure to consult a concentration advisor about constructing an individualized plan).
  • Comparative Literature 1210 (COLT 1210), Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • TEN advanced literature courses (generally 1000-level courses), including Comparative Literature 1210 and:
    1. At least TWO courses in the literature of each of your languages, and the remainder drawn chiefly from among the offerings of Comparative Literature and English, and other national literature departments.
    2. ONE COURSE chiefly devoted to EACH of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    3. ONE literature course chiefly devoted to EACH OF THREE of the following five historical periods:
      • Antiquity
      • Middle Ages
      • Renaissance/Early Modern
      • Enlightenment
      •  Modern. Please note that the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries count as one period, the Modern Period.
Examples of courses that may fulfill the requirements, above, include but are not limited to the following courses. Students are encouraged to discuss class choices with their advisor.
The World of Lyric Poetry
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, The Men and the Myths
The 1001 Nights
Reading the Renaissance
Rites of Passage
Introduction to Scandinavian Literature
Crisis and Identity in Mexico, 1519-1968
Murder Ink: Narratives of Crime, Discovery, and Identity
New Worlds: Reading Spaces and Places in Colonial Latin America
Comedy from Athens to Hollywood
The Arabic Novel
Confession, Autobiography, Testimony
How Not to Be a Hero
Tales and Talemakers of the Non-Western World
Civilization and Its Discontents
Classical Mythology and the Western Tradition
Banned Books of Middle East
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Global Modernism and Crisis
Classical Tragedy
A Mirror for the Romantic: The Tale of Genji and The Story of the Stone
The Fiction of Relationship
Global Detective Fiction
The Modernist Novel: Alienation and Narration
Critical Approaches to Chinese Poetry
Poetry, Art, and Beauty
Modern Arabic Poetry
Poets, Poetry, and Politics
Reading Modernist Poetry
Nationalism and Transnationalism in Film and Fiction
Shéhérazades : Depicting the "Orientale" in Modern French Culture
Irony
The Promise of Being: Heidegger for Beginners
Literary Translation Workshop
Literature and Medicine
Travel, Tourism, Trafficking through the Ages
War, Anti-War, Postwar: Culture and Contestation in the Americas
Making a List
Early Modern Women's Writing
Literature and Judgement
The Balkans, Europe's Other?: Literature, Film, History
Politics of Reading
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Literary Translation
Moderns and Primitives
Discourses of the Senses
Literature and Politics in the Age of Revolution

Track 2: Concentration in Comparative Literature with three languages

  • Complete prerequisites(s) for taking 1000-level courses in your two languages by Semester V (students working in non-European languages may be allowed more latitude; be sure to consult a concentration advisor about constructing an individualized plan).
  • Complete the same requirement for your third language before Semester VII (the above proviso for students working in non-European languages also holds here).
  • Comparative Literature 1210 (COLT 1210), Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • TEN advanced literature courses (generally 1000-level courses), including Comparative Literature 1210 and:
    1. At least TWO courses in the literature of each of your languages, and the remainder drawn chiefly from among the offerings of Comparative Literature and English, and other national literature departments.
    2. ONE COURSE chiefly devoted to EACH of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    3. ONE literature course chiefly devoted to EACH OF THREE of the following five historical periods:
      • Antiquity
      • Middle Ages
      • Renaissance/Early Modern
      • Enlightenment
      • Modern. Please note that the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries count as one period, the Modern Period.
Examples of courses that may fulfill the requirements, above, include but are not limited to the following courses. Students are encouraged to discuss class choices with their advisor.
The World of Lyric Poetry
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, The Men and the Myths
The 1001 Nights
Reading the Renaissance
Rites of Passage
Crisis and Identity in Mexico, 1519-1968
Murder Ink: Narratives of Crime, Discovery, and Identity
Introduction to Scandinavian Literature
New Worlds: Reading Spaces and Places in Colonial Latin America
Comedy from Athens to Hollywood
The Arabic Novel
Confession, Autobiography, Testimony
How Not to Be a Hero
Tales and Talemakers of the Non-Western World
Civilization and Its Discontents
Classical Mythology and the Western Tradition
Banned Books of Middle East
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Classical Tragedy
A Mirror for the Romantic: The Tale of Genji and The Story of the Stone
The Fiction of Relationship
Global Modernism and Crisis
Global Detective Fiction
The Modernist Novel: Alienation and Narration
Critical Approaches to Chinese Poetry
Poetry, Art, and Beauty
Modern Arabic Poetry
Poets, Poetry, and Politics
Reading Modernist Poetry
Nationalism and Transnationalism in Film and Fiction
Shéhérazades : Depicting the "Orientale" in Modern French Culture
Irony
The Promise of Being: Heidegger for Beginners
Literary Translation Workshop
Literature and Medicine
Travel, Tourism, Trafficking through the Ages
War, Anti-War, Postwar: Culture and Contestation in the Americas
Making a List
Early Modern Women's Writing
Literature and Judgement
The Balkans, Europe's Other?: Literature, Film, History
Politics of Reading
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Literary Translation
Moderns and Primitives
Discourses of the Senses
Literature and Politics in the Age of Revolution

Track 3: Concentration in Literary Translation

  • Complete prerequisites(s) for taking 1000-level courses in your two languages by Semester V (students working in non-European languages may be allowed more latitude; be sure to consult a concentration advisor about constructing an individualized plan).
  • Comparative Literature 1210 (COLT 1210), Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • Comparative Literature 1710 (COLT 1710A, COLT 1710C, COLT 1710D). Comparative Literature 2720 strongly urged.
  • ONE course or MORE in Linguistics, drawn from among these courses: Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences 0410, Anthropology 0800, English 1210, Hispanic Studies 1210 or an acceptable substitute.
  • FIVE or SIX advanced literature courses (generally 1000-level courses), including Comparative Literature 1210 and:
    1. At least TWO courses in the literature of each of your languages, and the remainder drawn chiefly from among the offerings of Comparative Literature and English, and other national literature departments.
    2. ONE COURSE chiefly devoted to EACH of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    3. ONE literature course chiefly devoted to EACH OF THREE of the following five historical periods:
      • Antiquity
      • Middle Ages
      • Renaissance/Early Modern
      • Enlightenment
      • Modern. Please note that the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries count as one period, the Modern Period.
  •  TWO workshops or MORE in Creative Writing
  •  A senior project to consist of:

A substantial work in translation (length will vary depending upon language and genre);

A critical introduction outlining the method used and specific problems encountered, and commenting on the history of the original work together with other translations, if any. For thesis, the student may register for COLT 1990, which will be taken in addition to the ten required courses listed above. Successful completion of the thesis constitutes Honors. (See Guidelines for Honors Theses).

Examples of courses that may fulfill the requirements, above, include but are not limited to the following courses. Students are encouraged to discuss class choices with their advisor.
The World of Lyric Poetry
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, The Men and the Myths
The 1001 Nights
Reading the Renaissance
Rites of Passage
Crisis and Identity in Mexico, 1519-1968
Murder Ink: Narratives of Crime, Discovery, and Identity
Introduction to Scandinavian Literature
New Worlds: Reading Spaces and Places in Colonial Latin America
Comedy from Athens to Hollywood
The Arabic Novel
Confession, Autobiography, Testimony
How Not to Be a Hero
Tales and Talemakers of the Non-Western World
Civilization and Its Discontents
Classical Mythology and the Western Tradition
Banned Books of Middle East
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Classical Tragedy
A Mirror for the Romantic: The Tale of Genji and The Story of the Stone
The Fiction of Relationship
Global Modernism and Crisis
Global Detective Fiction
The Modernist Novel: Alienation and Narration
Critical Approaches to Chinese Poetry
Poetry, Art, and Beauty
Modern Arabic Poetry
Modern Arabic Poetry
Poets, Poetry, and Politics
Reading Modernist Poetry
Nationalism and Transnationalism in Film and Fiction
Shéhérazades : Depicting the "Orientale" in Modern French Culture
Irony
The Promise of Being: Heidegger for Beginners
Literary Translation Workshop
Literature and Medicine
Travel, Tourism, Trafficking through the Ages
War, Anti-War, Postwar: Culture and Contestation in the Americas
Making a List
Early Modern Women's Writing
Literature and Judgement
Politics of Reading
Introduction to the Theory of Literature
Literary Translation
Moderns and Primitives
Discourses of the Senses
Literature and Politics in the Age of Revolution

For additional information, please visit the Comparative Literature website (http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Comparative_Literature/) or see the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Ourida Mostefai.