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Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature offers the opportunity to study literatures in two languages and gain a working knowledge of a third, while encountering a range of world literatures. The program is founded on three introductory courses, Introduction to Comparative Literature, World Literature: From the Beginning to 1700 A.D., and World Literature: 1700 to the Present. In addition to focusing on particular languages, students may work in areas such as Cultural Studies, Feminist Thought, Folklore, Literary Theory, Philosophy of Aesthetics, Postcolonial Studies, Queer Studies, Rhetoric, and Visual Culture. Career opportunities include Screenwriting, Journalism, and others that require working with multiple languages and cultures.

The purpose of the Comparative Literature Program is to foster cooperation between the Department of English and the School of Languages and Cultures. The program achieves this purpose by encouraging the study of literature, by promoting the study of a second or third foreign language, and by sponsoring courses and dissertations that cut across national boundaries. Comparative Literature recognizes that some fields - classics, medieval studies, Renaissance, post-colonial - are inherently comparative and seeks to facilitate the work of students and scholars in these fields. The program also recognizes the role of other disciplines-particularly history and philosophy, but also the social sciences and psychology in developing theoretical approaches to literature. While recognizing the value of cultural studies and linguistics, and encouraging investigations based in these disciplines, the program recognizes that other areas make these disciplines their priority. By contrast, Comparative Literature takes as its special mandate the teaching and comparing of world literature, not only as social documents but also as works of art whose full appreciation depends on the study of languages, an understanding of diversity and globalization, and an appreciation of various media.

By virtue of the Program's ability to draw on the curricular strengths of several academic departments, we have the flexibility and resources to accommodate individualized plans of study for qualified students. Each student has the opportunity to do graduate-level work in the original language in the following literatures: British, Chinese, French (both continental and francophone), German, Classical Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin (classical and medieval), Portuguese (Luso-Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (both Peninsular and Spanish/American), and American literature. In addition, the student may work in areas such as Cultural Studies, Feminist Thought, Folklore, Literary Theory, Philosophy of Aesthetics, Postcolonial Studies, Queer Studies, Rhetoric, and Visual Culture. In addition to the body of knowledge and methodology appropriate to each individual program of study, students acquire a familiarity with the history, methods, and bibliography of Comparative Literature through a core seminar (ENGL 660/FLL 630, required of all incoming students in their first semester) and with the corpus of critical approaches and literary theory. In coursework pertaining to their special areas, students are strongly encouraged to design their research papers along comparative lines.

For graduate students, Comparative Literature Program offers the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.  Students should apply directly to the program through the Graduate School.  With approximately ninety faculty members in two departments, of whom a dozen or so regularly participate in Comparative Literature, the graduate program allows cross-disciplinary studies in a variety of areas, including literature, visual aesthetics, women's studies, philosophy, Afro-American and Latino studies. A range of financial resources are available to fund graduate students. Our graduate students come from China, Egypt, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Spain, India, the United States, and many other countries.

Look for Job Openings at this link.
Beate Allert: 
Director of Comparative Literature
Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Film

The Steering Committee of the Program in Comparative Literature consists of: Ahmed Idrissi Alami, Beate Allert, Elena CodaDaniel Hsieh, Shaun Hughes, and Alfred Lopez


Upcoming Events

Dr. Christian Bachmann, on tour of the United States from Germany, will present a lecture at the West Lafayette Library on September 10, 2019.  The lecture, "Sound waves and semiotic ripples: Visualizing the Invisible in European periodicals and early American Comics".  The lecture and a reception to follow, is being presented by the Comparative Literature Department and is in context with Professor Beate Allert's Ekphrasis and Visual Theory seminar.

The World Film Series Events on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 will introduce the film, "Willkommen bei den Hartmanns" (German with English).  this film will show at the Public Library.

In Spring 2020, Alumna Catalina Florescu will come to Purdue and present an interactive workship based on her work with theatre.  Alumna Catalina Florina Florescu has a new edited collection, Disjointed Perspectives on Motherhood, from Lexington Books, am Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield.  Click here for more information.

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