Research Clusters

Classical Reception

From an early date, the graduate program in Comparative Literature has included as a major focus of study the afterlives of classical cultures. In recent years, as the field of classical reception has burgeoned, faculty and graduate students have also made important contributions to a number of the newer emphases within the field, including cultural studies, the theory of reception, translation studies, the visual arts, and global classics.

Comparative Literature Faculty
Cooperating Departments
Recent and Current Dissertations
  • Gregory Baker, ‘Half-read Wisdom’: Classics, Modernism and the Celtic Fringe (2013)
  • Brian Ballentine, How to Do Things with Hard Words: The Uses of Classical Borrowings in the English Renaissance (2010)
  • Kristi Eastin, Virgil and the Visual Arts (2009)
  • Philip Walsh, Comedy and Conflict: The Modern Reception of Aristophanes (2008)

Contact: Kenneth Haynes


Literature & Philosophy

The intersections of literature and philosophy are of interest to a number of faculty in Comparative Literature. Focus on literary theory and philosophical aesthetics, continental philosophy and critical theory, literature as philosophy, and questions of politics, ethics, and cultural formations. Particular strengths in literatures in English, French, German and Italian.

Comparative Literature Faculty
Cooperating Departments
 Recent and Current Dissertations
  • Teresa Villa-Ignacio, “Commemorative Ethics: Elegiac Affinities in Contemporary French, Francophone, and United States American Poetry.”
  • Signe Christensen, “Communities in contemporary Fiction: A Space for Becoming through Exposure.”
  • Susan Solomon, "New Writing, Modernism and Intermedial Textuality"

Contact  Susan Bernstein 


Literature of the Americas

Faculty and students investigate the literatures of the Americas written in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, from the early modern period to the present. Their comparative work addresses distinctions within the geographic regions of Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States, and it also seeks to understand relations among these regions, and with the rest of the world more broadly. Translation as both linguistic practice and cross-cultural exchange is a particular interest of several faculty members.

Comparative Literature Faculty
Cooperating Departments
Recent and Current Dissertations
  • Hilary Kaplan, “Distributed Generation: Transnational Ecopoetics in the Twenty-First Century”
  • Catalina Ocampo, “Critical Fictions in the Americas”
  • Geoffrey Shullenberger, “Uncanny Influences: Freud, Argentina, and the Literary Uses of Paranoia”
  • Kelley Kreitz, Foreign Correspondence: Nineteenth-century News and Literature in Latin America and the United States (2010)
  • Laetitia Iturralde, Out of the Void: Writing ‘Lo Argentino’ in France (2007)

ContactEsther Whitfield


Literatures of the Middle East

The literary and other cultural productions of the Middle East, both modern and pre-modern, are central to the research of several professors in Comparative Literature and related departments. We explore a number of emphases, ranging from modernism and poetry, post-colonial theory, and contemporary visual and media culture to intellectual history. We are keenly interested in the interrelations of cultural knowledge, history, and political regimes in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian literature, and we are committed to comparative studies between Europe and the Orient, as well as within Islamicate literatures.

Comparative Literature Faculty
Cooperating Departments
Recent and Current Dissertations
  • Qussay al-Attabi, “Poetics and Politics of Modern Iraq”
  • Ghenwa Hayek, “Dislocations: Space, Nation, and Identity in Lebanese Fiction”
  • Chana Morgenstern, “Aesthetics and Political Division in Israel/Palestine: Anti-Partition Literary Culture, 1948-1990”
  • Stefanie Sevcik, “The Silence of Algeria's Illegitimate Children: Public and Private Language in the French-Algerian War”

Contact: Elias Muhanna 


Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Renaissance and early modern letters and cultures can be best studied comparatively. International Latinity, the developing European vernaculars and translation as both linguistic practice and cross-cultural exchange are interests of departmental and cooperating faculty working in the field. The Renaissance as a cultural formation, the recovery of the classical past, the formation of early modern states and the discovery of the "new world." 

Comparative Literature Faculty
Cooperating Departments
Recent and Current Dissertations
  • Brian Ballentine, How to Do Things with Hard Words: The Uses of Classical Borrowings in the English Renaissance (2010)
  • Nora Peterson, Signs of the Self: Involuntary Confessions of the Flesh in Early Modern Literature
  • Cristina Severius, The Birth of Consciousness out of Conscience, 1570-1630

Contact:  Karen Newman