Undergraduate Program

Program Overview

The undergraduate programs for concentration in Comparative Literature enable 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.
 
Concentrators in Comparative Literature should be willing to try different approaches to literature and to examine literary and aesthetic problems with sustained curiosity. 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.

Concentration Requirements

True to the spirit of Brown’s New Curriculum, a concentration in Comparative Literature affords great academic freedom. Although the Comparative Literature concentration requirements that follow give shape and rigor to the major, they allow advanced courses in any literature department at Brown to count for concentration credit. Courses in related fields, when vitally relevant to an individual’s Comparative Literature studies, may also receive concentration credit. In other words, by no means are our concentrators limited to courses in the Comparative Literature department, though all are encouraged to take our courses because they generally enact cross-cultural work.

It is important to note that English is commonly one of the languages that students apply to a concentration in Comparative Literature. Yet, basically any language--ancient or modern--supported at Brown may form part of a Comparative Literature concentration program. While our courses are offered in English (students may read texts in their original languages), concentrators also take courses in the national literature departments of their chosen languages. We encourage and help concentrators to study abroad.

What follows are the three possible tracks of the concentration along with normative timetable expectations for each.  

The expectation for students working in a non-European language or languages is that they will at least complete the equivalent of three years of college-level language study and, before they graduate, utilize their language proficiency in at least two courses agreed upon with their concentration advisor.

Track 1: Concentration in Comparative Literature with Two Languages

  • Complete prerequisite(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, Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • Ten advanced literature courses (generally 1000-level courses), including Comparative Literature 1210 and:
    • 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.
    • One course chiefly devoted to EACH of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    • One literature course chiefly devoted to each of three of the following five historical periods: (a) Antiquity, (b) Middle Ages, (c) Renaissance/Early Modern, (d) Enlightenment, (e) Modern. Please note that the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries count as one period, the Modern Period.
      Concentration Track 1 Requirements Checklist

Track 2: Concentration in Comparative Literature with Three Lanuages

  • Complete prerequisite(s) for taking 1000-level courses in two of your 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, Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • TEN advanced literature courses (generally 1000-level courses), including Comparative Literature 1210 and:
    • 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.
    • One course chiefly devoted to each of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    • One literature course chiefly devoted to each of three of the following five historical periods: (a) Antiquity, (b) Middle Ages, (c) Renaissance/Early Modern, (d) Enlightenment, (e) Modern. Please note that the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries count as one period, the Modern Period.
      Concentration Track 2 Requirements Checklist

Track 3: Concentration in Literary Translation

  • Complete prerequisite(s) for taking 1000-level courses in your two languages before 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, Introduction to the Theory of Literature.
  • Comparative Literature 1710 (Comparative Literature 2720 strongly urged).
  • One course or more in Linguistics, drawn from among these courses: Cognitive Science 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:
    • 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.
    • One course chiefly devoted to each of the three major literary genres: poetry, drama and narrative.
    • One literature course chiefly devoted to each of three of the following five historical periods: (a) Antiquity, (b) Middle Ages, (c) Renaissance/Early Modern, (d) Enlightenment, (e) 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: 1. A substantial work in translation (length will vary depending on language and genre); 2. 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 the 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).
    Concentration Track 3 Requirements Checklist

Note:
Students in the literature tracks not taking Honors are urged, but not required, to complete a senior essay, which may be less extensive in scope and length than the Honors thesis (see Guidelines for Honors Theses in Comparative Literature) but which should constitute an integration of some aspect of their study.

Course options for fulfilling concentration requirements:
Fall 2014 |Spring 2014 | Fall 2013 | Spring 2013

Credits

  • 2 courses per semester of study abroad may be applied to the concentration, up to a total of 4 courses (for two semesters abroad). Please discuss study abroad plans with your advisor.
  • A maximum of 5 courses from external venues (study abroad; transfer credits from other institutions, including summer study) may be applied to the concentration.
  • In accordance with University policy, double concentrators are allowed a maximum overlap of 2 courses between concentrations.

Variation on the Basic Program

It is possible for a student to accommodate a junior year abroad within his/her concentration program, provided that he/she plans for it early enough. In certain cases, a freshman may wish to consider spending his/her sophomore year abroad.

Joint or double concentration programs may also be arranged if steps are taken early enough with Comparative Literature and the other department. The same is true of programs combining a concentration in Comparative Literature with a teaching certificate in English or a modern language. A student interested in such a program should consult the advisor in the Education Department and the advisor in Comparative Literature as early as possible (preferably by Semester V).