Undergraduate Program

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Professor Jay Garcia

Comparative literature is an innovative major that encourages students to follow their passion for literature by venturing beyond national and disciplinary boundaries. In the spirit of our times, students delve into literature from all over the world and explore its intersections with other media and disciplines, such as cinema studies, art history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, history, and linguistics. Comparative literature departmental course offerings include classes in world literature and interdisciplinary studies where students work intensively with a distinguished faculty of scholars in African, Caribbean, Chinese, European and Anglo-American, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Islamic, and Russian and Eastern European literary and cultural studies. At the same time, the major encourages students to take advantage of the rich offerings of courses in other NYU departments or study abroad.

The guidelines of our program allow students great flexibility in shaping a course of study suited to their own intellectual goals. While all students must take four classes originating in the major, our commitment to a global and interdisciplinary outlook means that the remaining six courses required for the major can be taken in other departments or, taking advantage of NYU study abroad opportunities, even on other continents! All students planning to major in Comparative Literature register with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who works closely with them to develop a coherent sequence of courses suited to their individual interests. Periodical advising sessions with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and a remarkable student-faculty ratio help our students make the most of the wide range of possibilities that define the major.

A comparative literature major could lead to the advanced study of literature at the graduate level but could just as readily be a strong basis for advanced degrees and/or careers in journalism, publishing, international relations, international law, cultural studies, medicine, philosophy, education, public policy, film and entertainment, and the information industries of computer software and the World Wide Web.

Student Learning Goals

Upon completion of our program, majors are expected to have developed:

1. Advanced research and analytical skills, enabling students not only to perform a comparative examination of a given corpus of works but also to construct their own objects of study in a comparative framework and to select appropriate theoretical and methodological tools for their projects.
2. Knowledge of, and critical engagement with, the main trends in literary and cultural theories and methodologies. Furthermore, students learn about theoretical and philosophical traditions related to the study of literature.
3. Evidence of strong skills in at least one foreign language and literature, confirmed by ability to read and analyze texts in the original language, as well as to follow and develop oral and written arguments in that language.
4. Ability to produce complex oral and written arguments on literary topics from a comparative perspective.
5. A sophisticated understanding of cultural, linguistic, and diachronic differences, grappling with the role of translation as a communicative and interpretive practice.
6. An ability to close read literary texts spanning various traditions, periods, and genres and to relate them to other types of writing and to other arts, disciplines, and cultural practices.