Undergraduate Program

The Undergraduate Major

Comparative Literature (commonly abbreviated as “Comp. Lit.”) offers students the opportunity to pursue their love of literature beyond national and disciplinary boundaries. It situates the study of literature in a 21st century global context that takes account of cultural and linguistic diversity as well as changing technologies and new media. Majors study literary texts in at least one language other than English, delving into works from the ancient as well as the modern world, and exploring cultural productions from non-Western traditions as well as the so-called “great books” of the West.  Students study literature’s intersections with other media and disciplines such as philosophy, religion, history, law, film studies, and psychoanalysis, and take courses in areas as varied as Exemplary Novels, French poetry, Russian Film, Literature & Justice, Postcolonial Popular Culture, Disaster Literature or Latin American Magical Realism. Comp. Lit. students also explore important theoretical questions: How do we define the human? How does language function in society? What is the relationship between ethics and religion? How do new technologies require us to rethink social, political, and ethical issues? How do we understand the relationship between history (events that happened) and memory (how we remember those events).

The Comp. Lit. major requires five core courses:  “Major Texts of the Western Tradition: Ancient to Medieval and Renaissance to Modern”; “Literature Beyond the Canon”; Literary Theory; and a senior seminar.  The remaining five required courses include two foreign language literature courses and three literature electives at the 300-level.  Beyond this curriculum, Comp. Lit. majors enjoy the student-run Theory Reading Group, “Café Chocolat” for more informal get-togethers, and an undergrad Comp. Lit. Colloquium featuring the best papers written in Comp. Lit. Courses, judged by a panel of graduate students and faculty.

In addition to these special research options, the department is pleased to offer its undergraduates regular opportunities for stimulating intellectual and social gatherings and discussion.

  • The Annual Undergraduate Colloquium, aims to reflect the diverse and innovative research that undergraduate students are conducting at Emory. Undergraduate paper selection for the Colloquium is highly competitive and represents a high recognition of an undergraduate's work by the professor, as well as the Comparative Literature Department. This opportunity provides undergraduates with the experience of presenting a conference paper, as well as an advantage for their résumé. Presenters will be able to share their work with peer comparative literature majors, as well as with graduate students in the field, and enter into a conversation with them.
  • The Comparative Literature Café Chocolat provide a relaxed atmosphere for a blend of intellectual discussion, friendly conversation, and chocolate with your peers. See our events page for upcoming dates and times.
  • The Undergraduate Theory Reading Group presents an opportunity to deepen student exposure to an understanding of theoretical and philosophical texts while sharing an experience of reading with fellow literary-minded students. See our events page for upcoming dates and times.

Faculty Advisors

D. Bahri (English); A. Bammer (Comparative Literature); G. Bennington (Comparative Literature and French); M. Bhaumik (Comparative Literature); P. Bing (Classics); B. Branham (Comparative Literature and Classics); M. Brownley (English); R. Cai (Chinese); M.  Carrión (Comparative Literature and Spanish); M. Epstein (Russian); S. Felman (Comparative Literature and French); A. Furman (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences); E. Glazov-Corrigan (REALC); E. Goodstein (Comparative Literature and English); L. Huffer (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies); J. Johnston (Comparative Literature and English); D. Judovitz (French and Italian); V. Loichot (French and Italian); E. Marder (Comparative Literature and French); S. Meighoo (Comparative Literature); A. Mitchell (Philosophy); C. Nouvet (French and Italian); L. Pratt (Classics); J. Quiroga (Comparative Literature and Spanish); W. Reed (Comparative Literature and English); E. Reinders (Religion); J. Robbins (Comparative Literature and Religion); T. Ruskola (Law); D. White (Comparative Literature and English)

Courses

CPLT 110 Introduction to Literary Studies. An introduction to literary studies, combined with an intensive writing approach. From the broad perspective of world literature, consideration of topics such as desire, language, and identity. Fulfills the first-year writing requirement.

CPLT 190 Freshman Seminar. Freshman-only seminar designed to engage students in various aspects of inquiry and research with close guidance of a faculty member.

CPLT 201 Major Texts: Ancient to Medieval. Representative works from the Bible, ancient Greek and Roman literature, and European literature of the Middle Ages. Emphasis on close reading of particular texts; all readings in English.

CPLT 202 Major Texts: Renaissance to Modern. Representative works of European and American literature from the sixteenth to the twentieth century in different genres. Emphasis on close reading of particular texts; all readings in English.

CPLT 203R Literatures Beyond the Canon. Texts of popular culture and literary works of ethnic minorities, non-Western writers, and women. Attention to the relationship of these writings to traditional literary forms and content.

Advanced Courses

CPLT 301 Methods in Interpretation. An introduction to a specific method of literary criticism or theoretical approach as applied through close textual interpretations.

CPLT 302 Literary Theory. Learning to read literature from a theoretical viewpoint, its formal properties, distinctive features, origins, purposes, and mode of existence; representative critics and schools from contemporary and earlier periods.

CPLT 333R Literature and Other Disciplines. A study of literary texts and their complex interplay with other disciplines (e.g. literature and psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy, literature and law, and literature and religion).

CPLT 389R Special Topics in Literature. Lively topical or theoretical approaches to a given set of literary texts or problems. May be repeated for credit when subject varies.

CPLT 489R Advanced Special Topics in Literature. This course is designed to give advanced students the opportunity to investigate intensively an area of special interest. A reading knowledge of one foreign language is prerequisite. Topics may vary, but the goal of the course remains unchanged: the courses focuses on contemporary literary theory.

CPLT 490R Comparative Literature Major Seminar. A seminar devoted to the intensive close reading of literary and other texts.

CPLT 495R Honors Thesis. Open to students with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Open to candidates for honors in their senior year.

CPLT 497P Supervised Readings. Directed studies of special topics in literature. Open to students with consent of instructor and approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.