Department of Modern Languages & Comparative Literature

The Department of Modern Languages & Comparative Literature (MLCL) offers courses in Comparative Literature and in Arabic, Chinese, German, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, Japanese, Korean, Persian (Farsi), Russian, and Turkish languages and literatures. Majors combine their coursework with Study Abroad, international internships, and programs in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, as they acquire insight into other cultures and into dimensions of literature that cut across national boundaries. The BA prepares students to enter an increasingly global workplace permeated by cultural and linguistic diversity.

Majors and Minors in Modern Languages & Comparative Literature

Students may choose a major or a minor in Comparative Literature, Chinese,  German, Japanese, or Russian. Minors are also available in Arabic, Hebrew, and Korean.

Language and literature majors frequently prepare themselves for careers or advanced study in international relations, government, education, journalism, and translating. Students in premedical or prelaw programs find the majors and minors in MLCL a satisfying way to broaden their programs of study and many graduates have entered professional programs in these fields.

The department encourages CAS students to obtain the greatest benefit from their foreign language requirement by pursuing a minor in their chosen language. Advanced courses in a language or its literature increase proficiency in that language, present the great works and epochs of the literature, and acquaint students with the contemporary culture and that culture’s roots in the past. Students plan a minor program with their advisor, consisting ordinarily of six courses in their language or literature.

Foreign Language Specialty Residences

Chinese, German, and Japanese houses enable majors, minors, and students taking courses in one of these languages to use the language daily and to strengthen their knowledge of the language and culture of the countries. Chinese House is at 172 Bay State Road; German House is at 209 Bay State Road; Japanese House is at 206 Bay State Road. For more information, visit

Language Center

The Geddes Language Center, on the fifth floor of 685 Commonwealth Avenue, in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) building, includes language laboratories, specially equipped classrooms, computers, audiovisual production facilities, screening rooms, and libraries of audiovisual materials. Use of these facilities is required for many courses and is assigned for supplementary work in other courses.

Study Abroad Programs

Programs in Dresden, Haifa, Istanbul, Kyoto, Rabat, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo offer intensive language study as well as literature, civilization, and linguistics courses. Detailed information is available from the Study Abroad office and online.

Courses in Literature or Civilization in English Translation

The following list is a sampling of the department’s courses that are offered regularly with lecture, discussion, and readings in English. Any of these courses may be taken for humanities divisional credit. Some satisfy major and minor requirements within specific programs. Full course descriptions for current offerings can be found in the Courses section of this Bulletin.

  • CAS LC 250 Masterpieces of Classical Chinese Literature
  • CAS LC 251 Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Literature
  • CAS LC 280 Chinese Classics in Today’s World
  • CAS LC 283 Chinese Civilization
  • CAS LG 282 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
  • CAS LG 283 The Faust Tradition
  • CAS LG 387 Weimar Cinema
  • CAS LG 453 Romanticism
  • CAS LH 280 Modern Hebrew Poetry
  • CAS LH 283 Israeli Culture through Film
  • CAS LJ 250 Masterpieces of Japanese Literature
  • CAS LJ 251 Modern Japanese Literature
  • CAS LJ 282 The Samurai in Myth and History
  • CAS LJ 283 Modern Japanese Culture in Cinema
  • CAS LJ 480 Japanese Women Writers
  • CAS LK 250 Introduction to Korean Literature
  • CAS LK 383 Modern Korean Culture through Cinema
  • CAS LN 225 Tradition and Modernity in Indian Film and Literature
  • CAS LR 285 Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
  • CAS LR 355 Chekhov: The Stories and Plays
  • CAS LR 383 Russian Literature and Spirituality
  • CAS LT 281 Istanbul at the Crossroads
  • CAS LY 283 Contemporary Arab Women Writers
  • CAS LY 441 1,001 Nights in the World Literary Imagination
  • CAS LZ 380 Persian Epic and Romance
  • CAS LZ 381 Rumi and Persian Sufi Poetry
  • CAS XL 260 Gateway to Asian Cultures
  • CAS XL 342 Travel Writing and the Muslim World
  • CAS XL 459 Primo Levi Within Holocaust Literature
  • CAS XL 470 Topics in Comparative Literature (depending on subject of topic offered)
  • CAS XL 520 Theory of the Novel
  • CAS XL 540 Theory and Practice of Literary Translation