BA in Comparative Literature

The major in Comparative Literature is designed for students whose interest in literature extends beyond the borders of a single national literary tradition or language. Majors learn to read literature in one or more foreign languages and to trace the transformations and travels of literary genres and texts across time and space. They explore the connections of literature with history, philosophy, politics, and literary theory, and learn how literature intersects with other cultural forms such as film, drama, the visual arts, music, and new media. The practice and theory of translation are also an important part of the comparative approach to literature.

At the core of the major in Comparative Literature are courses introducing Western, East Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern literary traditions in comparative perspective. These courses introduce students to the global diversity of literary forms and genres while acquainting them with the methods of comparative literary study. Meanwhile, students meet with advisors to put together a program of study that best suits their interests and goals.

In addition to the three required introductory courses (selected from CAS XL 222, XL 223, XL 224, and XL 225), majors in Comparative Literature take three interrelated courses in two literary traditions, one of which must be in a language other than English. They also take two courses in comparative literature (XL) beyond the introductory series. In the spring of the senior year, all concentrators come together in the Senior Seminar (CAS XL 479).

A major in Comparative Literature is an excellent foundation for further study at the graduate level or for practical translation work. It also prepares students to work in any field that calls for critical thinking, strong writing skills, competence in a foreign language, and a sophisticated understanding of cultural difference and diversity.

Twelve 4-credit courses with a grade of C or higher are required. Internships taken on Study Abroad programs may not be credited toward a major in Comparative Literature.

Language Requirement for the Major

Regardless of their literatures of emphasis, all majors must pursue the study of one modern language besides English through at least the sixth semester (L_ 304 or L_ 312 or equivalent); or Latin through CL 351; or Ancient Greek through CL 391. Acquiring a second foreign language is strongly encouraged. This study may be pursued concurrently with the coursework of the major.

Students who have received credit for these levels of language study through AP equivalency must take at least one BU course that is numbered at a higher level than the level they hold AP credit for and that requires knowledge of the language in question; this course may not, except in the case of CL 351 (see item 2 below), be counted toward any other requirement of the major.

Required Courses

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are 4 credit hours.

  1. Three of the four “Introduction to Comparative Literature” courses:
    • CAS XL 222 Introduction to Comparative Literature: Western Literature (in English translation)
    • CAS XL 223 Introduction to Comparative Literature: Middle Eastern Literature (in English translation)
    • CAS XL 224 Introduction to Comparative Literature: East Asian Literature (in English translation)
    • CAS XL 225 Introduction to Comparative Literature: South Asian Literature (in English translation)

    These may be taken in any order. CAS CC 101 and 102 together may be substituted for CAS XL 222.

  2. Three interrelated courses in a single non-English literature:
    • in modern languages, CAS L_ 350 and two others, L_ 351 or above;
    • in Latin or Ancient Greek, CAS CL 212 or CL 262 and two other  CL 300-level and above courses with readings in Latin or Greek (courses principally on history, religion, or other mostly non-literary aspects of ancient culture do not qualify).

    With approval of advisor, a course studying the same literary tradition in English translation may be substituted for one of these courses. In the case of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian literature, with approval of advisor two courses in English translation may be permitted. In the case of Latin or Ancient Greek (unlike in the modern languages), the course used to fulfill the comparative literature major’s language requirement (i.e., CAS CL 351 or CL 391) may simultaneously be counted as one of the three literature courses.

  3. Three interrelated courses in another literature, chosen from one of the following:
    • three courses in English-language literature numbered CAS EN 363 or above; or
    • three courses in a single literature in MLCL or romance studies: CAS L_ 350 and two others, L_ 351 and above; or
    • three courses in either Latin or Ancient Greek literature: CAS CL 212 or CL 262 and two others, CL 300-level and above with readings in Latin or Greek (courses principally on history, religion, or other mostly non-literary aspects of ancient culture do not qualify).

    With approval of advisor, a course studying the same literary tradition in English translation may be substituted for one of these courses. In the case of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian literature, with approval of advisor two courses in English translation may be permitted. In the case of Latin or Ancient Greek (unlike in the modern languages), the course used to fulfill the comparative literature major’s language requirement (i.e., CAS CL 351 or CL 391) may simultaneously be counted as one of the three literature courses. If a student’s first literature (under item 2 above) is Latin, the second may not be Ancient Greek, and vice versa.

  4. Two additional courses numbered CAS XL 300 or above or cross-listed with such a number. A cross-listed course may be counted either as an XL course or (where appropriate) as a course in one of the student’s two literatures, but not as both. Students who have completed both CAS CC 201 and CC 202 receive major credit for one course toward this requirement. CAS XL 401 and 402 may not be applied to this requirement.
  5. CAS XL 479, the senior seminar.

From among the six courses in a student’s two major literatures and the two additional XL courses (i.e., from among items 2, 3, and 4 above), at least one course must deal principally with literature from before the twentieth century.