Comparative Literature

Minor in Comparative Literature (1141)

Seven courses with a grade of C or higher are required. Internships taken on study abroad programs may not be credited toward a minor in Comparative Literature.

  1. Two “Introduction to Comparative Literature” courses chosen from CAS XL 222, 223, 224, and 225. These courses may be taken in any order. CC 101 and CC 102 together may be substituted for XL 222.
  2. Two interrelated courses in a single non-English literature, chosen with advisor approval from literatures offered in the departments of Modern Languages & Comparative Literature, Romance Studies, Classical Studies (or related study abroad programs);
  3. EITHER two comparative literature courses numbered XL 300 or higher (XL 401 and 402 are excluded; CC 201 and CC 202 together may be substituted for one XL 300-level course);
    two interrelated courses in another literature, chosen from one of the following:
    ** two courses in English-language literature numbered CAS EN 310 or above; or
    ** two courses in a second non-English literature, read in the original language or in English translation
  4. CAS XL 479, the senior seminar

Major in Comparative Literature (1141)

Comparative Literature majors learn to read literature in one or more foreign languages and to trace the transformations and travels of literary genres and texts across languages, borders, and historical periods. 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.

Like all WLL majors, Comparative Literature majors begin with XL100: Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature, a team-taught course in which students meet the WLL faculty through guest lectures and get oriented in the rich diversity of the world’s literary traditions. Courses at the 200 level (XL 222, XL 223, XL 224, and XL 225) introduce Western, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South Asian regional literary traditions. Students take at least two of these courses, acquiring a comparative perspective on the global diversity of literary forms and genres.

Choosing two literatures to focus on from those taught in WLL, Romance Studies, Classics, and English, Comparative Literature majors take three courses in each. Another option is to emphasize only one non-English literature along with three upper-level XL courses focused on or on literary theory or on comparing literary works across languages. A language course beyond the CAS requirement level is built into the major, ensuring some ability to encounter literary texts in the original language. The elective XL 540, BU’s legendary seminar in literary translation, gives Comparative Literature majors the opportunity to interact with important literary translators and to hone their own translation practice. Finally, in the capstone seminar XL 479, Comparative Literature majors reconvene with all senior WLL majors, working with a faculty mentor on a final project.

Many Study Abroad courses may count for the Comparative Literature major and minor.

Required Courses:

Eleven 4-credit courses with a grade of C or higher are required.

  • CAS XL 100 Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature
  • Two courses chosen from
    • CAS XL 222 Introduction to Western Literatures
    • CAS XL 223 Introduction to Middle Eastern Literatures
    • CAS XL 224 Introduction to East Asian Literatures
    • CAS XL 225 Introduction to South Asian Literatures

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

  • Three courses in a single non-English-language literary tradition, normally in the Department of World Languages & Literatures (Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish literature), Romance Studies (French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish), Classical Studies, or related study abroad programs. Courses must focus principally on literary topics. They may be taught in English or in the original language.
  • One language course beyond the fourth-semester level in a language of the student’s foreign literature of specialization, or a literature or culture course taught entirely in the language.
  • Three literature courses in a second tradition, English or non-English, OR three XL courses numbered above XL 300.
  • XL 479 WLL senior capstone seminar: Seniors majoring in WLL come back together in XL 479, the senior capstone Students use this course to produce a substantial project in their major and share their work with other WLL seniors working in other languages. The course provides students with structure and research guidance for developing and discussing their projects, while meetings with a faculty language mentor hone students’ advanced language skills as applied to the area of their research. Student presentations build oral communication skills and the ability to describe one’s work to others. Possible final projects could include a research paper on literature, film, or popular culture; an annotated translation or work of subtitling; a video essay; or an interactive map, timeline, or other digital humanities project. Students producing excellent capstone projects will be encouraged to develop them into senior honors work.


Honors in the Major:

To graduate with honors, students will maintain a GPA in the major of at least 3.4 and will take two additional courses above the 11 required for the major:

  • one additional literature course chosen with the advisor’s approval.
  • either XL 540 (translation seminar) or XL 401 or 402 (continuation of the thesis begun in the capstone seminar).


Current students who declared a major in Comparative Literature prior to the Spring 2017 semester have the option to continue with the former Major requirements. Click here for previous major information.