Comparative Literature

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 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.

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).

Minor in Comparative Literature (1141)

Six 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.