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Office: Building 260, Rooms 127-128

Mail Code: 94305-2031

Phone: (650) 723-3566


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Courses offered by the Department of Comparative Literature are listed under the subject code COMPLIT on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Department of Comparative Literature offers courses in the history and theory of literature through comparative approaches. The department accepts candidates for the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. The department is a part of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

The field of Comparative Literature provides students the opportunity to study imaginative literature in a wide array of contexts: historical, formal, theoretical, and more. While other literary disciplines focus on works of literature within national or linguistic traditions, Comparative Literature draws on multiple contexts in order to examine the nature of literary phenomena from around the globe and from different historical moments, while exploring how literature interacts with other elements of culture and society. We study fictional narratives, performance, and poetry as well as cinema, music, and emerging aesthetic media.

Along with the traditional models of comparative literature that compare two or more national literary cultures and examine literary phenomena in light of literary theory, the department encourages study of the relationship between literature and philosophy and the enrichment of literary study with other disciplinary methodologies. Comparative Literature also embraces the study of aspects of literature that overgo national boundaries, such as transnational literary movements or the creative adaptation of particular genres to local cultures. In each case, students emerge from the program with enhanced verbal and writing skills, a command of literary studies, the ability to read analytically and critically, and a more global knowledge of literature.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Comparative Literature

The mission of the undergraduate program in Comparative Literature is to develop students’ verbal and written communication skills, their ability to read analytically and critically, and their global knowledge of literary cultures and the specific properties of literary texts. The program provides students with the opportunity to study imaginative literature with several methods and a consciousness of methodology.

A Comparative Literature major prepares a student as a reader and interpreter of literature through sophisticated examination of texts and the development of a critical vocabulary with which to discuss them. Along with providing core courses that introduce students to major literary phenomena in a comparative frame, the program of study accommodates the interests of students in areas such as specific regions, historical periods, and interdisciplinary connections between literature and other fields such as philosophy, music, the visual arts, gender and queer theory, and race and ethnicity. Attention to verbal expression and interpretive argument serves students who will proceed into careers requiring strong language and communication skills and cross-cultural knowledge of the world.

Learning Outcomes (Undergraduate)

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. the ability to interpret a literary text in a non-native language or to compare literary texts from different linguistic traditions, which may be read in translation.

  2. a self-reflective understanding of the critical process necessary to read and understand texts.

  3. skills in writing effectively about literature.

  4. skills in oral communication and public speaking about literature.

Graduate Programs in Comparative Literature

The department offers a Doctor of Philosophy and a Ph.D. minor in Comparative Literature.

Learning Outcomes (Graduate)

Through completion of advanced course work and rigorous skills training, the doctoral program prepares students to

  1. make original contributions to the knowledge of Comparative Literature and to interpret and present the results of such research,

  2. teach literary analysis and interpretation at all levels with broad historical, cultural and linguistic understanding, and

  3. apply such analysis, interpretation and understanding to a range of fields and vocations.

Faculty in Comparative Literature

Director: Russell Berman

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Burcu Karahan

Professors: Russell Berman (also German Studies), Adrian Daub (also German Studies, on leave Spring), Amir Eshel (also German Studies), Roland Greene (also English), Joshua Landy (also French and Italian), Haiyan Lee (also East Asian Languages and Cultures), David Palumbo-Liu, Patricia Parker (also English, on leave Spring), Joan Ramon Resina (also Iberian and Latin American Cultures), José David Saldívar, Ramón Saldívar (also English), Ban Wang (also East Asian Languages and Cultures)

Associate Professors: Vincent Barletta (also Iberian and Latin American Cultures, on leave), Monika Greenleaf (also Slavic Languages and Literatures), Alexander Key, Indra Levy (also East Asian Languages and Cultures)

Assistant Professor: Marie Huber (on leave)

Senior Lecturers: Cintia Santana, Vered K. Shemtov

Lecturers: Burcu Karahan, Margarita Rosario (Mellon Fellow)

Courtesy Professors: Margaret Cohen, Marisa Galvez, Héctor Hoyos, Bernadette Meyler, Ato Quayson, Nancy Ruttenburg, Gabriella Safran, Kathryn Starkey, Elaine Treharne, Alex Woloch

Courtesy Associate Professors: Mark Greif, Christopher Krebs, Jisha Menon, Grant Parker, Jonathan Rosa, Dafna Zur

Courtesy Assistant Professors: Roanne Kantor, Fatoumata Seck

Emeriti: (Professors) John Bender (also English), John Freccero (also French and Italian), Hans U. Gumbrecht (also French and Italian), Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi (also French and Italian), Mary Pratt (also Iberian and Latin American Cultures)