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:
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.
a self-reflective understanding of the critical process necessary to read and understand texts.
skills in writing effectively about literature.
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
make original contributions to the knowledge of Comparative Literature and to interpret and present the results of such research,
teach literary analysis and interpretation at all levels with broad historical, cultural and linguistic understanding, and
apply such analysis, interpretation and understanding to a range of fields and vocations.
Faculty in Comparative Literature
Director: Amir Eshel
Director of Graduate Studies: David Palumbo-Liu
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Alexander Key
Professors: Russell Berman (also German Studies, on leave Winter), Adrian Daub (also German Studies), 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), Joan Ramon Resina (also Iberian and Latin American Cultures), José David Saldívar, Ramón Saldívar (also English), Ban Wang (also East Asian Languages and Cultures, on leave Winter and Spring)
Associate Professors: Vincent Barletta (also Iberian and Latin American Cultures), Monika Greenleaf (also Slavic Languages and Literatures), Alexander Key, Indra Levy (also East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Assistant Professor: Marie Huber
Senior Lecturers: Cintia Santana, Vered K. Shemtov
Lecturers: Burcu Karahan, Margarita Rosario (Mellon Fellow), Marie-Pierre Ulloa, Nathan Wainstein (Dean’s Fellow)
Courtesy Professors: Margaret Cohen, Marisa Galvez, Bernadette Meyler, Ato Quayson, Jonathan Rosa, Nancy Ruttenburg, Gabriella Safran, Kathryn Starkey, Elaine Treharne, Alex Woloch
Courtesy Associate Professors: Mark Greif, Héctor Hoyos, Christopher Krebs, Jisha Menon, Grant Parker, 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)
Graduate Advising Expectations
The Department of Comparative Literature is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. The overall goal of advising, both in the DLCL and the department, is to help graduate students make academic and career choices wisely, and think ahead, in order to craft a long-term plan for their graduate student career and beyond. When most effective, the advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the advisor and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the advisor and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity. Advising is both an academically invaluable form for the transmission of expertise, as well as a key aspect of creating a strong departmental and Stanford community.
Faculty advisors guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.
Upon enrolling, students plan their work under the direction of the Director of Graduate Studies or a faculty member designated by the program. When the student selects a more specialized advisor, the transition should involve oral or written communication between both advisors and the student concerning the student's progress, goals, and expectations. It is possible for doctoral students to choose two main advisors at the dissertation stage, provided all agree this is academically sound.
Faculty advisors should meet with assigned students to discuss their selection of courses and to plan from a broader, longer-term perspective, including: discussion of program milestones and a basic timeline; an overview of Department and DLCL offerings beyond courses; student goals and interests and DLCL or Stanford programs that may be relevant; and (for doctoral students) how to transfer previous graduate coursework.
Faculty advisors and graduate students should meet at least once per quarter to assess the advisee's course of study, performance over the past quarter, and plans for the next quarter, as well as longer term plans. If a student has two advisors, the student should meet at least once per quarter with each advisor and at least once per year with both advisors at the same time.
For doctoral students, faculty should help their advisees plan for exams, research grant applications, develop research projects, and plan ahead for both the academic job market and the job search beyond academia.
Faculty advisors should provide feedback about the student's progress to the department during the annual review process. For more information about the annual review, see the Graduate Handbook.
Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.
Upon enrolling, students plan their work under the direction of the Director of Graduate Studies or a faculty member designated by the program. As the student develops a field of expertise, the student chooses a program advisor to replace the Director of Graduate Studies role. The transition should involve oral or written communication between both advisors and the student concerning the student's progress, goals, and expectations.
Graduate students and faculty advisors should meet at least once per quarter to assess the advisee's course of study, performance over the past quarter, and plans for the next quarter, as well as longer term plans. If a student has two advisors, the student should meet at least once per quarter with each advisor and at least once per year with both advisors at the same time.
Students should consult with their advisors on all academic matters, including coursework, conference presentations and publications, research travel, and teaching plans.
Students should provide a thorough self-evaluation each year for the annual review. For more information about the annual review, see the Graduate Handbook.
For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the Graduate Advising section of this bulletin.