Undergraduate Program

The Undergraduate Major

Comparative Literature (commonly abbreviated as “Comp. Lit.”) offers students the opportunity to pursue their love of literature beyond national and disciplinary boundaries. It situates the study of literature in a 21st century global context that takes account of cultural and linguistic diversity as well as changing technologies and new media. Majors study literary texts in at least one language other than English, delving into works from the ancient as well as the modern world, and exploring cultural productions from non-Western traditions as well as the so-called “great books” of the West.  Students study literature’s intersections with other media and disciplines such as philosophy, religion, history, law, film studies, and psychoanalysis, and take courses in areas as varied as Exemplary Novels, French poetry, Russian Film, Literature & Justice, Postcolonial Popular Culture, Disaster Literature or Latin American Magical Realism. Comp. Lit. students also explore important theoretical questions: How do we define the human? How does language function in society? What is the relationship between ethics and religion? How do new technologies require us to rethink social, political, and ethical issues? How do we understand the relationship between history (events that happened) and memory (how we remember those events).

The Comp. Lit. major requires five core courses:  “Major Texts: Reading Comparatively”; “Major Texts: Literatures, Genres, Media”; "Methods of Interpretation"; "Literary Theory"; and a senior seminar.  The remaining five required courses include two courses in a language other than English (200-level or above) and three literature electives (300-level or above).  Beyond this curriculum, Comp. Lit. majors enjoy the student-run Theory Reading Group, “Café Chocolat” for more informal get-togethers, and an undergrad Comp. Lit. Colloquium featuring the best papers written in Comp. Lit. Courses, judged by a panel of graduate students and faculty.

In addition to these special research options, the department is pleased to offer its undergraduates regular opportunities for stimulating intellectual and social.

  • The Annual Undergraduate Colloquium, aims to reflect the diverse and innovative research that undergraduate students are conducting at Emory. Undergraduate paper selection for the Colloquium is extremely competitive and represents a high recognition of an undergraduate's work by the Department. This opportunity provides undergraduates with the experience of presenting a conference paper to their peer comparative literature majors, as well as with graduate students and professors in the field.
  • The Graduate Mentor Committee organizes a series of extracurricular events throughout the year where students at all levels can meet and interact with each other outside the formal classroom setting.  Events such as Trivia Night, Film Night, and the Performance Night provide a space for faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students to mix and mingle over food, drinks, and sparkling conversation.  See our events page for upcoming dates and times.

Faculty Advisors

D. Bahri (English); A. Bammer (Comparative Literature); G. Bennington (Comparative Literature and French); M. Bhaumik (Comparative Literature); P. Bing (Classics); B. Branham (Comparative Literature and Classics); M. Brownley (English); R. Cai (Chinese); M.  Carrión (Comparative Literature and Spanish); M. Epstein (Russian); S. Felman (Comparative Literature and French); A. Furman (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences); E. Glazov-Corrigan (REALC); E. Goodstein (Comparative Literature and English); L. Huffer (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies); J. Johnston (Comparative Literature and English); D. Judovitz (French and Italian); V. Loichot (French and Italian); E. Marder (Comparative Literature and French); S. Meighoo (Comparative Literature); A. Mitchell (Philosophy); C. Nouvet (French and Italian); L. Pratt (Classics); J. Quiroga (Comparative Literature and Spanish); E. Reinders (Religion); J. Robbins (Comparative Literature and Religion); T. Ruskola (Law); D. White (Comparative Literature and English)


CPLT 101 Rhetorical Com/Crit Reading
Instruction in rhetorical composition, critical reading, reflection, and writing as recursive process. Across themed sections, students engage with diverse genres. Courses share some common assignments including research writing and final student-curated portfolio with reflection project. Fulfils the first year writing requirement.

CPLT 190 Freshman Seminar
Freshman-only seminar designed to engage students in various aspects of inquiry and research with close guidance of a faculty member.

CPLT 201 Major Texts: Reading Comparatively
This course draws on classical, modern, and contemporary texts to introduce skills required for reading comparatively across national traditions and academic disciplines with an emphasis on close reading, critical interpretation, and the multiplicity of linguistic traditions around the world.

CPLT 202 Major Texts: Literatures, Genres, Media
This course introduces students to the way translation between different literatures, literary genres, and new media impacts our comparative reading of texts.

Advanced Courses

CPLT 301 Methods in Interpretation. An introduction to a specific method of literary criticism or theoretical approach as applied through close textual interpretations.

CPLT 302 Literary Theory. Learning to read literature from a theoretical viewpoint, its formal properties, distinctive features, origins, purposes, and mode of existence; representative critics and schools from contemporary and earlier periods.

CPLT 333R Literature and Other Disciplines. A study of literary texts and their complex interplay with other disciplines (e.g. literature and psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy, literature and law, and literature and religion).

CPLT 369 Modern World Literatures. Modern literatures form around the world taught in a comparative or global framework. Course may be repeated when topic changes.

CPLT 389R Special Topics in Literature. Lively topical or theoretical approaches to a given set of literary texts or problems. May be repeated for credit when subject varies.

CPLT 489R Advanced Special Topics in Literature. This course is designed to give advanced students the opportunity to investigate intensively an area of special interest. A reading knowledge of one foreign language is prerequisite. Topics may vary, but the goal of the course remains unchanged: the courses focuses on contemporary literary theory.

CPLT 490R Comparative Literature Major Seminar. A seminar devoted to the intensive close reading of literary and other texts.

CPLT 495R Honors Thesis. Open to students with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Open to candidates for honors in their senior year.

CPLT 497P Supervised Readings. Directed studies of special topics in literature. Open to students with consent of instructor and approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.