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Comparative Literature

Program Overview

B-531 Padelford

Comparative literature works across national and regional boundaries to explore the relationships among multiple literary traditions. Comparative literature also focuses on the relationship of literature to the other arts and to fields of knowledge such as philosophy, anthropology, history, and media or cultural studies.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
B-534 Padelford, Box 354338
(206) 685-1642
tcoop@uw.edu

Comparative Literature offers the following programs of study:

  • Bachelor of Arts with a major in comparative literature
  • Bachelor of Arts with a major in comparative literature (cinema studies)
  • Minor in comparative literature (literature minor only)

The literature option includes core course requirements in literary analysis (C LIT 300), literary theory (C LIT 400), and regional literatures (C LIT 320, C LIT 322, C LIT 323).

The cinema studies option is structured around two series of required core courses devoted to film theory and film history.

Bachelor of Arts

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: Courses in foreign languages, classics, history, philosophy, literature, and writing. Sufficient preparation in a foreign language (completion of second year or higher) to enable the student to take a 300- or 400-level literature or national film course by the senior year.

Department Admission Requirements

Completion of C LIT 250, C LIT 251, or C LIT 252; minimum 2.00 overall GPA; completion of one course fulfilling either College of Arts and Sciences English composition requirement or the W (writing) requirement (5 credits).

Cinema Studies: Same as above, plus completion of C LIT 270, C LIT 271, or C LIT 272.

Major Requirements

Literary Studies Option: 50 credits

  1. C LIT 250, C LIT 251, or C LIT 252 (5 credits).
  2. C LIT 400 (5 credits).
  3. Three differently-numbered courses from among C LIT 320, C LIT 321, C LIT 322, or C LIT 323; C LIT 360, C LIT 361, or C LIT 362. At least one must come from each series (15 credits).
  4. One 300-level cinema studies course (5 credits).
  5. One additional course in comparative literature at the 300 or 400 level (5 credits).
  6. Remaining (15 credits) to be earned in 300- and 400- level literature courses from among the offerings of Comparative Literature and the following participating departments:  Asian Languages and Literature, Classics, English, Germanics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Romance Languages and Literature, Scandinavian Studies, and Slavic Languages and Literatures.  
  7. One course in the program must focus on literature written before 1800.

Cinema Studies Option: 50 credits

  1. 15 credits from cinema studies core courses, with at least one course in film theory and one course in film history (C LIT 301, C LIT 302, C LIT 303, C LIT 310, C LIT 311, C LIT 312, C LIT 313).
  2. 10 credits from C LIT core requirements (C LIT 400, and one course from C LIT 320, C LIT 321, C LIT 322, C LIT 323).
  3. One national cinema course (5 credits).
  4. Remaining credits to be earned in recommended 300- and 400-level cinema elective courses offered by Comparative Literature or any UW department. See departmental website for list of cinema elective courses.
  5. A maximum of 5 credits of internship (C LIT 491) may be applied toward the cinema studies option with approval of the faculty internship coordinator.

Minor

Minor Requirements: 30 credits to include C LIT 250, C LIT 251, or C LIT 252; C LIT 400; and two differently-numbered courses from among C LIT 320, C LIT 321, C LIT 322, and C LIT 323; and the remaining credits in upper-division literature courses offered through Comparative Literature and the following participating departments:  Asian Languages and Literature, Classics, English, Germanics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Romance Languages and Literature, Scandinavian Studies, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. 

A minor is not available for the cinema studies option.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The study of comparative literature provides training in the analysis and critique of varied kinds of social texts and discourses. It stresses the centrality of historical and cross-cultural awareness for effective interpretation of both verbal and visual texts. Students earning the degree in comparative literature may pursue advanced work at the MA and PhD. level in language and literature programs, or allied curricula in film studies, philosophy, intellectual history, and cultural studies. They may aim for degrees in education, specializing in language arts, foreign language teaching, or both. Comparative literature majors may also find jobs in fields where liberal arts skills, such as strong writing ability and fluency in foreign languages, are valued. Cinema studies majors often seek positions associated with film production and distribution.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors). With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements. With Distinction (Departmental Honors, by invitation). See adviser.
  • Undergraduate Research, Internships, and Service Learning: See adviser for internship information.
  • Department Scholarships: Some financial support available for student film projects.
  • Student Organizations/Associations:

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
B531 Padelford, Box 354338
(206) 543-7542
clitgrad@uw.edu

The Department of comparative literature offers a program of study with faculty members from the following participating departments: Asian Languages and Literature, English, French and Italian Studies, Germanics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Scandinavian Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Study leads to a Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students concentrate on graduate courses in comparative literature and specialize in two or more national literatures of major interest to them, studied in the original language. With permission, a PhD. aspirant may choose as a third area of study a field outside of literature (e.g., philosophy, religion, art, political thought). On receiving the advanced degree, the student is qualified for teaching and research in comparative and general literature, as well as the language and literature of specialization.

Master of Arts

Admission Requirements

Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, English, or any other literature, or equivalent background; advanced reading knowledge in one language other than English.

Degree Requirements

45 credits, as follows:

  1. Coursework: Minimum 45 quarter credits at the 400 and 500 level, of which at least 25 must be at the 500 level. Three courses must be taken in comparative literature. Remaining credits must include study in two or more literatures with at least three courses in each of two literatures.
  2. Language Requirements: Advanced reading knowledge in at least one language other than English and a basic reading knowledge of a second, demonstrated before starting to write the MA essay. Language competence is attested either by exams or by completion of satisfactory coursework in the language.
  3. Essay: Prepared after completion of coursework, under supervision of two faculty members.
  4. Study Abroad: Students are encouraged to study abroad by participating in exchange programs offered through the individual language and literature departments or through the UW's Office of International Programs and Exchanges.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, English, or any other literature, or equivalent background; advanced reading knowledge in two languages other than English.

Degree Requirements

90 credits, as follows:

  1. Coursework: Minimum 90 postbaccalaureate degree credits at the 400 and 500 level of which at least half in each section of the program must be at the 500 level. Credits must include: (1) at least 30 credits in comparative literature courses; (2) 30 credits in the literature of major interest to the student; (3) 20 credits in the student's minor field (or, if more than one minor field is chosen, at least 15 credits in each); (4) 10 elective credits chosen from any area of the student's choice. One of two minor fields may be extra-literary.
  2. Language Requirements: Advanced reading knowledge in two languages other than English and a basic reading knowledge of a third, demonstrated before PhD. examinations are administered. Language competence is attested either by examinations or by completion of satisfactory coursework in the language.
  3. General Examination: The general examination requires one quarter and is taken after completion of the 90-credit course requirement and language requirements. The examination, taken within three quarters of completion of coursework, consists of the following two sections: (1) eight-hour written examinations in each of the following three areas: (a) a period exam in the student's primary national literature; (b) comparative literature exam; and (c) comparative theory exam; (2) an oral comprehensive examination evaluating the student's overall preparation for dissertation work.
  4. Dissertation: Dissertation topics are chosen from a broad range of areas including: (1) the comparative study of authors or themes in different languages; (2) issues in the fields of theory of literature and history of criticism; (3) the study of literary authors or themes whose significance transcends national or linguistic boundaries; (4) the study of such phenomena as transmission, reception, and influence.
  5. Final Examination: Candidates must pass an oral examination devoted to the dissertation and to fields covered by their written exams.
  6. Study Abroad: Students are encouraged to study abroad by participating in exchange programs offered through the individual language and literature departments or through the UW's Office of International Programs and Exchanges.

Financial Aid

The department awards teaching assistantships annually to qualified students and provides up to five years of support toward the PhD. to students who enter with a B.A. Teaching assistantships can be assigned in comparative literature, cinema studies, or in any of the national literature departments affiliated with Comparative Literature.