Comparative Literary Studies Program

Comparative Literary Studies


Comparative Literary Studies Program



Welcome to Comparative Literary Studies at Wellesley! We welcome majors who are intellectually adventurous and wish to pursue a program of study that brings together methods and materials drawn from at least two areas of study or disciplines. We emphasize the way language operates and our courses and training develop advanced skills in interpretation and writing.  Our faculty, with specialized knowledge in Classics, East Asian Studies, English and Creative Writing, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Italian Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, explore broad humanistic thinking in their courses and research. We thus have a rare breadth of linguistic and cultural expertise and curricular options from within the program faculty. However, the richness of literary courses available to students pursuing comparative literary studies at Wellesley comes from the various offerings across the literary departments. Any literary studies course may count toward the CLS major if it makes sense within the students' plan of study as discussed with their advisor or the director of the program. Indeed, we are extremely open to considering courses beyond literature/culture departments (that is, from both the Social Sciences and STEM fields) when students make the case for classes that contribute directly to furthering their project. Students are expected to consult closely with their advisor and the program director when wishing to count non-CLS courses toward the CLS major. We welcome opportunities to engage with non-humanistic fields of knowledge and to get to deeper levels of understanding the interconnectedness of the world. We believe that the big questions before us today - the environment, the distribution of resources, inequities that are historical and often racially inflected, our ability to co-exist with others whose identities are seen as threatening or dangerous - might be best studied by engaging across disciplines and having a strong base in the humanities with an active sense of narrative and a nuanced understanding of language. We encourage deep study of languages and of particular disciplinary histories, which students encounter in their study of literary histories and debates on Comparative Literature as a discipline. 

We believe deeply in the value of literary training and the heft it brings to projects that are literary as well as those which seek to understand culture more broadly. Our students grapple with how literary texts function by examining their form and content and the play between the two. They also study "texts" (and debate the value of considering other objects as texts) by following leads within it that reach out toward a broader historical context. From this type of work, they also become adept at understanding the limits and possibilities of disciplinary boundaries more broadly. CLS students follow how literature is both continuous with social reality and how it comments on that reality, often with a will to change it. These connections with reality are often studied as the "politics of form." We find that students are interested in using their expertise to understand how formal and disciplinary structures operate in other fields. This makes CLS a flexible humanities platform that can benefit advanced work in other fields. Students often work on aesthetics and politics in film, media, and art. Our students routinely engage with multiple media and wish to bring their literary training to bear on projects located in the sciences and human sciences. CLS faculty members are excited about these projects and are open to pursuing joint theses and to discussing student projects with faculty advisers in other departments. 


  • While some of our graduates continue in literary studies, many others bring these skills to bear on professions in fields as diverse as journalism, law, advertising, computer science, medicine, public policy, health and wellness, film making, and public health. For this reason, students are encouraged to pursue their interests through CLS if they wish to take a holistic and explicitly humanistic approach to the questions they study. 

  • As we come out of the pandemic, we welcome students to seek out CLS faculty to help you plan your program of study. We are committed to helping you design interdisciplinary projects that are meaningful to your interests and ambitions. 

Learning Goals for the Comparative Literary Studies Program Major


  • Practice and refine skills in the analysis of literary texts, genres and literary movements across departmental, national, and linguistic boundaries and in conversation with other texts, cultures, media or technologies.
  • Learn to recognize and apply key concepts of theoretical approaches to cultural and textual studies.
  • Acquire an overview of the history and disciplines of the Comparative Literary Studies Program and world literature, especially as they evolve in the current global literary moment.
  • Acquire a thorough understanding of the dynamics presented by a literary text in translation and adaptation.



Required Courses: CPLT 180 What is World Literature CPLT 375 Translation in a Multilingual World
Choice of Comp. Lit. Classes: Three more courses offered within the program. One pre-1900s course
Three more courses from an array of departments.
Work with faculty that bring a range of expertise and approaches to the program
Anjali Prabhu, Rachid Aadnani, Mingwei Song, Adam Weiner