Comparative Literary Studies

Gwendolyn Brooks
Xia Jia
Roberto Bolaño
Toni Morrison
Vladimir Nabokov
Nnedi Okorafor
Michael Ondaatje
Allen Ginsburg
Junichirō Tanizaki
Comparative Literary Studies
The Comparative Literary Studies Major introduces students to fundamental questions about
the nature, function, and value of literature in an expansive and broadly comparative context –
outside national and linguistic boundaries and in conversation with other texts, cultures, media,
or technologies. CLS majors become adept in multiple cultures and disciplines; they develop
habits of mind as well as skills in close reading, critical analysis and written communication that
will serve them throughout their lives as citizens and in any career they might choose.
The program brings together faculty from Classics, East Asian Studies, English, French, German
Studies, Italian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Spanish, and Russian to showcase the exciting
breadth and diversity of literary study at Wellesley. Students draw from coursework offered in a
variety of departments and programs to construct a program of study that reflects their
intellectual goals and areas of interest. Students and faculty in CLS are vitally engaged with not
only language and literature programs but also with interdisciplinary programs such as
American Studies, Peace and Justice Studies, Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies,
Environmental Studies, to name just a few.
All students planning to major in Comparative Literary Studies should work with the director of
the program or a major advisor, who will help them develop a coherent, well-focused sequence
of courses suited to their individual interests. A student in CLS might study topics that link
literature, defined expansively, with visual media, gender and sexuality, literary history,
philosophy, linguistics, environmental studies, colonialism, human rights and global censorship,
postcolonial and diaspora studies, literary theory, film, and translation.  Majors in CLS often
pursue double majors, because of the flexibility of the major, which allows them to combine
their interests in multiple fields, including STEM fields, and to structure their degrees around
them. A major in Comparative Literary Studies will add value to any resume, and our graduates
pursue careers such as media, law, public service, the non-profit sector, publishing,
international business, and academia, among others.
Learning Goals for the Comparative Literary Studies 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 comparative literary studies 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.