Comparative Literary Studies

Academic Program Introduction

Comparative Literary Studies introduces students to the study of literature beyond individual national and linguistic boundaries. The program allows students to link literary studies with other areas of interest—film, philosophy, linguistics, translation, human rights, gender and sexuality, and more. Our courses emphasize how language operates within different cultural and historical contexts, providing students with skills for appreciating cultural diversity and difference. Students also gain advanced skills in writing and interpretation.

We offer a rare breadth of linguistic and cultural expertise and curricular options. Students choose from courses from departments and programs across the College to construct a major program that suits their interests, and they often pursue a second major, including in STEM fields.

Learning goals

  • Analyze literary texts, genres, and movements across departmental, national, and linguistic boundaries and in conversation with other texts, cultures, media, or technologies.

  • Apply key concepts of theoretical approaches to cultural and textual studies.

  • Understand the history of comparative literary studies and world literature, especially as they evolve in the current global literary moment.

  • Understand the dynamics presented by a literary text in translation and adaptation.

  • Acquire skills to appreciate cultural differences.

Programs of Study

Comparative literary studies major

Students go beyond the study of an individual literary tradition to embrace the study of literature in a broadly comparative context.

Research highlights

  • Sergio Parussa sits at a chair in his office reading a book. He is wearing a blue sweater and has a content, calm face.

    Professor Sergio Parussa investigates the relationship between Judaism and writing in contemporary Italian literature as well as its intertwining with LGBTQ+ culture in Italy. His work includes translations of literary works, such as L'orso maggiore by Ginevra Bompiani, as The Great Bear (Italica Press, November 2000), and Simonetta Perkins by L.P. Hartley (Nottetempo, 2008).

  • Professor Carol Dougherty reads at a table with books about ancient Greece and Rome.

    Professor Carol Dougherty works at the intersection of literature, politics, and history in archaic and classical Greece. Her current research approaches Greek tragedy within the discourse of hospitality, exploring the political and ethical issues that narratives about welcoming the foreigner represent on the Athenian stage. Her book Travel and Home in Homer’s Odyssey and Contemporary Literature was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

A major in comparative literary studies adds value to any résumé. Our graduates pursue careers in media, law, public service, the tech industry, the nonprofit sector, publishing, international business, and academia, among other areas.

Comparative Literary Studies Program

Founders Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Carol Dougherty
Program Director
Rachel Moreno-Buckner
Academic Administrator