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This archived information is dated to the 2008-09 academic year only and may no longer be current.

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Comparative Literature

Emeriti: (Professors) Joseph Frank, John Freccero, René Girard, Herbert Lindenberger, Mary Pratt; (Courtesy Professors) W. B. Carnochan, Gerald Gillespie, David G. Halliburton, Marjorie G. Perloff

Chair: Russell Berman

Director of Graduate Admissions: David Palumbo-Liu

Director of Graduate Studies: Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Margaret Cohen

Professors: John Bender (English, Comparative Literature), Russell Berman (German Studies, Comparative Literature), Margaret Cohen (Comparative Literature), Amir Eshel (German Studies, Comparative Literature), Roland Greene (English, Comparative Literature), Hans U. Gumbrecht (French and Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature), Seth Lerer (English, Comparative Literature, Autumn only), Franco Moretti (English, Comparative Literature), Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi (French and Italian, Comparative Literature, on leave Autumn), Andrea Nightingale (Classics, Comparative Literature, on leave), David Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Patricia Parker (English, Comparative Literature), Ramón Saldívar (English, Comparative Literature, on leave), Jeffrey T. Schnapp (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), Ban Wang (Asian Languages, Comparative Literature)

Associate Professor: Monika Greenleaf (Slavic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature)

Courtesy Professors: John Wang

Lecturers: Marie-Therese Ellis, Shafiq Shamel

Consulting Professor: Hayden White

Visiting Professors: Richard Davis (Comparative Literature, Autumn), Astrid Fellner (Comparative Literature, Winter, Spring), Herbert Lachmayer (Comparative Literature, Spring)

Department Offices: Building 260, Room 209

Mail Code: 94305-2031

Phone: (650) 723-3566


Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Comparative Literature have the subject code COMPLIT, and are listed in the "Comparative Literature [COMPLIT] Courses" section of this bulletin.

The Department of Comparative Literature offers courses in the history and theory of literature through comparative approaches. The department accepts candidates for the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy.

The field of Comparative Literature provides students the opportunity to study imaginative literature in all its forms. While other literary disciplines focus on works of literature as parts of specific national or linguistic traditions, Comparative Literature draws on literature from all contexts in order to examine the nature of literary phenomena from around the globe and from different historical moments, while exploring how literary writing interacts with other elements of culture and society. The field studies literary expression through examinations of genres such as novels, epics, drama, and poetry, and new aesthetic forms such as cinema and electronic media. Although Comparative Literature does not restrict its focus to single traditions or periods, it does investigate the complex interplay of the literary imagination and historical experience. Attention is also paid to questions of literary theory, aesthetic philosophy, and cultural interpretation.

Along with the traditional model of comparative literature that juxtaposes two or more national literary cultures, the department supports teaching and research that examine literary phenomena with additional tools of inquiry such as literary theory, the relationship between literature and philosophy, and the enrichment of literary study with other disciplinary methodologies. Comparative Literature also encourages the study of aspects of literature that surpass national boundaries, such as transnational literary movements or the dissemination of particular genres. In each case, students emerge from the program with enhanced verbal and writing skills, a command of literary studies, the ability to read analytically and critically, and a more global knowledge of literature.

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