Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and Culture
Comparative literature is inherently multicultural and dynamic; the comparative approach embraces world literature and culture in all periods of history. The comparative literature and culture major will teach you about crossing boundaries and encountering other ways of thinking and living.
At Brandeis, the comparative literature major emphasizes a way of approaching literature, rather than a specific body of knowledge about literature. The program is highly interdisciplinary, which allows you to explore a wide variety of interests. Faculty are constantly shaping their curriculum to fit the interests and needs of the changing student body and encourage your input at all levels of program planning.
Introduction to Global Literature, the program's core course, introduces you to the diversity of approaches possible within the field. Uniquely, the course focuses on acquiring the research and writing skills specific to the comparative study of literature.
Academics and Research
Students can take advantage of peer teaching assistant opportunities. Teaching assistants work closely with the professor to get an inside view of how courses are created and conducted.
Students have researched and written honors theses on topics as diverse as translation, comparative feminism, the influence of folklore on "high" literature and literary responses to chaos in the wake of World War II.
A great strength of the program is that it is interdepartmental, which means that students can draw on the expertise of world-class faculty from across the humanities curriculum.
Jerónimo Arellano is Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture and Chair of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. His interests include 20th- and 21st-century Latin American literature, colonial Latin America, screenwriting, and comparative media. He was a Fellow at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College from 2016 to 2017.
Jonathan Decter is Associate Professor and Edmond J. Safra Professor of Sephardic Studies and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. His research interests include Jews in the Islamic World, Judeo-Arabic Studies, Medieval Hebrew and Arabic Literature, and Jewish Thought. He was awarded the Salo W. Baron Prize for outstanding first book in Jewish Studies in 2008.
Stephen Dowden is Professor of German and Chair of the European Cultural Studies Program. His interests encompass modern German literature and culture, European modernism, and comparative literature.
Matthew Fraleigh is Associate Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture and Chair of the Comparative Literature and Culture Program. He specializes in the study of classical and modern Japanese literature and language; cultural and literary exchange between China and Japan; and literature of travel.
Robin Miller is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities and Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature. Her interests include the novel in Russia and Europe of the nineteenth century, the short story in Russia, and the literature of childhood and children's literature. She was a Guggenheim Fellow from 2013 to 2014.
Laura Quinney is Professor of English. She teaches British literature, especially poetry, of the Romantic periods, and poetry more generally, including recent and contemporary American poetry. She has published two books of poetry, Corridor and New Ghosts (Borderland Books, 2008 and 2016). She was a Fellow at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College from 2009 to 2010.
Fernando Rosenberg is Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Romance Studies. His research interests include critical and post-colonial theory, modernism and modernity, visual art and performance, and legal topics in the arts. He received a Morse Fellowship at Yale University from 2005 to 2006.
Harleen Singh is Associate Professor of Literature, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her interests include Postcolonial Literature and Theory; Colonial Studies; South Asian Novel; Indian Film; Immigrant Literature; Women's and Gender Studies; and South Asian Studies. She received an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from 2017 to 2018.
Pu Wang is Helaine and Alvin Allen Chair in Literature. His interests include modern Chinese literature and culture in comparative frameworks; critical theory and translation studies; cultural Marxism; aesthetic modernity in the 19th and 20th centuries; intellectual history of China; and comparative poetics. He is a recipient of numerous grants for his research and also an award-winning poet.
Internships, Clubs and Study Abroad
In addition to more traditional internships in journalism or publishing, students have also interned at organizations such as Confluir in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, which offers free legal advice and fights for the rights of minorities (specifically indigenous groups), women and those struggling with poverty.
Because our students are active in multiple departments, they bring the comparative perspective to a wide variety of student clubs and organizations, with interests ranging from Southeast Asia to Russia, from film to dance and many more.
The program has a partnership with Boston University for Brandeis students to go on a study abroad program in Madrid and apply the methods they learn in a real setting. Students also have studied with other programs all over the globe.
Careers, Graduate Study and Alumni
Alumni have gone on to graduate study in comparative literature, linguistics, sociolinguistics, education and many other fields.
Recent Comparative Literature alumni have gone on to careers such as:
writer and editor for Houghton-Mifflin
program director at a youth center
vice president of Mesirow Financial
self-employed director and actor
trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice
deputy director for Pakistan and Bangladesh at the U.S. Department of State