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Why Study Comparative Literature?

The number one reason to major in anything is that you like the subject. Do you like to read? Do you enjoy fiction, poetry, drama, cinema? Are you interested in other cultures, other languages, in the world at large? If so, Comparative Literature is the place for you.

What Is Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature is the study of common features in the literature, cinema, and other forms of cultural production across national and regional boundaries, from an intercultural, interdisciplinary and global perspective. Today we live in a global society where languages, literatures and cultures intersect and interbreed, and that is why it is important to broaden our scope, to understand the many diverse ways in which human beings perceive and relate to the world and each other. We offer courses in the literatures and cultures of Europe and the Americas; of China, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam; and of East and West Africa. We offer you, in short, a window to the world.

What about Job Prospects? For What Kind of Career Will the Comparative Literature Major Prepare Me?

Students studying in an outdoor classroom in Tanzania
Students studying in an outdoor classroom in Tanzania

If you are like most students, you may not be 100% sure what career path you wish to pursue. Are you bent on being an accountant? A computer programmer? A civil engineer? A speech pathologist? Probably not. You are still searching, and for a student like you a liberal arts education will open many doors.

Studying Comparative Literature, or any other subject in the humanities, will provide you with the necessary skills to excel, not just in one narrow field, but in any number of professions: analytical and critical thinking, close reading, research, and oral and written communication.

In each of our courses you will learn about other cultures and periods, but you will also learn how to make complex and forceful arguments based on carefully researched evidence. These are the skills employers are looking for. According to a survey of employers by the Association of American Colleges and Universities,

The skills employers value most in the new graduates they hire are not technical, job-specific skills, but written and oral communication, problem solving, and critical thinking—exactly the sort of ״soft skills״ humanities majors tend to excel in.

And as Inc. Magazine reports, “a host of experts are arguing that liberal arts majors are about to make a major rebound.” One reason, among many, is that the skills you acquire in a humanities major like Comparative Literature are “the least likely to be automated.” In other words, you won’t be replaced by a robot or an algorithm.

Our majors go on to pursue careers in education, publishing, law, medicine, film, art, writing, communications, foreign service, international business, and many other fields.

How Much Will You Earn?

Another myth to be dispelled is that STEM majors have better job prospects and higher long-term earnings than Humanities majors. The latter, it is true, may need to do more searching for their path, but in the long run they very often end up in higher positions and earn higher salaries.

It's Easy to Double-Major!

Comparative Literature majors may use four courses in a different literature (English, Spanish, Russian, etc.) to fulfill their major requirements. Majors may also use four courses in a different field (from Anthropology to Women’s Studies) to fulfill their major requirements. See Option II and Option III in the Comparative Literature major requirements.

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