Learning Objectives of the Comparative Literature Undergraduate Program

As a discipline, Comparative Literature seeks out and encourages transnational and transcultural experiences and perspectives. Our students are trained to ask broader and better questions about the many forms of cultural production surrounding them. Comparatists study the nature of literature and other media across and between different languages and cultures. They gain a broad knowledge of different cultural traditions representing writers and artists of diverse origins and from many historical periods. In addition to cross-linguistic and cross-cultural literary studies, the undergraduate program explores literature in social, political, intellectual, and historical context and the relationship of literature to other arts, philosophy, and media, including digital media. The Department of Comparative Literature offers both a major and minor in comparative studies.

Students in Comparative Literature work with emergent and established scholars at the cutting edge of their various fields and disciplines. Our undergraduates are encouraged to adopt comparative study and literary theory not only as integral elements of interdisciplinary academic work, but as crucial tools of democratic citizenship in global contexts. The department has strengths in critical theory, and in both Western and non-Western literary and cultural traditions, including U.S., Latin American and Caribbean, European, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South Asian. The broad scope of scholarly expertise represented in the department enables students to reflect critically, across their course of studies, on the ways in which globalization affects the creation, dissemination, and consumption of culture, and to analyze literature, arts, and media as sites of resistance to and rethinking of this globalization.

Our undergraduate program is more broadly conceived than at many other universities. While we offer traditional comparative literature courses that cross the boundaries of national literatures and study literary periods, movements, and genres, our courses also allow students to explore literature in its interaction with philosophy, to discover the relation of literature to other arts and media, and to reflect on practices of translation as themselves modes of transcultural exchange and production. The strong non-Western component in the undergraduate program encourages our students to think with nuance and complexity about the place of literature in wider social and political contexts.

The learning objectives for the Comparative Literature BA are:

  • To attain a broad knowledge of various literary traditions both in their specificity and interrelation

  • To interpret a literary text or other cultural artifact in a non-native target language and to develop advanced skills in order to compare texts from a variety of different traditions, genres, periods, and areas
  • To cultivate a complex, transdisciplinary understanding and appreciation of literary texts, cultural artifacts, and diverse media in their wide political and social contexts
  • To consider the role of translation in the production of textual and cultural meaning
  • To think critically about the relations between literature and other modes of cultural production, including digital and new media
  • To think historically about the multiple ways in which globalization affects contemporary culture
  • To analyze literature and the arts as sites of resistance
  • To develop the critical skills to write longer research papers that display clear knowledge of research protocols—including conventions of proper attribution and citation—on a topic of literary, cultural, and/or political relevance
  • To develop the skills to move among and between diverse cultures, including on-site research and travel abroad as means of participation in cultural 


  • Department of Comparative Literature
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Taper Hall of Humanities 161
  • Mail Code 0355
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0353