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Comparative Literature

Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature

The Department offers majors and minors in English, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing, as well as a major in Secondary Education-English (see Education). In the context of traditions of Anglo-American and European literature, we offer mythology, criticism and aesthetics, genres and period studies such as modernism and postmodernism, and recognizable literary trends such as existentialism and romanticism, as well as figure studies . In addition, we also examine what we consider the inevitable connections between literature and the other arts, as well as include a diversity of voices, such as those of women and various ethnic, racial, and post-colonial cultures. All our majors under this heading involve students in critical reading and thinking, as well as writing both with clarity and imagination in preparation for graduate school, life and work, all of which demand an enriched cultural background, excellent communication skills, rigorous thinking, creativity, and originality.

Achievement of a cumulative grade point average in the major (defined as courses with the prefix EN) of at least 2.0 (C) is expected for graduation. 

Requirements to Major in English (44 Credits)

  • EN/WS 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • EN 1910 – Survey of English Literature I and II
  • EN 1930 – Survey of American Literature I and II
  • One pre-1800 course normally selected from, but not limited to:
  • EN 3010 – Topics in Literature Before 1800
  • EN/TH 3950 – Shakespeare
  • EN 4010 – The Epic

One post-1800 course normally selected from, but not limited to:

  • EN 3020 – The Romantic Movement
  • EN 3030 – The 19th Century
  • EN 3030 – American Transcendentalism
  • EN 3030 – Victorian Literature
  • EN 3040 – The Modern Literature
  • EN 3050 – Topics in Recent Literature

One international course normally selected from:

  • EN 1950 – International Literature
  • EN 2140 – Existential Literature: The Individual Against the System

One Major Writers course selected from, but not limited to:

  • EN/TH 3950 – Shakespeare
  • EN/WS 3960 – Major Writers: Lessing, Duras, and Atwood
  • EN 3990 – Major Writers (any offered under that heading)
  • One writing workshop normally selected from:
  • EN 2570 – Beginning Creative Writing
  • EN 3520 – Poetry Workshop
  • EN 3540 – Short Story Workshop
  • EN 4020 – Modes of Literary Criticism
  • One 4000 – level Seminar in English

4 credits of elective(s) in English such as EN 1020 – Introduction to Literature, or any other course approved by the English faculty 

Requirements to Minor in English (24 Credits)

  • EN 1910 – Survey of English Literature I and II
  • or EN 1930 – Survey of American Literature I and II
  • EN/WS 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • EN 2570 – Beginning Creative Writing
  • One EN 2000- or 3000-level literature course
  • EN /TH 3950 – Shakespeare (recommended)
  • or any EN 3990 – Major Writers
  • EN 4020 – Modes of Literary Criticism (recommended)
  • or EN 4000 – level seminar

Requirements to Major in Comparative Literature

The total credits for the Comparative Literature Major is: 44 credits (without the foreign language component); 44-56 credits (with the foreign language component).

One course selected from:

  • EN 1910 – Survey of English Literature I and II
  • EN 1930 – Survey of American Literature I and II
  • EN 3030 – Victorian Literature
  • One course selected from:
  • EN 1950 – International Literature
  • EN 2140 – Existential Literature: The Individual Against the System
  • One course selected from:
  • EN 3010 – Renaissance Literature
  • EN/TH 3950 – Shakespeare
  • EN/WS 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • EN/WS 3960 – Major Writers: Atwood, Lessing, Duras

Or Another Comparative Major Writers Course designated as such by the Department.

  • EN 4010 – The Epic
  • EN 4020 – Modes of Literary Criticism

One Genre Course

  • One 4000-level seminar in English

4 credits of elective(s) such as a course in Creative Writing, or EN1020 – Introduction to Literature, or any other course approved by the Department

A minimum of intermediate-level proficiency in a foreign language (normally at least a three-Semester Sequence. 4-12cr)

Requirements to Minor in Comparative Literature

The total credits for the Comparative Literature Minor is: 24 credits (without the foreign language component); and between 24-28 credits (with the foreign language component). 

Note: It is highly suggested that the student who minors in Comparative Literature do both The Epic and the 4000 level Seminar.

One Course selected from:

  • EN 1950 – International Literature
  • EN 1960 – Literature of Memory and Witness
  • EN 2140 – Existential Literature: The Individual Against the System

One Course selected from:

  • EN 3960 – Major Writers: Lessing, Duras, and Atwood
  • EN 3990 – A comparative Major Writers Course designated as such by the Department
  • EN 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • EN 4020 – Modes of Literary Criticism
  • One Course selected from:
  • EN 4010 – The Epic

One 4000 – level Seminar

A two-semester sequence of a foreign language

Requirements to Minor in Creative Writing (24 Credits)

  • EN/WS 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • EN 2570 – Beginning Creative Writing
  • EN 2080 – The American Short Story since 1945
  • EN 3540 – Short Story Workshop
  • or EN 3520 – Poetry Workshop
  • EN 4020 – Modes of Literary Criticism
  • EN 4520 – Advanced Poetry Workshop
  • or EN 4540 – Advanced Short Story Workshop

Course Descriptions

**All undergraduate courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted.

EN 1020 Introduction to Literature

Rather than introducing the student to a large number of works, this course introduces the student to the different literary genres-the tale, the poem, the novel, the play-through close and varied readings of a few exemplary literary texts. Also, through field trips, required attendance at gallery shows, theatre productions, and readings, this course introduces students to the connections among art, literature, music, and theatre.

EN 1560 The Beat Generation

With the 1957 publication of On the Road, Jack Kerouac introduced the concept of the “beat” that has endured in the American lexicon. His root vision is one of beatitude, which includes the attempt to reconcile the basic tenets of Christianity and Buddhism. Such insights are echoed in the works of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Michael McClure, although William Burroughs and others would develop other directions. Students will examine and analyze in depth the Eastern roots of the Beat vision and study the primary texts of Beat writers. Offered every other year.

EN 1910 Survey of English Literature I and II               

This course compresses in one semester a survey of the works of major writers of literature, and literary movements in British literature from the Anglo-Saxons and Celts of the Middle Ages, to the Romantics to modern times. The students will read and analyze not only the works considered landmarks, but made aware of some of the lesser known texts. This course satisfies one of the requirements of the English Major. Offered every other fall.

EN 1930 Survey of American Literature I and II          

This course compresses in one semester a survey of the works of major writers of literature and literary movements in America. Beginning with Native American voices, this course will progress through the 18th and 19th centuries to modern times. Though this course focuses on the major writers and movements, it does not ignore the importance of some unrecognized voices that have shaped American literature. This course satisfies one of the requirements of the English, as well as Comparative Literature Majors. Offered every other fall.

EN 1950 International Literature   

This course is an in depth study of primarily short stories, essays, and poems in translation, belonging to the 20th century.  The students will examine through carefully selected texts the different ways each culture expresses parallel human concerns such as identity, loss, coming of age, death, exile, marriage etc. that unite us all. The approach is comparative and analytical, with each text, including works from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe, placed in its geographic, historic, and cultural context. This course satisfies requirements in the various English Department Majors and Minors including the period requirement. Offered every other year, usually in the fall. 

EN 2020 Language and Grammar    

This course is a study of the origins, history, and structure of the English language, including linguistics, language acquisition, theories of language and cognition, and prescriptive, descriptive, and transformational grammars. This course satisfies the English Secondary Education requirement. Offered every other fall. 

EN 2050 Literature as Film/Film as Literature

In this course students will study the fundamentals of adaptation theories in addition to reading several short stories, a novella or novel, and a play, along with their corresponding film – paying special attention to the methods of transposing each of the literary genres into the medium of Cinema. 

EN 2070 (WS 2070) Comparative Mythology

This course is an in depth study of the importance of creation myths, myths of destruction and of re-birth, quest myths of the hero, the recurring theme of the theft of fire, the importance of the goddess in earlier myths, and her relative abdication in favor of god(s) in later ones. Diverse peoples the world over seem to dream using similar archetypal images. We will examine what this fact may suggest. What could be the implications of such a phenomenon? In addition, this course will help the students decipher works of art and literary texts by identifying often obscure myth references in them. Our approach will be comparative and thematic using examples from several diverse cultures. This course is a requirement for all three Literature majors in the English Department. Offered every fall.

EN 2080 The American Short Story Since 1945 

This course is both a detailed survey of the American short story since World War II, and an exercise in creative writing. The student, through rewriting the assigned stories will come to understand the changes in form from the inside out. As such, it offers literary background to creative writing students. This course satisfies a Creative Writing requirement. Offered every fall.

EN 2140 Existential Literature: The Individual Against the System         

Existential literature dramatically illustrates the human being’s confrontation with his/her existence with all its complexities. The emphasis in this course is on well-known existential writers, such as Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Nietzsche, Ortega, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Neruda, and Camus, but not limited to them. The students will examine how this philosophy has become so closely linked to the almost all artistic works of the 20th Century. This course satisfies several requirements in the major. Offered every spring.

EN 2570 Beginning Creative Writing              

This course is a writing workshop that focuses on fiction, but exposes the students to the various genres of writings such as poetry, fiction and drama. This course satisfies the LAS 3 creative arts requirement. Offered every fall.

EN 3010 Topics in Literature Before 1800

This course is an in- depth study in literature written before the 19th century. Students will be introduced to literature of pre-modern cultures, in courses such as The Renaissance, and the 17th century. May be repeated for credit in different topics. Prerequisite: A lower- level English course or permission of instructor.

EN 3020 The Romantic Movement 

This course will introduce the students to the movement called Romanticism as it will examine the major works of British literature of the period. It will branch out to include works by European writers of the same period, such as Goethe, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Lermontov. Prerequisite: a lower level literature course, or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

EN 3030 The 19th Century               

This course is an in depth study in such movements or themes as the Transcendentalists, Victorian Literature, and British Women Writers. Offered every other year and may be repeated for credit in different topics. This course satisfies a period requirement for the English Major. 

EN 3040 The Modern Novel             

This course studies in depth the development of the Modern Novel and its influence on contemporary art in general with a focus on European writers such as Flaubert, Joyce, Hesse, Gide and de Beauvoir. It is comparative and analytical in approach. This course satisfies the genre and period requirements for the Majors in the English Department.

EN 3050 Topics in Recent Literature              

This course studies in-depth literary movements and writers since the middle of the 20th century.  Topics include post-modern poetry, and contemporary novels from the Middle East. Offered every third year and may be repeated for credit in different topics.

EN 3520 Poetry Workshop               

Students submit their own work for critical discussion and revision, participate in the critical discussion of their colleagues’ work, and complete a poetry portfolio. This course satisfies the LAS 3 creative arts distribution requirement. Prerequisites: WR 1010 and WR 1020 (may be taken concurrently with WR 1020 with permission of instructor.) Offered every fall semester and January.

EN 3540 Short Story Workshop      

Students submit their own work for critical discussion and revision, participate in the critical discussion of their colleagues’ work, and complete a short-story portfolio. This course satisfies a requirement in the Creative Writing Major. Prerequisite: EN 2570 or permission of instructor.

EN 3950 (TH 3950) Shakespeare     

This course studies in the tragedies, comedies, history, and problem plays of William Shakespeare from the perspectives of both literature and theatre, with an emphasis on the performance of the literary work. This course is team-taught. This course covers the Major Writers requirement for the English department. Prerequisite: at least a lower level literature course. Offered every other year. 

EN 3960 (WS 3960) Major Writers: Lessing, Duras, and Atwood

This course examines the similarities, apart from the obvious, of these three female writers. What ties them together? What are their differences? Do they speak/write the same emotional truth? Is there a common thread to their otherwise distinctive literary styles and life experiences? Does the statement “Women in exile” make any sense? How about the concept of “Otherness”?  Do they perform a different form of writing?  What would that be? How do these writers qualify as major figures in contemporary literature? What are their contributions to the culture of the 20th Century and their influence in the 21st century? These are but a few of the questions the course will be tackling while reading several of the texts by these authors. This course covers the Major Writers requirement for all three majors in the English Department.  Prerequisite: a minimum of one lower level literature course. Offered every other year. 

EN 3990 Major Writers

This course is an in depth Study of the works and scholarship on a major writer or on a small group of related writers such as, Henri James; Conrad; Melville, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Mailer.  This course satisfies requirements in the various English Department majors and may be repeated for credit in different topics.  Prerequisite: A lower level literature course or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

EN 4010 The Epic

This course is an in-depth study of the traditional epic both in the oral tradition and in writing, its development and impact on other genres such as the novel and more recently film, as well as on the history of literature. The epics will be read, analyzed, and discussed comparatively in their historical and cultural contexts. Works include, but may not be limited to, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Song of Roland, The Inferno, and Paradise Lost. This course satisfies a requirement in the Comparative Literature major, as well as the requirement for genre and period for all majors in the English Department.  Prerequisite: A lower- level literature course or permission of instructor. Offered every other spring. 

EN 4020 Modes of Literary Criticism              

This course studies major critical theories and practices of literature from Aristotle to contemporary critics, including but not limited to Aristotelian criticism, romantic criticism, myth criticism, new criticism, deconstruction, structuralism, and feminist criticism. This course is a requirement for all majors in the English Department. Prerequisite: A lower level literature course or permission of instructor. Offered every other spring.

EN 4520 Advanced Poetry Workshop            

Advanced writing students work with the EN 3520 workshop but are required to complete a manuscript for publication (publication not required) and undertake individually designed projects instead of completing the poetry portfolio. Prerequisite: EN 3520. Offered every fall.

EN 4540 Advanced Short Story Workshop    

Advanced writing students may work with the EN 3540 workshop or independently with the instructor and are required to complete a significant manuscript in fiction as if for publication. Prerequisite: EN 3540. Offered every spring.

EN 4810 Directed Study in Literature or Creative Writing        

Studies to be arranged between the student and the appropriate member of the English faculty in literature or creative writing. Contract required. May be repeated for credit in different topics. Variable credit (1-4).

EN 4830 Independent Study in Literature or Creative Writing               

Advanced, independent studies of specific topics in literature or creative writing arranged between the student and the appropriate member of the English faculty. Contract required. Variable credit (1-4). 

EN 4840 Madness in Literature

The course is a seminar of comparative literature written in, or translated into English. It explores, as it tries to define the term madness in all its complexities, as it tries to answer why we find the theme of madness so fascinating. The course examines the presence of this theme in literature throughout the ages, as well as glimpses at the pervasiveness of the theme in other creative media. The focus is on Western cultures, and the approach is comparative and analytical. This course satisfies the seminar requirement for several literature majors in the English Department.

EN 4850 Modernism: Revolt and Discovery

Modernism is an elusive term difficult to define, and even more difficult to confine to a specific time in history. Yet it is universally accepted that some profound changes were already afoot around the turn of the 20th century in the related fields of art and literature, not to mention technology. We will examine in depth why this may be so, and what factors contributed to this upheaval of society and the arts. We will discuss what impact these changes have had on our world today. We will do this through carefully selected texts, art pieces, and music, from Avant-garde, to Cubism, to Surrealism and beyond. Our starting point will be the year 1857 with the publication of both Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. This course is team-taught and satisfies the seminar requirement for several literature majors in the English Department. Prerequisite: at least one lower-level literature course. Offered every other fall. 

EN 4860 Post-Modernism: Irony Takes Center Stage

Postmodernism seems to be a self-consciously contradictory phenomenon. It is as much about attitude as it is about negation of attitude. It is about trying to find meaning in a world where none may exist. Postmodernism seems to dominate the period after WWII, and irony dominates most of the works of art and literature of that period. The students will try to find the reasons as to why this may be so, as well as examine what Postmodernism may be heralding for the future by reading and analyzing carefully selected works of art, criticism, literature, and music. This course is team-taught and satisfies the seminar requirement for Comparative literature and other majors in the English Department. Prerequisite: at least one lower-level literature course. Offered every other spring.

EN 4990 Seminar in Literature

Advance topics in literature, such as Problems in Good and Evil, Women’s Voices, The loss of Self, and other areas or problems designed for senior-level students. This course fulfills the senior level requirement for the majors in the English Department.