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About Comparative Literature

What do our Faculty and Students have to say about Comparative Literature?

Fawzia Mustafa

Professor Fawzia Mustafa

What does Comparative Literature mean to you?
I've always loved its elasticity. It allows for so many otherwise disparate areas of intellectual life to constantly be in conversation: both between languages and within languages; through single and multiple translations; between disciplines and area studies, and of course the intersections of cultural studies and literary theory. The rewards are astonishing.

What is your research?
My current research takes me home to Eastern Africa and the unusual mix of global and local forces active there since the end of the eighteenth century. The language groups I work with, primarily through translation, include Kiswahili, Kikerewe, Maa and KiMeru, as well as English, French, German and vestiges of South Asian languages such as Punjabi and Urdu, among others. Outside the humanities, I also work on the language and ideas surrounding development in the region, which includes its famed wildlife and national game parks such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. My work takes me to film, theatre, fiction, poetry, memoirs, travel accounts, histories and a ton of scholarship.

Anna Strauss

Anna Strauss, Undergraduate, Class of 2019

What does Comparative Literature mean to you?
It represents a field of study that is not only interdisciplinary and dynamic but also cross-cultural by nature. The opportunity to study across mediums, historical epochs, and diverse cultures is not only tremendously exciting but also critical to us as citizens of the increasingly globalized world. Hopefully, it not only provides us a deeper understanding of the increasingly globalized world, but also allows us to practice, study, and create in a multi-cultural and intersectional future.

What is the best thing about being a Comp Lit major?
For me, as a student with broad interests and a hopeful career path in the arts, it allows a certain flexibility--not only can I develop my skills as a writer and researcher and indulge my deep interest in world history, various artistic traditions, and diverse cultural studies; but I can also develop a base of knowledge and a network of fellow academics and creatives invaluable to me as an artist.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering majoring in Comp Lit?
Ask yourself why the major attracts you, and whether it will be a good fit for you; talk to professors in the department or students already majoring in the field to get a feel for the program. If you think it is the right place for you, be sure to take advantage of how flexible the department and major is--this is a major that can be pretty well tailored to individual students' interests or goals, whatever they may be.