Comparative Literature

University of California, Berkeley

Overview

Literature is a cultural site where the present is negotiated, the past is excavated, and the future is envisioned. In a globalized world where the circulation of blogs, legal documents, political manifestos, manuscripts, online journals, and images constantly shape and reshape human experience, understanding texts is utterly essential. 

Comparative Literature provides students with tools for analyzing texts, writing, editing, translating, and thinking across disciplinary and national boundaries. Our graduates engage a variety of literary traditions and historical periods, from Latin American concrete poetry to the discourses of political and race theory to Yiddish experimental fiction. The department offers rigorous training in the following areas of strength of our internationally recognized faculty: French, German, Italian, Hebrew Studies, Classics, Critical Theory, East Asian Literatures and Arts, Performance Studies, Film and Media, Poetry and Poetics, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Postcolonial Theory, English and American Literatures, Early Modern and Renaissance Studies, and Slavic Literatures and Cultures.

All members of the department are deeply invested in the academic development of our students and value you as an integral part of the Comparative Literature community at UC Berkeley. The department aims to develop your creative and intellectual interests and talents. Students receive the opportunity to pursue rigorous research in a variety of fields according to their interests; engage in team-based projects; participate in discussions about political, aesthetic, and social issues; and develop a nuanced cross-cultural understanding of historical and social processes.  All of our students work closely with cutting-edge scholars in their fields in small seminars, with extensive individualized work. Our students form a well-integrated community, and have access to all of the resources of all other Berkeley campus departments and faculty: in fact, our program requires that students take seminars in other departments for interdisciplinary training. We have one of the most successful placement records for our graduates of any program in the country, and of any Berkeley graduate program. Our doctoral graduates are prominent comparative literature and national literature faculty across the country and the world.

Our students benefit from training in comparative literature and go on to work in a variety of professions, including journalism, media, publishing, translation, theater, and politics; as well as taking many roles in the legal, corporate, social, medical, and arts sectors. Additionally, we prepare our students to enter top graduate programs in the U.S. and abroad.

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong." —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Undergraduate Program

Comparative Literature: BA

Graduate Program

Comparative Literature: PhD

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Courses

Comparative Literature

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Faculty

Frank Bezner, Associate Professor. Medieval Latin literature; Medieval literary culture; Neo-Latin; Intellectual history.
Research Profile

+ Karl A. Britto, Associate Professor. Africa, cultural studies, the Caribbean, literature, francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial literature, Vietnam, gender and identity.
Research Profile

Judith Butler, Professor. Critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, comparative literature, 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, social and political thought, philosophy and literature.
Research Profile

Anthony J. Cascardi, Professor. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
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Anne-Lise Francois, Associate Professor. Popular culture, English, comparative literature, the modern period, comparative romanticisms; lyric poetry; the psychological novel, novel of manners; gender, critical theory; literature, philosophy; fashion.
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+ Timothy Hampton, Professor. Culture, politics, English, comparative literature, French, renaissance and early modern European culture, the romance languages, the ideology of literary genre, the literary construction of nationhood, the rhetoric of historiography.
Research Profile

Victoria Kahn, Professor. Rhetoric, comparative literature, Renaissance literature, poetics, early modern political theory, the Frankfurt School.
Research Profile

Robert G. Kaufman, Associate Professor. Modern/contemporary poetry and poetics; aesthetics, literary theory, and history of criticism; Frankfurt School Critical Theory and the arts.
Research Profile

Chana Kronfeld, Professor. Comparative literature, modernism, Hebrew, Yiddish, modern poetry, minor literatures, politics of literary history, feminist stylistics, intertextuality, translation studies.
Research Profile

+ Leslie V. Kurke, Professor. Classics, Greek literature and culture, archaic Greek poetry, Herodotus.
Research Profile

Niklaus Largier, Professor. Religion, literature, German, history of medieval and early modern German literature, theology, mysticism, secularism, senses, sensuality, history of emotions, passions, asceticism, flagellation, sexuality.
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Michael Lucey, Professor. Pragmatics, the novel, sexuality studies, comparative literature, French, French literature, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, British literature and culture, social and literary theory, cultural studies of music, studies of language in use, theories of practice, twentieth-century American literature.
Research Profile

Tom McEnaney, Assistant Professor.

Eric Naiman, Professor. Sexuality, history, comparative literature, Slavic language, ideological poetics, history of medicine, Soviet culture, the gothic novel.
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Ellen Oliensis, Professor. Latin Literature, Ovid.
Research Profile

Harsha Ram, Associate Professor. Russian and European romanticism and modernism, Russian and European avant-gardes, Russian, European, Near Eastern and South Asian poetic traditions, Indian literature, Italian literature, Georgian history and literature, theories of world literature, literary theory, comparative poetics, genre theory, literary history, comparative modernisms and modernities, vernacular and high culture, cultural and political history of Russia-Eurasia and the Caucasus, postcolonial studies, theories of nationalism, imperialism and cosmopolitanism, the city and literature.
Research Profile

Miryam Sas, Professor. Comparative literature, 20th century avant-gardes, Japanese literature, film, theater and dance, contemporary art, critical theory, gender theory.
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Barbara Spackman, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, culture, fascism, gender studies, comparative literature, Italian studies, narrative, European decadence, travel writing.
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Sophie Volpp, Associate Professor. East asian languages and cultures, history of performance, gender theory, the history of sexuality, material culture, material objects in late-imperial literature.
Research Profile

Dora Zhang, Assistant Professor. Critical theory, linguistics, narrative and the novel, 20th and 21st century Britain.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Maria Kotzamanidou, Lecturer.

Annalee Rejhon, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Robert B. Alter, Professor Emeritus. Comparative literature, Near Eastern studies, 19th-century European and American novel, modernism, literary aspects of the bible, modern and biblical Hebrew literature.
Research Profile

+ Bertrand Augst, Professor Emeritus. Literary criticism, semiology.
Research Profile

Phillip W. Damon, Professor Emeritus.

Eric O. Johannesson, Professor Emeritus.

+ Francine R. Masiello, Professor Emeritus. Gender theory, culture, globalization, comparative literature, Spanish, Latin American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, comparative North and South literatures.
Research Profile

James T. Monroe, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Comparative Literature

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2712

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Department Chair

Sophie Volpp

4125 Dwinelle Hall

volpp@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Adviser

Anatole (Tony) Soyka

4118 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1202

complituga@berkeley.edu

Head Graduate Adviser

Robert Kaufman

4125 Dwinelle Hall

robkaufman@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Services Adviser

Rita Lindahl-Lynch

4120 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2629

complitga@berkeley.edu

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