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

Contact Information

Department of Comparative Literature

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2712

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Department Chair

Niklaus Largier

4117 Dwinelle Hall

nlargier@berkeley.edu

Department Manager

Lydia Yoon

4205 Dwinelle Hall

clfamanager@berkeley.edu

Faculty Undergraduate Advisor

Ellen Oliensis

7233 Dwinelle Hall

eolien@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Advisor

Nina Rennert Cohen, MA

4118 Dwinelle Hall

complituga@berkeley.edu

Head Graduate Advisor

Robert Kaufman

4125 Dwinelle Hall

robkaufman@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Rita Lindahl-Lynch

4120 Dwinelle Hall

complitga@berkeley.edu

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