Comparative Literature


The concentration in Comparative Literature enables students to study literature in cross-cultural perspectives. The aim of the program is to encourage students to study a varied and illustrative range of literary topics rather than the total development of a single literary tradition.  True to the spirit of Brown’s New Curriculum, a concentration in Comparative Literature affords great academic freedom.  For example: advanced courses in any literature department at Brown count for concentration credit; although English is commonly one of the languages that students apply to their Comparative Literature studies, basically any language--ancient or modern--supported at Brown may form part of a Comparative Literature concentration program.  In essence, concentrators study a generous range of literary works--from Western cultures, both ancient and modern, to Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic--and develop a focused critical understanding of how cultures differ from one another.  Comparative Literature differs from other literature concentrations largely through its international focus and its broad-gauged view of art and culture in which the study of languages is combined with the analysis of literature and literary theory. All students take a course in literary theory and have the opportunity to complete a senior essay. 

Please contact Professor Dore Levy, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, with questions.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Gain fluency in at least one language other than English
  • Develop an understanding of poetry, drama, and narrative in more than one culture and in different historical periods
  • Become conversant in literary theory
  • Develop sophisticated reading and writing skills
  • Produce a body of critical papers


Click here for a list of requirements.

Honors and Capstones

View Honors website

Students may earn honors by successfully presenting a thesis, for the preparation of which they will normally enroll in COLT 1990 in either or both semesters of their senior year. These courses may not be used to satisfy the standard requirements for a concentration. Honors candidates must also normally earn more A's than B's in courses taken as part of the concentration (or receive the equivalent faculty evaluation on a Course Performance Report for courses taken S/NC). 

Honors candidates will present their thesis proposal, signed by the director of the thesis and the second reader, by October 15 of their senior year. They will submit a full draft of the thesis to their readers by March 15 of their senior year and will submit the final version of the thesis, in print and in electronic form, to the department and to their two advisors by April 15 of that year. Honors is granted upon positive recommendation by the thesis advisors. For further information, see this site.


  • Comparative Literature with Three Languages
  • Comparative Literature with Two Languages
  • Literary Translation

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
  • Expand your reading skills
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Develop a facility with symbolic languages
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201334  17 
201425  15 
201536  17 
201621  11 

Alumni Pathways

Graduates with a degree in Comparative Literature have pursued careers as writers and editors, artists, physicians, curators, marketing executives and consultants, journalists, directors of film and television, university faculty, and legislators. Hear what recent alumni have to say about their concentration and their career trajectories on the Comparative Literature department's Career Forum.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Visit this DUG's website to learn more.

Student Leaders:

  • Catherine Liu

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.