Comparative Literature at Brown

Comparative literature is the study of literature and other cultural expressions across linguistic and cultural boundaries. At Brown, the Department of Comparative Literature is distinct in its conviction that literary research and instruction must be international in character, and its undergraduate and graduate programs are considered among the finest in the country. Undergraduate students study a generous range of literary works – from Western cultures, both ancient and modern, to Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic – to develop a focused critical understanding of how cultures differ from one another.

The graduate program is a vigorous and comprehensive study of literature and culture, utilizing a range of materials from several literatures to foster an understanding of individual authors, influences, literary movements, forms, and genres in a comparative critical context. The program is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of individual emphases in literature and culture, periods, genres, history, criticism, and theory.

  • For information about applying to our doctoral program, please see here.
  • To what careers can a concentration in Comparative Literature lead? Check out our Career Forum.


Statement of solidarity authored and signed by the chairs
of the Departments of Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies,
French Studies, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, Italian Studies,
Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, and Slavic Studies.

June 16, 2020

Department of Comparative Literature Virtual Graduation Celebration 
Sunday, May 24, 4:00PM EDT. 
We invite all faculty and students to join in this celebration of our Comparative Literature community. 

Message to Prospective COLT Concentrators,
We invite all students interested in declaring a concentration in Comparative Literature to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies with any question about the declaration process. Individual telephone/zoom appointments are available.  Please email Prof. Ourida Mostefai, Director of Undergraduate Studies: [email protected]

$500 Albert Spaulding Cook Prize open to grad students
March 9, 2020
The $500 Cook Prize is awarded annually to a graduate student in any department at Brown University for an unpublished article-length essay on a topic that falls under the category of comparative literature defined broadly, and which is ready for submission to a scholarly journal. Please send an electronic copy by Friday, May 1, 2020, to Professor Marc Redfield, Chair, Department of Comparative Literature at [email protected]. This prize is awarded in memory of Professor Albert Spaulding Cook, Ford Foundation Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, Classics and English (1925-1998).

SPRING 2020 Courses

FALL 2019 Courses

Peter Szendy curates, The Supermarket of Images, at the Jeu de Paume, Paris
February 17, 2020
“In the book, The Supermarket of the Visible, from which this exhibition is derived, the economic aspect of the life of images is called iconomy. The works and artists chosen for the exhibition cast a keen and watchful eye over these issues.” The exhibit is on view from February 11 to June 7, 2020.

Center of ExcellenceTheatre Without Borders
September 27, 2019
The French Embassy announced its 2019 award to the Center of Excellence Théâtre sans frontières, a project led by Karen Newman (Comparative Literature and English).

Michelle Clayton wins John Rowe Workman Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities -- September 2019 

Elias Muhanna wins the 2018 Morris D. Forkosch Prize
August 15, 2019
The Journal of the History of Ideas has selected The World in a Book: Al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition (Princeton University Press) as "the best book in intellectual history" for 2018.

Felix Green and Tavid Mulder join the faculty as Visiting Assistant Professors of Comparative Literature
August 15, 2019
Felix Green and Tavid Mulder completed the requirements for the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown and will offer courses in AY19-20 as visiting faculty members.

Qussay Al-Attabi appointed Affiliated Scholar in Middle East Studies (2019-20)
August 15, 2019
Professor Al-Attabi received his PhD from Comparative Literature at Brown and we welcome him back this year while he is on leave from his position at Kenyon College.

Marc Redfield's book translated into Hungarian
June 11, 2019
Marc Redfield's book, The Rhetoric of Terror: Reflections on 9/11 and the War on Terror (Fordham 2009), has been translated into Hungarian. He was invited to Szeged and Budapest this summer to particpate in related academic events.  

We're moving!
We bid a fond farewell to Marston Hall. After June 1, 2019, you can find the Department of Comparative Literature in Prospect House, 36 Prospect Street.