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.


Fall 2016 Guest Speaker Events
September 20, 2016, Professor Emily Apter (NYU)
September 26, 2016, Peter Szendy (U. of Nanterre, Paris) 
Canceled-October 18, 2016, Poet Emmanuel Moses
November 10-11, 2016, Screenings with Director Joshua Oppenheimer
November 14, 2016, Professor Susanne Wofford (NYU) 

Workshop and Book Reading/Lecture with Professor Elias Muhanna
Elias Muhanna, Manning Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, hosts a talk and book launch for “Translating a Classical Arabic Encyclopedia” on October 5th, 2016 at 1pm. On October 21st, 2016 at 10am, the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, a signature initiative of Middle East Studies at Brown University, is pleased to announce its annual scholarly gathering, a workshop on the topic of print culture in the early modern and modern Middle East. The event is organized by Professor Muhanna in partnership with Gale Publishers, which will present its new digital text archive entitled “Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library”.

Welcome Emily Drumsta, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Emily Drumsta received her AB from Brown University in comparative literature and her PhD from UC Berkeley in comparative literature (Arabic, French, English). She also holds a certificate from the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad in Cairo (2011). Her research and teaching interests include modern Arabic literature and culture, Maghrebi literature and culture, translation studies, and critical theory. She is co-founder and co-managing editor of Tahrir Documents, a searchable, online archive of pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers collected in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 2011 uprisings and published alongside English translations. 

Mellon Graduate Fellowship
Ph.D. Students Geoffrey Wildanger (Comparative Literature) and Ian Sampson (English) were awarded a Mellon Fellowship for a year-long graduate workshop on Research Poetics / Poetics of Research to be held at Brown during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Dissertation Prize
Natalie Adler’s Ph.D. Dissertation, “Beyond the Poetic Principle: Psychoanalysis and the Lyric” is the winner of the 2016 Marie J. Langlois Prize which is awarded annually by the Pembroke Center for an outstanding dissertation in an area of feminist studies. 

Phi Beta Kappa Awards
Four Comparative Literature undergraduate concentrators were elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2016. We congratulate Layla Ehsan, Kutay Onaly, Nina Perrotta, and Elizabeth Stanfield!

Excellence in Teaching
Ph.D. student Natalie Lozinski-Veach will receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University Awards Ceremony on May 2, 2016 at 5:00pm in Pembroke Hall. 

Book Prize
Professor Tamara Chin was awarded The Association for Asian Studies' Joseph Levenson Book Prize (Pre-1900 China) Honorable Mention for Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination, Harvard University Press (2014).

Deans’ Faculty Fellowship
Ph.D. student Natalie Lozinski-Veach is named a Deans' Faculty Fellow for 2016-2017. Read more here. 

Presidential Masters Prize
Ph.D. student Elizabeth Gray wins the 2016 ACLA Presidential Masters Prize for “Dulcinéia Catadora: Cardboard Corporeality and Collective Art in Brazil.”

Harry Levin Prize
Professor Tamara Chin won the 2016 American Comparative Literature Association's Harry Levin Prize for Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination, Harvard University Press (2014).

Panel on Marc Redfield’s new book
Professor Marc Redfield participates in an event at NYU on February 23, 2016 to discuss his new book, Theory at Yale: The Strange Case of Deconstruction in America, Fordham University Press (2016). Watch the video here.

Deans’ Faculty Fellowship
Ph.D. student Natalie Adler was named a Deans' Faculty Fellow for 2015-2016.