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.
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Center of Excellence: Theatre Without Borders
September 27, 2019
The French Embassy announced its 2019 award to the Center of Excellence for Théâtre sans frontières, a project led by Karen Newman (Comparative Literature and English). The project will feature a conference organized jointly with Lewis Seifert (French Studies) and scheduled for Friday, September 27, and a planned dramatic reading of the first translation of French playwright Corneille's comedy La Galerie du Palais. The conference will explore the work of Corneille in the context of European theatre and the circulation of early modern drama through both translation and performance. Theatrical exchanges and transfers were numerous: French playwrights borrowed plots from Cervantes and the Italian commedia dell’arte; English comedians performed throughout Europe from the 1580s through the first half of the 17th-century, and well-known New York drag queen Ethyl Eichelberger loved performing Corneille and Racine. The conference will feature scholars Christian Biet (Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre), Katherine Ibbett (Oxford University), François Lecercle (Université de Paris-Sorbonne), Michael Moon (Emory University), and Jennifer Row (University of Minnesota).
SPRING 2019 courses are announced!
October 22, 2018
Elizabeth Gray joins the faculty as Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
August 31, 2018
Elizabeth Gray completed the requirements for the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown and will offer courses in AY18-19 as a visiting faculty member.
June 1, 2018
Ph.D. student Geoffrey Wildanger has received a Fulbright Study/Research Award for 2018-2019. He will study in Germany.
Deans’ Faculty Fellowship
May 1, 2018
Ph.D. student Tavid Mulder is named a Deans' Faculty Fellow for 2018-2019.
Marc Redfield is a plenary speaker for the conference, "Romanticism in the Age of World Wars," to be held in Leuven, Belgium, November 11-13, 2018.
Tamara Chin interviewed on BBC's The Forum and in The Diplomat
Tamara Chin, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, was interviewed by The Diplomat for their “Trans-Pacific View Insight Series” on the topic of China’s One Belt, One Road project. She was also a guest on the BBC World Service’s podcast, The Forum, on July 1, 2017, as part of a panel discussing the Silk Road.
Peter Szendy joins the faculty as New Humanities Initiative Scholar
September 7, 2017
Peter Szendy joins the faculty as the David Herlihy Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Brown University. He has taught at the University of Paris Nanterre, the University of Strasbourg, Princeton University, and NYU. Among his recently published works in English: All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage (Fordham University Press, 2016); Phantom Limbs: On Musical Bodies (Fordham University Press, 2015); Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World (Fordham University Press, 2015); Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials: Cosmopolitical Philosofictions (Fordham University Press, 2013). Forthcoming: Le Supermarché du visible: essai d’iconomie (Éditions de Minuit, 2017).
Ourida Mostefai honored by L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques
September 1, 2017
Professor Ourida Mostefai has been honored by the French Society, L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques with a promotion to the rank of Officer. The awarding of the promotion and associated decoration will take place in a ceremony on September 6, 2017, at the French Consul’s residence, in Cambridge, Mass. L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques was established in 1808 by Napoléon in order to honor excellence in French education. The Palmes Académiques is the oldest non-military French decoration.
Dore Levy featured in Brown News
Professor Levy’s career-long work studying “The Story of the Stone,” a 120-chapter classic of Chinese literature, and her effort to make Chinese literature more accessible to modern readers and students, has been featured in Brown News.
Elias Muhanna awarded Whiting Fellowship
The Whiting Foundation has named Professor Elias Muhanna a Public Engagement Fellow. Muhanna's project will focus on "the ways in which the rise of mass literacy in the 20th century and the onset of the digital age in the 21st are transforming the relationship between written and spoken Arabic, and, by extension, the cultural and political landscape of the modern Middle East." Professor Muhanna's award was featured in the April 19 issue of the Brown Daily Herald.
Elias Muhanna's translation of The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition among "Best Books of 2016"
Both The Guardian and National Public Radio named Professor Elias Muhanna's translation of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's 14th century work as one of the best books of 2016. NPR calls The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition "a celebration of knowledge for its own sake."
National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington
Professor Karen Newman featured as part of an exhibit currently at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington: an "interpretation of the Paris studio alcove" of Simone de Beauvoir (see https://nmwa.org/learn/library-archives/library-exhibitions). Above her desk, de Beauvoir had a bulletin board with pictures, quotations, etc.; this has been "reconstructed" with pictures and quotations from critics and theorists who work on her today.
Hannah Freed-Thall named winner of MLA's Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies
New York, NY – 6 December 2016 – The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its twenty-fourth annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies to Hannah Freed-Thall, of Brown University, for her book Spoiled Distinctions: Aesthetics and the Ordinary in French Modernism, published by Oxford University Press. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in its field—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.
Natalie Adler to speak at Pembroke Hall
On December 2nd from 5:30-7:00pm, join the Brown University Psychoanalytic Society in Pembroke Hall Room 202 for "The Ego in Love," a discussion on narcissism. Natalie Adler, professor of Comparative Literature, will discuss and rethink narcissism, its psychical mechanisms, and the desire for a coherent self.
Elias Muhanna Op-Ed in The New York Times
"A Lesson in Emotional Geography" appears in The New York Times' November
19, 2016, issue.
Dore Levy New York University Gazette Interview
NYU Gazette article and interview with Professor Dore Levy who is at the NYU Shanghai campus in fall 2016.
Elias Muhanna in the New York Times Book Review
The NYT Book Review on Professor Elias Muhanna's translation and edition of Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri's The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition.
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.
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.
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.