Program in Comparative Literature
317 Cabell Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400770
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4770
Overview How is the character of Ulysses portrayed in
Homer, Dante, Tennyson, and Joyce, and what do the different characterizations
say about the civilizations and the authors who created them? Questions of this
sort are fundamental to the study of comparative literature. The program is
designed for the student whose literary interests lie beyond the confines of
any one canon of literature. As the word comparative implies, the program permits
students to combine courses from several literature departments into a coherent
program, which is neither restricted to one national tradition nor to one language.
Students will study the literatures of several cultures and national traditions,
as well as the concepts underlying an understanding of comparative literature
Faculty As might be expected with an inter-departmental
program, the faculty represent a wide range of departments. Once a student has
been accepted into the program, he or she is assigned a faculty mentor who works
in an area of the students interest. Because of the small size of the
program and the competitive nature of acceptance, students and faculty work
closely together. There are frequent gatherings-such as guest lectures and informal
thesis presentations by fourth year students-where faculty and students can
Students In order to permit majors to develop a sense
of participation in a common endeavor and ensure adequate advising, the Program
in Comparative Literature is held to fifteen students per class. This means
that all courses specific to the program are quite small and intensive.
There are three formal prerequisites for admission to the program.
First, students must complete a two-semester survey of Western literature from
antiquity to the Renaissance and from the Enlightenment to the present (CPLT
201, 202). These two classes cover Western literature from antiquity to the
early twentieth century and emphasize learning through the study of recurring
themes, as well as the texts themselves and the personal and social aspects
of literature. Second, students must submit a brief writing sample that highlights
their skills in literary analysis. Third, prospective majors must demonstrate
sufficient interest in the goals of the program through an interview with a
member of the comparative literature faculty.
Students who have graduated with a major in this program have
been accepted to top graduate programs in comparative literature, English, Spanish,
German, French, and classics, as well as top law and business schools. Moreover,
the program is also an excellent foundation for a career in international relations.
Requirements for Major The major in comparative literature
permits a student to combine courses from several literature departments into
a coherent program not restricted to one national tradition or to one language.
Students selecting this major take at least two advanced courses in a national
literature other than English or American, with readings in the original language,
and three additional major literature courses, one of which focuses on some
other national literature(s). In the fall semester of the third and fourth year,
all majors take a required seminar (or an authorized equivalent) that prepares
them for conceiving and writing a thesis in their final year. A reading course
is required in both semesters of the fourth year to ensure progress on the thesis.
The total requirement, including the two program seminars and the year of thesis
writing, is 27 credits beyond the prerequisites.
Requirements for Minor The minor consists of 12 credits
beyond the prerequisite, including CPLT 351. Each students program must
embrace at least two national literatures and must be approved by the director.
For more information, contact Elisabeth Ladenson, Department
of French, 317 Cabell Hall, P.O. Box 400770, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4770;
(434) 924-7738; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.virginia.edu/complit.
CPLT 201, 202 - (4) (Y)
History of European Literature from Antiquity to the Renaissance and from
the Enlightenment to the Present
Surveys European literature from antiquity to the twentieth
century, with emphasis on some recurring themes, the texts themselves, and the
meaning of literature in broader historical contexts.
CPLT 351 - (3) (Y)
Topics in Comparative Literature
Explores a topic in literary theory and criticism. The seminar
topic changes from year to year. Generally offered in the fall semester and
required of third-year majors.
CPLT 493 - (3) (Y)
Seminar for Majors
Offered in the fall semester primarily for fourth-year majors.
The seminar topic normally changes from year to year.
CPLT 497-498 - (6) (S)
Fourth Year Thesis
Two-semester course in which the student prepares and writes
a thesis with the guidance of a faculty member. In the fall semester (497),
the student develops a proposal and works out methodological problems in the
form of a preliminary essay; in the spring (498), the student writes and submits
the thesis in two drafts.