Comparative Literature trains students in the cultural literacy needed to be citizens of a globalized world. It reaches beyond any single national culture to consider relations between various literatures as well as cultural phenomena such as films, comics, urban space, monuments and politics. Comparative Literature students learn about the historical, linguistic, and cultural contexts of texts as they are produced and received across national boundaries and in response to the dynamics of global movements and crises. In order to be critical readers of such phenomena, students learn the analytic terms and models that have been useful to comparatists in our ongoing effort to interpret the world and the texts we read. We draw on philosophy, social science, and the arts in the development of these models and introduce students to critical thinking both through the objects and historical events we interpret and through the great works of philosophy, literature, and the arts.

The Department of Comparative Literature offers a major with three emphases:

  • Comparative Literature and Critical Theory - Intended for students who plan to pursue advanced study in Comparative Literature
  • Cultural Studies - Intended for students who are looking for a theoretical approach to studying literature and culture; content may overlap with Social Sciences/History/Global Cultures
  • World Literature - Intended for students who wish to study international/world literature across time and space (not only literature written in English)

It also offers a minor.

Careers for the Comparative Literature Major
What kinds of jobs can you expect with a Comparative Literature major?  Any professional work that requires critical thinking and communication skills, proficiency in other languages and cultural literacy.  Some examples include:  preparation for graduate school in any humanities field or for law school, work at corporate communications, court interpretation, the United Nations, and federal, state and local government, teaching at the elementary, high school or college level, administrative, managerial, social service, or non-profit work, nationally or internationally, editorial jobs in magazine and book publishing, TV and film industry, jobs in tourism and other global communications fields.

Social and Intellectual Life
Many of our undergraduate majors take advantage of UROP and SURP to conduct independent research locally or abroad, often leading to honors' theses or presentations at conferences. See the UROP website for more information. The department sponsors meetings so majors can get to know one another. Joining our Facebook page (Comp Lit UCI) is one way to keep up with these and other events. Every year the Critical Theory Emphasis sponsors a one-day conference of theoretical work by UC Irvine undergraduates. The conference is organized by the holder of the Koehn Assistantship in Critical Theory, who solicits recommendations for student presenters from faculty and graduate students and provides student presenters with graduate mentors who help them revise their papers. Comp Lit majors are usually very well represented at this conference.

A Guide to completing the Comparative Literature Major at UCI is available: Please click here.

Student Testimonials

Read for yourself what some of our students have to say about the experience of Comparative Literature at UCI. Please click here.