Aileen Chu

Class of 2011 - Comparative Literature
The two words that come to mind when I think of Comparative Literature are connections and meaning. Comparative Literature is about making connections, and as such encompasses for me a wide range of interests--literature, theory, art, comics, film, philosophy, spirituality and psychology, among others. And by teaching me to locate meaning in and across various texts, Comp Lit has not only taught me how to read, write, think more critically, but also how to create meaning in my life and in what I do.

Viliana de la Rosa

Class of 2012 - Comparative Literature
I love studying Comparative Literature because students can approach theory, literature, philosophy, and art beyond traditional disciplines. I enjoy the freedom to construct my own arguments with philosophies and theories I feel are relevant in a global and personal context. I appreciate using my creative and critical strengths to form my own theories in small seminar settings where I can share and evaluate my work. As a Comparative Literature student, I feel lucky to have great professors who are encouraging and helpful in advising students. It is truly an honor to be a part of this major, where I have evolved from a C to an A writing student. I am excited to learn and continue my own research in a space I feel comfortable writing critical, political, and historically relevant work. In this sense, studying Comparative Literature has strengthened my skills as a writer as well as complimenting my social, political, and cultural interests in understanding and breaking down the problems in our current society. As an Education minor, I can use my skills to analyze the problems within our current education system and work towards resolving them in meaningful ways. I am also excited to double major in Spanish Literature, because I believe it is important for students to be connected the world around them and because reading and writing in several languages is empowering and crucial in this field of study. I find the major as intellectually challenging as it is rewarding, anything but conventional.

Earl Foust

Class of 2012 - Comparative Literature/History
Formally, I came to Comparative Literature (CL) a little late in my time at UCI. I entered the university as a History major and had little interest or knowledge of what CL was about. I was interested in History as narrative, as a discipline dedicated to telling the stories of people and events from the past. I always had a particular interest in historiographical problems; why stories were/are told a certain way and the impacts of various 'ways of storytelling.' CL complements these interests by supplying students with a vast array of theoretical frameworks, all of which compile into an exhaustive toolkit for analyzing not only literature as 'fiction' but texts and social phenomenon in general. In seeking to understand the world, I feel it's added valuable perspectives. Encountering this department and the valuable faculty and students within has been one of my greatest experiences at UCI.

Connie (Wang) Griffith

Class of 2006 - Comparative Literature
"I studied at UCI from 2002 to 2006, and remember that period of my life as one of growth and joyful revelation. During my time in the comparative literature department, I was taught how to think deeply and engage critically with ideas, and through the mentorship of many excellent professors developed the research and writing skills I needed to express and articulate my own. These skills have proved invaluable to me in my career in game development, where I am constantly analyzing ideas and experiences in order to be able to better craft my own for players. I worked for eight years at Blizzard and am currently working as a senior game designer at Sucker Punch Productions (Sony Interactive Entertainment) in Seattle, Washington."

Lena Grimm

Class of 2019 - Comparative Literature
"I switched into comparative literature during the summer before starting my freshman year (I had applied as a Biology major) – and though I was nervous about switching majors so early on, it ultimately ended up being the best decision I've made in my college career. Studying literature has allowed me to explore new fields of study (I've since added Classics as a second major), start learning new languages, and study abroad in Berlin! Next year I'll be going to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to start a Ph.D. graduate program in comp. lit."

Andy Hoang

Class of 2009 - Comparative Literature/Bio Sci
By definition, CL is the study of literature across languages, genres, and forms.  As a discipline, it'll inspire you to constantly question the boundary of literature.  For me, literature is indeed represented by Kerouac and Salinger, but best embodied in the stories exchanged in a crowded Vietnamese marketplace (on which I wrote my thesis) or in the inchoate, yet deeply poetic musing between farmers in northern Thailand (where I did my Fulbright).  As a student of facts, formulas, and test tubes, CL was my humanistic escape.

Preston Hoppers

Class of 2012 - Comparative Literature/English
I am double majoring in Comparative Literature and English. I'm also minoring in Spanish and in Educational Studies, where I have been fortunate enough to do directed research helping low-income high school students write a play they are going to perform at the end of their semester. I am going to Argentina this summer, and I plan on staying one more year at UCI and hopefully studying abroad in Spain. I transferred here last year from community college. After I graduate, I'm going to try to pursue a Master's degree in Communications because I would like to work for some kind of nonprofit organization like Transparency International ( I'm going to apply to USC as well as some universities in the UK and continue to study languages. Com Lit is BY FAR my favorite department that I have worked with. The classes I have taken in the department have been the most interesting and rewarding classes I have taken and the professors are all top notch and have, I believe, prepared me better for graduate school than any other departments I have worked with.

Hassan Mukhlis

Class of 2013
The study of comparative literature provided me a unique set of skills and techniques to use while in law school. Law school requires an appreciation of context such as history, culture, and political climate in order to understand how judges, legislatures, and professors interpret the law. Additionally, word usage may also be affected by society at the time the law was written. The skills and techniques I acquired while studying comparative literature are essential for a well-prepared undergraduate student pursuing a degree in law.

Catherine Nguyen

Class of 2005 - Comparative Literature
"I applied to UCI as a comparative literature major because I knew that it was the major that would provide an opportunity to consider literature in different ways. It was through a course on intertextuality that I gained a sense of how expansive and capacious comparative literature is. Working with faculty, I began to integrate my interests in French and Francophone literature and attend to my Vietnamese culture and background. Despite my family's coming from Vietnam, I had never thought of this because they never spoke about it. I am now a Vietnamese diasporist literary scholar. With comp lit's flexibility and support, I studied abroad in France for a semester, conducted year-long and summer research projects, and presented at undergraduate conferences at UCI and out of state. All this helped me to win a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue a master's in Aix en Provence, France, and then to complete a Ph.D. in comparative literature at UCLA on Vietnamese diasporic literature in English and French. I am currently a lecturer on history and literature at Harvard, where I teach seminars on Asian American graphic novels and post/colonial education. It all comes full circle: the works on Vietnam colonial education and early Vietnamese literature in French that I had consulted and used at the beginning of my undergraduate research are now the texts I teach in my history and literature tutorial on education and empire!"

Jamie Noh

Class of 2011 - Comp Lit
"I originally came into UCI as an English major, hoping to pursue teaching English at the high school level. I hadn’t even heard of comparative literature until Tim, my instructor for one of my lower division English classes, mentioned that he was a comp lit grad student. For the final paper in his class, I ended up applying a theory from my criminology class to the novel, Catch 22. After seeing my interest in interdisciplinary research, Tim suggested that I check out some comp lit courses. When I first took a look at the course list and the course descriptions, I was amazed by the variety of captivating topics and wished I had known about this department before I entered college. I ended up switching majors at the beginning of my junior year and never looked back. Joining the comp lit community at UCI allowed me to encounter and befriend passionate peers and dedicated faculty, while developing multi-genre, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary awareness that has provided me with invaluable insight and tools for teaching. Since graduating from UCI, I got my single subject teaching credential in English and currently teach Contemporary Literature at Northwood High School in IUSD."

Kelly Novahom

Class of 2016
Earning my degree in Comparative Literature was the best education I could have received. If you're passionate about understanding our world through a political, cultural, and personal lens, through literature, art, and visual media, among other mediums, this is the place for you. The Comparative Literature department offers smaller classes and faculty that care deeply about your academic growth. Being able to think critically and write well are two invaluable tools in life. As a Comparative Literature major, I worked on establishing a magazine (The Exhibit), engaged in self-directed research (through UROP-SURP), and participated in conferences (UROP Syposium and Undergraduate Critical Theory Conference). These skills were essential to me landing freelance writing jobs, jobs in the legal field, and higher education administrative jobs. Recently, I worked as a Legal Investigator doing mainly research and report writing and switched over to working back at UCI at two large campus research centers that valued my academic experience. In the future, I hope to pursue a Master's in Social Work and Education and teach at the university level. Part of being a Comparative Literature major is opening yourself up to the unknown and embracing all the opportunities the discipline offers you.

Oliver Patterson

Class of 2019 - Comparative Literature
"Switching to a Major in comparative literature was the smartest career move I ever made. Everything about the professors and the way the department is run has motivated me to work harder every quarter, and a ton of doors have opened up for me that I didn't even know existed. If you want to get really good at reading and writing while learning about cultures around the world from their respective bodies of literature, this is the major for you. I'll be teaching for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in Los Angeles next year and applying to M.F.A. programs and a Fulbright scholarship too!"

Vivien Phung

Class of 2012 - Comparative Literature/Bio Sci
Being a Comparative Lit major has allowed me tap into a part of my intellect that I had not been able to being a pure science major at UC Irvine. Of course, I took Hum Core as a freshman, but the stricter guidelines imposed somewhat restricted my creativity and confidence to write. In each of the Comp Lit classes I've taken at UCI, I've felt like I was stepping into another world. Sometimes I followed a feminist fighting against the oppressing gender standards of her country and sometimes I followed the 60's counterculture and its role behind the advent of internet culture. In my Comp Lit classes, I feel like there are no restrictions on what we study. That is also why the major is so difficult to explain to my friends. It's hard to define Comparative Literature. The professors in the department challenge their students to think critically, above and beyond. And that's what we do. I feel like being a Comp Lit major helps me with my science-related classes as well. I find myself asking "why" rather than blindly accepting and memorizing facts. I think that if every science major would take a Comp Lit class, they would be able to exercise their minds in a way that they are not able to in their everyday science-centered curriculum.

Stephanie Pulles

Class of 2013 - Comp Lit and Economics
“When I transferred to UC Irvine, I chose to study comparative literature because I was already interested in non-canonical literature, and wanted to explore my relationship to Latin American literatures and the historical, social, and economic contexts from which these texts emerged. Once here, I found that the comparative literature program offered an incredibly flexible space to pursue substantive and theoretical interests at the intersections of multiple disciplines. I developed an interest in urban space, mobility, and post-colonial studies, all of which was supported by the generous mentorship of faculty in the department. By integrating my training in comparative literature, economics, and statistics, I was able to develop research that interrogates how minority and immigrant communities materialize. To this day, as I pursue a doctoral degree in (now) sociology, I continually pull from the theoretical foundations I gained in my comp. lit. courses. The intellectual space that exists here is the most exciting place on campus to engage in meaningful work pushing forward disciplinary boundaries.”

Martin Vega

Class of 2005 - Comparative Literature
"As a comparative literature major at UCI, I was lucky to find a community of students and professors working on literary traditions that don't fit neatly into the traditional Western canon. Reading literature from other cultures, from across the globe, taught me the importance of translation and the value of being multilingual. All of this resonated with me as a first-generation student and son of Mexican immigrants. My degree provided me with the tools to read the world critically, to propose original research projects, and to write persuasively. That training led me to Ecuador on a Fulbright fellowship in 2007-2008, where I studied the literary and geographical mapping of that country's regional cultures. From there, I entered a doctoral program in Romance languages and literatures at the University of Michigan, where I then completed a dissertation on the women of Mexico's conquest narratives. After completing my Ph.D., I took a postdoctoral position at Harvard University where I taught courses on gender in conquest narratives, shamanism, and Aztec/Mexica culture. Currently, I am a professor at Scripps College, where I teach similar courses that draw on the bounty of resources available in southern California for scholars and students interested in working with indigenous communities and native plants while also learning about the shared colonial histories of Mexico, the US, and the rest of the Americas."