Majoring in Comparative and World Literature (CWL)

Total Minimum Units For The Major: 39 Units (for 2015/2016 and earlier)

The new Major and MInor requirements, taking effect in Fall 2016, can be found here (pdf).

Core Courses: 12 Units

These three courses must be chosen in consultation with departmental advisers. Each course must involve comparison of literary texts from more than one national/linguistic tradition (for example, CWL 420, Studies in Comparative Literature; CWL 430, Heroic Tales of the Mediterranean).  Only one of these courses may be an appropriate lower-division CWL course (for example, CWL 230, Introduction to World Literature; CWL 250, Fables and Tales; CWL 260, Myths of the World)


Program Electives: 27 Units

Program Elective Minimum Distribution Requirements

(to be selected only in consultation with an adviser)

Note: The Program Elective Minimum Distribution Requirements do overlap; that is, it is expected that some courses will fulfill more than one distribution requirement (for example, French 525, 17th and 18th Century French Theater, could count as one course in a single non-English literary tradition, one course that focuses on literature written before 1800, and one course that is part of the student's defined area of focus). The overall goal of the program electives is to combine a sense of the historic, linguistic, and critical breadth of literary studies with a student-defined area of focus that fits within the general discipline of comparative literature.

Students should take careful note of the fact that, no matter how much the distribution requirements may overlap, a minimum of 27 units is required in the area of “program electives”.

In addition to the following distribution requirements, all majors must have reading competence for literature written in at least one language in addition to English. Most students will fulfill this requirement by successfully completing an adviser-approved course on literature written in another language. The requirement may also be met by examination when there are no appropriate courses available.

  • 2 courses in a single non-English tradition (in original or translation)
  • 2 courses in a second national/linguistic literature tradition (this may be English)
  • 2 courses that focus on literature written before 1800. These courses must differ in either period or literary tradition
  • 1 course that includes a literature "less commonly experienced" in the student's academic preparation. For Example: African, African American, Asian American, Chinese, Israeli, Japanese, Lesbian/gay, La Raza, Latin American. This course cannot be part of the student's focus (see below).
  • 4 courses that define an area of focus or an organizing principle for the student's studies. These might emphasize an historical period, a genre, a single national literature, or a topic in literary study. Development of the overall program and focus will be addressed in CWL 400, Approaches to Comparative Literature, which should be taken as early as possible. 

Students have a wide range of options, structured by the current interests and future plans developed in their Student Portfolio and in consultation with department advisers. In constructing an elective program, students must choose upper-division literature courses that fulfill the distribution requirements described above.

Upper-division courses in departments other than Comparative and World Literature, English, and Foreign Languages and Literature that focus on literature or literary theory (for example, courses in Classics, Ethnic Studies, Humanities, Women and Gender Studies) may be used for program electives with the approval of a department adviser. Students should also consider how their General Education Segment III cluster and university elective units supplement their work in the major (please note that no more than two courses used to fulfill Segment III requirements may be used to fulfill major requirements). See sample programs for some suggestions regarding selection of electives and defining an area of focus within the major.

Student Portfolio

All students must compile a Student Portfolio of their undergraduate major (requirements available at department office and on this website) in consultation with departmental advisers. All students are required to meet with a departmental adviser each semester.

Please note that up to 9 units, maximum, in lower-division CWL courses only, may be used toward the total units; all other courses must be upper-division courses.