Welcome to the Department of Comparative and World Literature

Cropped image of globe

What is Comparative and World Literature?

Comparative and World Literature (CWL) is a broad and rich literary discipline that tackles literature across national borders, time periods, languages and genres and crosses boundaries between literature and the other arts. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this field, comparatists acquire solid knowledge in several disciplines of the humanities as well as critical abilities. Defining CWL can be a complex task due to the diversity of interests of the people engaged in this discipline. Here is a definition of Comparative Literature given by Roland Greene:

"Comparative Literature is the laboratory or workshop of all literary studies, and through them, of the humanities. Comparative literature compares literature, not only as an accumulation of primary works but, as the languages, cultures, histories, traditions, theories, and practices with which those works come." ("Their Generation", Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, 1995).

Why Choose Comparative and World Literature?

Since CWL is a broad discipline, students are able to follow a program that can be shaped by their own interests. Indeed, students enjoy a great advantage in being able to choose courses in all the national literature fields, Western as well as non-Western. They are thus able to acquire a broad perspective upon the fields they are interested in and gain a unique knowledge of the world. This cross-disciplinary knowledge is a great asset in today's complex and multicultural society. CWL enables students to develop their own perspective because of the richness of the program.

The Department of Comparative and World Literature featured in the LCA Next Stop video



About the Department

For the latest updates on the Department of Comparative & World Literature, our faculty, students, alumnae/i and community, please check out the first issue of our Departmental newsletter, Comparatively Speaking.

To learn more about our current graduate students, please visit here: http://complit.sfsu.edu/content/cwl-graduate-students.