Comparative Literature

Comparative literature at SDSU offers students the opportunity to study a broad range of literature from various cultures around the world. Courses are offered in European literature from ancient to contemporary times; in the literature of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; in folk literature, legend, fantasy and science fiction; in literary theory; and in special topics, such as literature and existentialism, Japanese literature and film, and rock poetry. All reading is done in English translation. Majors who plan to do graduate work in comparative literature are required to complete additional courses in a foreign language literature taught in the original language. Other majors, including those pursuing a teaching credential, are not subject to this requirement.

Traditionally, comparative study has been based on literary movements, periods, and lines of influence, as well as on genres, themes, myths, and legends. In recent years, comparative literature has come to include the comparison of literature with other areas of human experience, as well.

Because the field covers so wide a range, the comparative literature student does not acquire a comprehensive knowledge of any basic list of "great works." Such a list, for all of world literature, would be far too long. Instead, students learn various comparative approaches to literature, along with specialized knowledge of areas that particularly interest them.

Program Overview

The upper-division curriculum requires students to choose one of three areas: European literature; Asian, African, and Latin American literature; or comparative literary theory. Each area of study allows students to choose courses from a list of comparative literature offerings in that area, as well as courses from a list of related courses offered by other departments. Students who are preparing to do graduate work in comparative literature, are required to take literature courses in a foreign language taught in the original language. Students who are not preparing for comparative literature graduate work may take their additional courses in British or American literature or creative writing.

Special Features

  • The Department of English and Comparative Literature sponsors a series of presentations throughout the school year by well-known fiction writers, poets, and literary scholars.
  • Visiting literature professors from other countries offer courses in the department.
  • In addition to Pacific Review, other department sponsored journals include Fiction International, Poety International, Recovering Literature and Nineteenth Century Prose.

Career Opportunities

Comparative literature is an excellent major for anyone who desires a broadening and enriching liberal arts education. Because it provides students with sensitivity to international cultures, it is particularly useful for careers in foreign service and international trade. Translating, editing and publishing, journalism, broadcasting, and film are other possibilities, as well as advertising and public relations, politics, writing, library work, and criticism. Comparative literature is also, like English, an excellent foundation for careers in the professions, especially law.

The comparative literature major may also be used as preparation for the single subject (high school) teaching credential in English. Graduate study in comparative literature may lead to teaching at more advanced levels.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Comparative Literature program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the University. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.