Structure and Requirements
Students may currently pursue three concentrations within the major. All three share the common core requirements (6 c.u.) but vary in regard to foreign language requirements (details provided below) and emphasis of studies.
General Guidelines for the Major
Sincethe Comparative Literature major is highly individualized, it is
crucial that all majors select their courses in close consultation with
the program director. This is particularly important with regard to the
Capstone Experience, in which seniors are required to do advanced
seminar work and/or individualized research. Whenever possible,
students are encouraged to complete a senior thesis.
There are no prerequisites, but all prospective majors are strongly
advised to start their course of study by fulfilling the core
requirements as described below, starting with COML 100, proceeding
with COML 094 or COML 360 or COML 383 in addition to taking COML electives.
Students should also pay careful attention to the language
requirements specified in the description of each concentration.
The Major Program
Minimum requirement: 14 c.u.'s
Core Requirements (6 c.u.'s)
I. An Introductory Course (1 c.u.):
II. A Theory Course (1 c.u.):
- COML 100 (Introduction to Comparative Literature) or
- COML 125 (Narrative Across Cultures)
III. A Capstone Experience (1 c.u. or 2 c.u.'s):
- COML 094 (Introduction to Literary Theory) or
- COML 360 (Introduction to Literary Criticism) or
- COML 383 (Literary Theory, Ancient to Modern)
IV. COML elective courses, chosen to meet the following specifications:
- Graduate Seminar or
- Independent Research Study (COML 499) or
- Senior Thesis (Honors Program COML 499 and COML 498)
- A course of a theoretic nature (e.g. COML 253, COML 263, COML 291, COML 353)
- A course in a non-Western literature or Postcolonial Studies (e.g. COML 118, COML 235, COML 255, COML 266, COML 283)
- A course of choice. Students are encouraged to take multi-period
courses or courses in a period other than their primary focus.
For example, a student specializing in contemporary literature
would be expected to take a course in medieval, Renaissance, or early
Concentrations (8 c.u.'s)
Literary and Cultural Theory:
courses in two national literatures (4 c.u. in each national
literature). These must be intermediate and advanced level courses and
seminars. If both of these national literatures are non-English, only
one of the literatures (4 c.u. need to be taken in a target language.*
The other courses may be taken in translation. Four
Classical Studies courses (in Greek and Latin) and four Judaic Studies
courses (in Hebrew and/or other Jewish literatures) are acceptable
substitutions for one of the national literatures. Sample
concentrations of current Spanish and English (British and American),
French and Russian, Hebrew and English.
- Four courses of a theoretic nature (literature, theater, film, culture) (4 c.u.'s)
advanced literature or film courses and seminars (4 c.u.'s) of which
two (2 c.u.'s) are taught in a language other than English.* One
course (1 c.u.) must be in a non-Western or Postcolonial literature.
* Exceptions may be considered for students with demonstrated proficiency in an African, Asian and other languages in which literature courses are not offered at Penn but in which supervision is available in the form of Independent Study.
- Four courses (4 c.u.) must provide an interdisciplinary background on the cultural, historical, political, economic, and geographical ramifications of globalization and may be taken through a variety of departments, including but not limited to History, Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Political Science, etc. These interdisciplinary courses should be relevant to literary studies.
- Four courses (4 c.u.) in advanced literature, film, or culture. Course themes may include issues like globalization, diaspora, immigration, colonial or international encounters (e.g. COML 093, COML 294). Two of these courses (2 c.u.) should be taught in a language other than English.*
The Honors Program
Minimum requirement: 15 c.u.'s
Honors majors must write a Senior Thesis in comparative literature and/or literary and cultural theory under the guidance of a faculty member. They should have a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher within the major.
Students must be nominated by a faculty member willing to serve as a Thesis Advisor. Students are expected to enroll in COML 499 (thesis preparation) in the Fall and, if the thesis meets the required standard for honors (an A grade), students continue to COML 498 in the Spring.
The Minor Program
The minor consists of six courses split up in the following way (minimum requirement 6 c.u.'s.):
- An introductory course: COML 100 (Introduction to Comparative Literature)
or COML 125 (Narrative Across Cultures).
- A theory course: COML 094 (Introduction to Literary Theory) or COML 360 (Introduction to Literary Criticism) or COML 383 (Literary Theory, Ancient to Modern).
- One course with a COML number, OR a global studies course (e.g., COLL
001, the Pilot Curriculum course on Globalization)
- Three other courses in literature or comparative literature, or some
aspect of globalization.
Departments and Programs
in which courses for COML major and minor can be taken:
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Germanic Languages and Literatures
History of Art
Latin American and Latino Studies
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Romance Languages - French, Italian, and Hispanic Studies (Spanish)
Slavic Languages and Literature
South Asia Studies
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