Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature is a Bi-Co (Bryn Mawr and Haverford) program that draws on the diverse teaching and research interests of the faculty at the two colleges. Our allied faculty includes professors in Arabic, Chinese, Classics, English, Film Studies, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Music, Philosophy, Russian, Spanish, and Theater.

The study of Comparative Literature situates literature in an international perspective; examines transnational cultural connections through literary history, literary criticism, critical theory, aesthetics and poetics; and works toward a nuanced understanding of the socio-cultural functions of literature. The structure of the program allows students to engage in such diverse areas of critical inquiry as East-West cultural relations, global censorship and human rights, diaspora studies, film history and theory, and aesthetics of modernity. Therefore, interpretive methods from other disciplines also play a role in the comparative study of literature; among these are anthropology, area studies, classical studies, ethnology, gender studies, history, history of art, philosophy, and religion.

Besides representing literary and cultural study with a global reach, the Comparative Literature major aims to develop student analytic and interpretive skills that are the hallmark of liberal arts education. By promoting sustained engagement with language(s) and texts, our program encourages majors to become attuned to the complexities of human communication within and across many borders. The program offers a rich variety of courses that are international and interdisciplinary. We encourage our students to study abroad either for a summer term or a semester, or, in some cases, for two semesters and try to place them in programs that best meet their linguistic and academic needs. The students begin the major with the core course, “Introduction to Comparative Literature” and end with the “Senior Seminar,” where their capstone experience involves writing a senior thesis that draws on various forms of analyzing arts, literature, and culture.

Our students have been recipients of many prestigious awards, including Fulbright German Academic Exchange, Andrew M. Mellon, Max Kade, and Watson fellowships. Alumni surveys have consistently reflected the high satisfaction rate of our graduates who have gone on to highly selective graduate schools, law school, publishing, international business, diplomatic careers, and rewarding work in NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

Comparative Literature:

  • The dynamics of translation
  • The literature of migration
  • The classical origins of modern texts
  • An interdisciplinary major in the humanities
  • The relations between literature and performance
  • The relations between literature and philosophy, or visual culture, or anthropology...
  • The forms of fiction or poetry in different languages
  • Questions of poetics
  • And other creative approaches to literary study

Contact Us

Comparative Literature

Old Library 103
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5198
Fax: 610-526-7479

Shiamin Kwa
Co-Chair and Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Co-Director of Comparative Literature
Phone: 610-526-5671

Maud McInerney, Co-Director and Major Advisor
The Laurie Ann Levin Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English
Woodside Cottage 203, Haverford College
Phone: 610-896-1156

Leslie Diarra, Academic Administrative Assistant
Phone 610-526-5198