Program Requirements and Opportunities

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare a major before the end of the sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

For more information, visit the Catalog Homepage to view the current content. To view Catalogs from previous academic years, visit the Catalog Archives page.

Comparative Literature is a joint Bryn Mawr and Haverford program that draws on the diverse teaching and research interests of the faculty at the two colleges, especially but not exclusively those in our many departments of language and literature.The study of Comparative Literature situates literature in an international perspective; examines transnational cultural connections through literary history, literary criticism, critical theory, and poetics; and works toward a nuanced understanding of the socio-cultural functions of literature. The close reading of literary texts and other works from different cultures and periods in their original language is fundamental to our enterprise. Interpretive methods from other disciplines that interrogate cultural discourses also play a role in the comparative study of literature; among these are anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, religion, history, music, the history of art, visual studies, film studies, gender studies, Africana studies, Latin American and Iberian studies, and East Asian studies.

Our students have gone on to do graduate work in comparative literature and related fields; pursued advanced degrees in business, law, medicine, and journalism; and undertaken careers in translation, publishing, international business, diplomacy, and non-governmental organizations.

Learning Goals

  • Students should attain advanced skills in a language other than English and show the capacity to analyze and interpret literary and cultural texts in the original language.
  • Students should attain advanced skills in the interpretation or translation of the literary texts of two distinct national literatures, in the comparative analysis of these texts across national and/or linguistic boundaries, and in addressing, considering, evaluating, and applying specific methodological or theoretical paradigms.
  • Students should make use of these skills in the senior thesis and oral exam, which should also demonstrate the capacity to:
    • evaluate and discuss the merits of a critical or methodological approach.
    • complete an independent scholarly project.
    • bring together and analyze critically, in light of certain central issues and themes, a selection of works of literature and criticism read over the four years.

Major Requirements 

  • COML 200 (Introduction to Comparative Literature), normally taken by the spring of the sophomore year.

  • Six advanced literature courses in the original languages (normally at the 200 level or above), balanced between two literature departments (of which English may be one): at least two (one in each literature) must be at the 300-level or above, or its equivalent, as approved in advance by the advisor. These courses may not all be tagged as COML, and students are encouraged to go to individual languages and literatures pages to find courses, and discuss these with the major advisor.

  • One course in critical theory.

  • Two electives in comparative literature.

  • COML 398 (Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature).

  • COML 399 (Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature).

*In the case of languages for which literature courses in the original language are not readily available in the Tri-Co, students may be allowed to count a course taught in English translation for which they do at least part of the reading in the original language.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for the minor are COML 200 and 398, plus four additional courses—two each in the literature of two languages. At least one of these four courses must be at the 300 level. Students who minor in comparative literature are encouraged to choose their national literature courses from those with a comparative component.

NOTE: Both majors and minors should work closely with the co-chairs of the program and with members of the steering committee in shaping their programs.

Requirements for Honors

Students who, in the judgment of the Comparative Literature Steering Committee, have done distinguished work in their comparative literature courses and in the Senior Seminar will be considered for departmental honors.


The Laurie Ann Levin Prize is awarded annually to the senior major(s) whose work merits recognition for intellectual achievement, as demonstrated in the senior thesis.


Two co-chairs, one at each college, and a Bi- College steering committee administer the program. The committee generally includes those faculty members most often involved in teaching the introductory course and the senior seminar.


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