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What is Comparative Literature?

The "comparative" in "comparative literature" has traditionally denoted an approach that emphasizes relations between different national literatures or the literatures of different ethnic groups. This approach has always placed a strong emphasis on theoretical inquiry and historical understanding (partly because comparative literary study inevitably leads to questions about the nature of literature itself), and has proven particularly receptive to the theoretical inquiry that has swept through the humanities in recent years. Thus, "comparative" has also come to designate an openness to disciplinary crossings as much as an attention to movements across cultural and linguistic borders.

Comparative Literature at Binghamton University

The Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton has a long-standing reputation for its progressive approach to literary studies and is especially known for its strengths in modern literature, literary theory, relations between literature and other arts (particularly film), and relations between literature and philosophy. It is also known both nationally and internationally for its leadership in the area of translation studies.

According to a recent US News report, Binghamton University ranks 12th in the top 104 smartest public colleges in the country, measured by "general cognitive ability" and "brainpower level"


The Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University offers a distinctive undergraduate major and three avenues of graduate study with M.A. and Ph.D. options. It features, in addition to its primary M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Comparative Literature, an M.A. in Translation Studies, a unique interdisciplinary doctoral program in Philosophy, Literature, and the Theory of Criticism, as well as a Ph.D. in Translation Studies through the internationally recognized Translation Research and Instruction Program. For a sample of graduate courses that have recently been offered by our distinguished faculty, please click here. 


• The department is proud to announce the upcoming radio show "Broadcasting World Literature." Funded by an IASH Public Humanities collaborative grant for the coming three years, the show will be produced by the graduate students from Comparative Literature and related departments, in conjunction with Binghamton University's WHRW radio station. Stay tuned for more details!

• Many congratulations to our recent Ph.D. graduates Jason R. Parry for receiving a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship from Purdue's Honor's College and Muna Husain, who is a 2018/2019 post-doctoral research fellow in the Forum Transregionale Studien at the Free University of Berlin. 

• Our graduate student Olga Blomgren has been awarded the 2018-19 Department of Black Studies Dissertation Fellowship from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Many congratulations Olga!

• Two of our graduate students have been awarded Graduate School Excellence Awards: Olga Blomgren for Teaching and Rebecca Forney for Service. We're proud of you! 

• The Department embraces its diversity and welcomes students and scholars from all parts of the globe. Please read our welcome statement.

Last Updated: 9/11/18