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The Department of Comparative Literature differs from most national literature departments.

While it seeks to prepare its students for reading and research in the languages and histories of different societies and periods, it is also dedicated to their critical and cultural analysis. Literary theory in all its forms helps to break down the borders between national literary fields, as well as between literary studies and other disciplines. Indeed, the discipline of Comparative Literature asks, often, just what "literature" is, and how it functions as a product of (and response to) our imaginations, our languages, and our social and economic lives. Students in our courses, majors in the department, and graduate students in the Ph.D. program all interact to shape debates about the place of the verbal arts (and the methods of their study) in past times and our own.