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Comparative Literature Undergraduate Program

The Department of Comparative Literature brings into sharper focus literatures and cultures from around the world by holding them under a comparative light. It expands the boundaries of national traditions and brings them into dialogue with each other.

Our curriculum seeks to prepare students for reading and research in the languages and histories of different societies and periods. It also emphasized cultural and critical analysis, literary theory and interdisciplinarity. 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.


The undergraduate major in Comparative Literature is designed for students whose curiosity about literature is wider than a single national tradition. In our courses, we think about how literature (very broadly defined) functions in our imaginations, our languages, and our social, political, and economic lives.

The major in Comparative Literature requires students to enroll in a set of core courses offered by the department, to complete electives in the department, and to enroll in additional literature courses, or other courses approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies, offered by other departments. This flexibility to combine literature courses from several departments and to address literature from multiple traditions is the hallmark of the Comparative Literature major. Literature is read in translation, we study translation itself, and the department encourages language study by automatically counting 15 units of Language Center courses towards the flexible electives in the major.

Comparative Literature and Philosophy Subplan

Undergraduates may major in Comparative Literature with a special subplan in interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of literature and philosophy. Students in this option take courses alongside students from other departments that also have specialized options associated with the program for the study of Philosophical and Literary Thought. Learn about Philosophy + Literature at Stanford. To declare, follow the instructions in Axess for declaring a major. Fill the Program Sheet that charts the courses you will take to complete it, have the program sheet approved by your faculty Advisor in a meeting, and then finalize the declaration in Axess. Submit approved Program Sheet to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer for the DLCL. Once the application has been approved, students will be e-mailed a notice of confirmation.

Honors Program

The department's honors option offers motivated Comparative Literature majors the opportunity to write a senior honors thesis. For more information, please read a description of the program.


The undergraduate minor in Comparative Literature represents an abbreviated version of the major. It is designed for students who are unable to pursue the major but who nonetheless seek an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of literature. Plans for the minor should be discussed with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


Declaring involves a few steps. First, complete the declaration worksheet for your major or minor. Remember that this form is simply a way to begin the conversation with your advisor and that you will not be bound to any electives that you initially choose. Next, meet with your advisor, discuss, and agree on a potential plan. When the declaration worksheet is complete, you can then declare on Axess. Finally, you must submit the approved declaration worksheet to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer for the DLCL.

Burcu Karahan

Burcu Karahan
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Comparative Literature
Bldg 260, Rm 232
(650) 723 6608
bkarahan [at] (bkarahan[at]stanford[dot]edu)

Profile Photo - Judy Nugent

Judy Nugent
Student Services Manager
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 127
(650) 723-1967
jnugent2 [at] (jnugent2[at]stanford[dot]edu)

Undergraduate Peer Advisors

Profile Photo - Bea Phi

Bea Phi
bphi [at]

Profile Photo - Nicholas Rosenbaum

Nicholas Rosenbaum
nitarac [at]

Profile Photo - Nitara Connally

Nitara Connally
nitarac [at]