Comparative Literature and Thought Major

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 27.5-48.5
    • Required Courses (27-36 units):
      • Humanities Core Courses (12 units): All Comparative Literature and Thought (CLT) majors will take two core (one required) courses in "Literature and Arts" and two core courses in "Thought."
      • Upper-Level Courses (15-24 units): All CLT majors will complete at least eight upper-level CLT courses (24 units) at the 300-/3000-level or above. Up to three 300-/3000-level Humanities Core Courses taken to satisfy the 12-unit core requirement above can count toward the eight-course upper-level requirement.
    • Capstone (0.5 units or honors program): All CLT majors will complete a CLT capstone project (unless CLT is not their primary major).
    • Language Study (3-12 units): All CLT majors will pursue second language study. Up to 6 units of foreign language courses focused on literature or intellectual culture may be counted toward the required 24 units of upper-level courses.

Comparative Literature and Thought (CLT) immerses students in modern and contemporary literary and intellectual cultures and in the textual and philosophical traditions that animate those cultures. The curriculum attends to the emergence of a global textual and media culture as well as to the ways in which nations, subcultures, and individuals embrace and resist thatglobal emergence. 

While our faculty and students have wide-ranging interests – intellectual history, translation, arts practice, comparative arts, digital humanities, media studies and book history, political and legal thought – we have built our major and minor upon a foundational curriculum for the humanities. That foundational curriculum focuses on a set of themes and problems that have long preoccupied students and scholars: the nature of textual culture, the philosophical and ethical engagements of literature and the arts, the pressure of politics on literature and thought, the reciprocal pressure of literature and thought on politics, the specific bearing of language on intellectual life, and the transformations and excitations produced whenever texts are translated to another language or to another medium.   

Many of our students are both scholars and makers. In addition to courses in translation practice, we offer courses in multilingual creative writing and arts journalism. Although some of our students do traditional scholarly work for their capstones in the major, others do creative final projects. Our digital humanities group offers students opportunities to participate in collaborative research projects comparable to those offered to students in the natural and social sciences. 

The introductory core of the CLT curriculum engages a major in CLT with literature, intellectual history, social and political thought, and cultural theory. As students progress through the major, they may develop an emphasis in one of those areas, or they may maintain allegiances that blend both literature and thought.

Required Courses

Humanities Core Courses

The CLT Humanities Core is meant to introduce major texts (in both secular and sacred canons) and foundational methods of inquiry in the humanities (formal, generic, historicizing, skeptical, and appreciative) as well as to provide an historical perspective on the development of current categories of sociocultural analysis (i.e., race, ethnicity, sex, and gender).

All CLT majors must take two core courses in Literature and Arts (including one required course) and two core courses in Thought for a total of 12 units in the Humanities Core. 

Literature and Arts
Required course:
Comp Lit 211World Literature3
Plus one of the following:
Comp Lit 313EIntroduction to Comparative Arts3
IPH 201CClassical to Renaissance Literature: Text & Traditions3
IPH 3050Literary Modernities in Europe and America: Text & Traditions3
IPH 307Literary Modernities in East Asia: Text & Traditions3
IPH 201APuzzles and Revolutions: Text & Traditions3
IPH 203CEarly Political Thought: Text & Traditions3
IPH 207CModern Political Thought: Text & Traditions3
IPH 209Scriptures and Cultural Traditions: Text & Traditions3
IPH 310An Intellectual History of Sex and Gender: Text & Traditions3
IPH 320An Intellectual History of Race and Ethnicity: Text & Traditions3

CLT also offers special first-year programs (FYP) and Ampersand courses that will perform the intellectual functions of courses in the Humanities Core above. Please contact the CLT department for additional information about those offered courses, as they change each semester. 

Upper-Level Courses

CLT majors must complete 24 upper-level units. To build on the Humanities Core, these students will take five to eight additional courses at the 300/3000 or 400/4000 level. (Note that several courses in the Humanities Core are offered at the 300/3000 level; these courses can count toward the 24-unit upper-level major requirement.)

Up to 6 units of foreign language courses focused on literature or intellectual culture may be counted toward the required 24 units of upper-level courses with permission of the CLT Director of Undergraduate Studies; students must seek and obtain that permission prior to enrolling in the course.

Language Study

CLT majors should complete four semesters (roughly 12 units) of sequenced courses in a foreign language or two foreign language courses at the 300/3000 level or one foreign language course at the 400/4000 level. (Students will note that three language courses taken in sequence satisfy the Arts & Sciences graduation requirement in Language and Culture.) 


The final semester or two in the CLT major comprises an important culmination. Students enrolled in CLT as their primary major will complete a CLT capstone project. Many will simply revise essays from two upper-level courses and write a sustained essay reflecting on how these exemplify the skills and concerns they have developed over the course of the major. In a few cases, students will complete their capstone requirement by means of an internship. The capstone projects for students pursuing honors are described below.

Additional Information

Honors Program in Comparative Literature and Thought

CLT offers an honors program that requires an additional 6.5 units of course work. Students who have attained a 3.7 grade point in courses in the major are encouraged to apply for admission to the honors program as early as the second semester of their sophomore year and no later than the beginning of the second semester of their junior year. Students seeking CLT honors have two options: honors by thesis or honors by course work. We expect that most CLT honors students will complete their majors with a thesis.

For most students, the honors program will begin in the fall of the junior year, when students enroll in a course in Theory and Research Methods that culminates in the production of a substantial research paper and oral defense. This course is open to students across the humanities. (For students who decide to pursue honors belatedly, the Theory and Research Methods course may be taken during the fall of senior year.) 

In the spring of junior year, students pursuing theses will enroll in a short course of four workshops that address how to refine a thesis topic. The following year, this cohort of CLT honors students will complete their thesis in two semesters of highly collaborative workshops.

In a few instances, CLT honors students will forego a thesis or creative project and will instead enroll in two more 400-level CLT courses, with a capstone essay reflecting on the coherence of those advanced courses or on the friction between them.

Students may be awarded honors, high honors, or highest honors based on the quality of their honors capstone materials. Please note that CLT honors are separate from Latin honors. 

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