GUIDE TO STUDY
Founded in 1975 at the urging of students, the Department of Comparative Literature has become one of Princeton's most important endeavors in the humanities. Undergraduates are drawn to the department because it offers rigorous education in the influential texts of many cultures as well as superb opportunities to extend inquiry across disciplines. These students are guided by a distinguished faculty that is renowned for pioneering scholarship—in everything from Japanese Noh drama to the European novel—and dedicated to the complex mission of teaching subjects that span borders, centuries, and civilizations. Noted for excellence since its inception, "the Department of Comparative Literature plays a major role in Princeton's efforts to foster understanding and communication among different cultures," said President Shirley M. Tilghman.
The Department of Comparative Literature invites students to approach literature from a broad, cross-cultural perspective. The curriculum encompasses literatures and languages from around the world—including those of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—as well as interdisciplinary work of many types. While each student in the Department is expected to focus his or her studies on a particular foreign language and literature, an interest in the way different literatures illuminate one another, or enter into dialogue with other disciplines, media, or forms of art, is fundamental to our work.
Students motivated by a desire to understand literature in the broadest terms, as well as those interested in particular examples of literary comparison, will find an intellectual home in the Department of Comparative Literature. The flexibility of the major has always been one of its strong points. With the guidance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the junior and senior advisers, each student creates a program of study tailored to his or her intellectual interests, choosing courses and independent projects that contribute to the whole.