The Discipline

The discipline of Comparative Literature, as envisioned at the University of Colorado at Boulder, enables students to study the production, reception, and interpretation of written texts and related media from a comprehensive perspective involving at least two national literatures. Comparative Literature has long crossed national linguistic frontiers. The discipline today questions the very basis of such boundaries, exploring the construction of national literatures, languages, and traditions and, insofar as this can be read in and out of verbal and other media, of nations and national consciousness itself. Extending its reflections on limits still further and in dialogue with other disciplines, the interpretive perspectives of Comparative Literature are not only crossdisciplinary, multi-media, and multilingual, but global. The aim is to analyze the world’s literatures and cultures both as expressions of the various interdependent histories that have framed them, and as manifestations of the multifacetedness inscribed in the different forms by which human beings shape and communicate their experience. These forms can range from a single literary genre, period, movement or tradition to larger concepts and constructs such as gender, sexuality, theory, or culture. Areas of analysis may also include authorship and the literary work, literacy, genre, literary history, and the canon.

Not all comparatists will focus on these issues; indeed, the future of Comparative Literature will pose other, as yet unarticulated, questions. It is thus central to the discipline, and essential to the intellectual vitality of the community of comparatists, that each student construct a program of study tailored to meet their particular disciplinary and methodological training needs. The courses and colloquia offered in the program bring together graduate students and faculty from various national literatures as well as from a changing set of complementary fields. In this way, the student’s comparative studies create an intellectual and pedagogic space in which boundaries between traditional humanistic disciplines can themselves be transgressed and challenged.