Comparative Literature * : Overview

Department of Comparative Literature

Contact Information

College of Arts and Sciences
638 Clemens Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260

Phone: 716.645.2066
Fax: 716.645.5979
Web Address:
David Johnson


*Not a baccalaureate degree program

Comparative literature offers interdisciplinary and international study of literature, philosophy, and culture, from Plato to The Matrix. Rather than specializing in periods and nationalities, we ask fundamental questions about what makes culture work, how language operates, what is the relationship between politics and art, and what are the underlying motives for religion. Our courses thus establish a meeting ground between philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminism, political theory, ethics, and religion. This is why we teach enduring works of literature (e.g. by Cervantes, Flaubert, Dostoyevsky, Woolf, Borges, and Kafka) along with major thinkers , such as Plato, Freud, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Derrida, among others. Artists, whether of 'high art' or the mass media, are central to our curriculum because they have posed indispensable questions about the nature of culture, literature, and community. Our literary and cultural offerings have traditionally been small and intensive, focusing on individualized education. Because Comparative Literature is such a small department, our undergraduate courses are seminar classes. Students sit around a conference table and discuss the texts and ideas in detail. The Comparative Literature department offers the possibility of a small college's intimate intellectual community amidst a huge and multidiverse university setting. Of recent years, an increasing number of UB undergraduates have opted either for the Minor in Comparative Literature or the Special Major offered under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences. Many students taking a comparative literature minor find that it provides an indispensable background to almost any major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Because of its rigorous training in analytical and interpretative skills, comparative literature also provides invaluable preparation for graduate school and for careers in law, medicine, psychology, the media, history, sociology, anthropology, and arts management.

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:02:28 EST