Majors in comparative literature at Reed cross the boundaries of individual national canons to explore works from different languages, cultures, and periods. Instead of studying literature written in one language, comparative literature majors study literature across national boundaries as well as other cultural expressions, including film, art, photography, and graphic novels. Rooting their comparisons in a theoretical framework, such as gender theory, critical race theory, and political theory, students seek to develop a focused understanding of how cultures differ from one another.
Majors begin their study of comparative literature with an introductory course, which is designed around the areas of interest and specialization of the faculty member teaching that year. Assigned texts have included Omeros by Derek Walcott, Complete Stories by Franz Kafka, and Where Europe Begins by Yoko Tawada. Then, guided by faculty, majors design their own interdisciplinary course of study. There are two central academic paths for a comparative literature major: a student may choose to focus on coursework within the Division of Literature and Languages, studying texts, media, and theory in Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, or Spanish. Alternatively, a student may combine their literary study with other disciplines in the humanities or the social sciences, such as anthropology, art history, and political science.
The flexibility and high level of customization of the comparative literature major allows students to develop close relationships with one another and their faculty as they pursue their academic interests. The community gathers each semester in celebration of another term completed.
“The flexibility of the comparative literature major and the avenue for interdisciplinary study it offers
enabled me to pursue coursework that was uniquely suited to my academic interests. My senior thesis—on theories of visual perception in twentieth-century French philosophy—was both inspired and informed by the art history, French, history, and political science courses I took alongside my literature classes.” ALIZA PHILLIPS ’21
Kritish Rajbhandari ’12
Indian Ocean and Postcolonial Literature
Assistant Professor of English and Humanities Kritish Rajbhandari ’12 researches twentieth and twenty-first-century South Asian and African literature, with an emphasis on literatures and cultures of the Indian Ocean. He teaches courses such as Decolonization and the Novel in Africa, South Asian Women Writers, and Postcolonial Hauntings.
For Kritish, the study of literature is inseparable from the issues of politics and power; so, in his classes, he urges students to think about how literature challenges and reorients our understandings of power structures that permeate our society, culture, and mind. He also teaches Reed’s first-year course, Humanities 110, and courses in the interdisciplinary program, Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies
- Ann Delehanty, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of French & Humanities
- Elizabeth Drumm, John B. and Elizabeth M. Yeon Professor of Spanish & Humanities
- Jake Fraser, Assistant Professor of German & Humanities
- Marat Grinberg (chair), Professor of Russian & Humanities
- Jing Jiang, Professor of Chinese & Humanities
- Mónica López Lerma, Associate Professor of Spanish & Humanities
- Nathalia King, David Eddings Professor of English & Humanities
- Jan Mieszkowski, Reginald F. Arragon Professor of German & Humanities
- Kritish Rajbhandari ’12, Assistant Professor of English & Humanities
Recent Senior Thesis Titles
“Rhythm, Texture, Space: Dimensions of Sonic Textuality”
Ross Avery ’22
“The Portrait Narratives of Gogol and Wilde”
Austin Serif ’22
“A Complete and Precious Thing: Virginia Woolf’s Self-Other Encounter as an Entrance into Time”
Leila Sinclair ’22
“Refracted Bodies: Doubling and Redoubling the Self in L’enfant de Sable and La mucama de Omicunlé”
Luna Albertini ’20
What Do Alumni Do?
English Language Teaching Assistant
Aliza Phillips ’21
George Washington University, Washington D.C.
Maya Arigala ’20
Teline Trần ’20
Junior Software Developer
Gatlin Newhouse ’19
Lindamood-Bell Academy, San Luis Obispo, California
Aditi Kumar ’19
Graduate Student, Germanic Studies
University of Chicago
Nathan Modlin ’19
Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris
Lou Ellingson ’19
Regen Projects Contemporary International Art Gallery, Los Angeles
Sebastian Zinn ’18