Major Requirements

The Literature and Comparative Cultures Major requires twelve term courses, including two required courses (LITR 130 and LITR 140), three courses in a foreign literature, three period courses, and The Senior Essay.  

Students also take three elective courses, one of which must include a significant component of literary or cultural theory. Please contact the DUS to discuss what courses may be counted toward this requirement. One elective course may be in creative writing or Directed Studies.

Required Courses

LITR 130, How to Read, and LIT140, How to Compare, are required courses for the Literature and Comparative Cultures major, as well as the Comparative Literature major. These courses are junior seminars, offered in the fall and spring terms respectively (students may take either course in their sophomore or senior years). LITR143 and LIT348 may be substituted for LIT140. Film Track students must complete LITR 143; Translation Track students must complete LITR 348.

Foreign Literature Requirement

The experience of reading a foreign literature in the original language enables us to understand the nature of both language and literature more fully. Prospective Literature and Comparative Culture majors are strongly encouraged to begin the study of a foreign language and literature as early as possible in their academic careers and to continue such study throughout their time at Yale.

All majors are required to take at least three term courses in an ancient or modern foreign literature, in which the literature is read in the original language. One of these three courses may award the distributional requirement (L5). Up to two courses can be taken at the “basic” literature level (normally equivalent to the third year of language study); however, at least one course must be taken at the “advanced” level (normally equivalent to the fourth year of language study or higher).

Sometimes the most suitable foreign literature course for a particular student will be one that is offered in translation. In such cases, Literature majors are expected to request additional assignments from their instructors in order to enable them to work with texts in the original language. They should fill out a form, signed by the instructor, attesting to their intent to do so. This form is available in the department office; students should submit it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies along with their course schedule.

Non-native speakers of English who are granted permission by Yale College to complete the language requirement by taking ENGL 114a or b, 120a or b, or 450b may take three additional English literature courses to fulfill the foreign literature requirement of the Literature Major or may fulfill the Major requirements in a third language. Students interested in graduate study in literature should be aware that many programs require reading knowledge of two or three foreign languages.

Period Requirement

Because both genres and individual works of literature refer to, emulate, challenge, and even rewrite older works and generic conventions, students benefit from acquiring a degree of historical perspective. The Literature and Comparative Cultures major and the Comparative Literature major require that all students take one course in three of five historical periods: Antiquity, Medieval, Renaissance, 17th-18th Centuries, and the Modern. These courses may be drawn from any department in the University, but must be centered on the study of literature or film.