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 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. Completion of the Yale College foreign language requirement in sophomore year is a prerequisite to entry into the Major. (Students who arrive at Yale with little knowledge of a foreign language may fulfill this prerequisite by completing courses designated L1 and L2 in a foreign language during freshman and sophomore years, but must proceed to the L3 level in the first semester of their junior year.)

All majors are required to take at least three additional term courses, beyond the Yale College foreign language requirement, in an ancient or modern foreign literature, in which the literature is read in the original language. One or more 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). Students are encouraged to continue developing their foreign language skills by taking advanced language courses (at the L4 or L5 level) and may, if the Director of Undergraduate Studies so advises, substitute one such course for one of the three required foreign literature courses.

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.

Junior Year or Term Abroad

The Literature Major encourages students to consider spending a summer, semester, or full year abroad, and courses taken on international programs may, with permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, be applied to the Literature Major’s Foreign Literature requirement.

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.