What is Comparative Literature?

The "comparative" in "comparative literature" has traditionally denoted an approach that emphasizes relations between different national literatures or the literatures of different ethnic groups. This approach has always placed a strong emphasis on theoretical inquiry and historical understanding (partly because comparative literary study inevitably leads to questions about the nature of literature itself), and has proven particularly receptive to the theoretical inquiry that has swept through the humanities in recent years. Thus, "comparative" has also come to designate an openness to disciplinary crossings as much as an attention to movements across cultural and linguistic borders.

Comparative Literature at Binghamton University

The Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton has a long-standing reputation for its progressive approach to literary studies and is especially known for its strengths in modern literature, literary theory, relations between literature and other arts (particularly film), and relations between literature and philosophy. It is also known both nationally and internationally for its leadership in the area of translation studies.


The Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University offers a distinctive undergraduate major and three avenues of graduate study with M.A. and Ph.D. options. It features, in addition to its primary M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Comparative Literature, an M.A. in Translation Studies, a unique interdisciplinary doctoral program in Philosophy, Literature, and the Theory of Criticism, as well as a Ph.D. in Translation Studies through the internationally recognized Translation Research and Instruction Program. For a sample of graduate courses that have recently been offered by our distinguished faculty, please click here. 


• Marilyn Gaddis Rose, Distinguished Service Professor of Comparative Literature, passed away peacefully on November 15, 2015. Marilyn was a beloved presence in our department. We will greatly miss her intelligence, elegance, and sense of humor. She has made enormous contributions to Comparative Literature, Translation Studies, and our campus in the more than 45 years that she devoted to Binghamton University. Marilyn Gaddis Rose earned national and international recognition for her pioneering scholarship in Translation Studies. Click here to read her obituary on InsideBU.

• The department is proud to announce that three students received an Excellence Award 2014-15 from the Graduate School

Research: Julia Ludewig
Teaching: Isabella To
Service: Anastasiya Lyubas

Last Updated: 11/16/15