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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Comparative Literature

University Park, College of the Liberal Arts (CMLIT)

PROFESSOR CAROLINE D. ECKHARDT, Head

Approaching literature with an interdisciplinary and global perspective, the major in Comparative Literature crosses the boundaries of geography, time, nationalities, languages, and cultures. The world of literature taught draws upon readings from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and from a wide range of historical periods. The range includes recognized great books along with less-known works, including women's literature, colonial and postcolonial literatures, indigenous literatures, testimonies, legends, myths, and folktales, banned books, literatures of the occult, science and detective fictions, virtual worlds, and cultural theory. Students learn to appreciate different languages and cultures, develop the critical skills for literary and cultural analysis, and relate literature to other media, including film and digital media. The major also encourages students to explore the relationship between literature and ethics through course offerings focused on transnational identities, human rights, cultures of globalization, and the problem of violence. A senior seminar clarifies the mysteries of literary theory and provides opportunities for individual projects.

Students majoring in Comparative Literature take courses in the Department of Comparative Literature and in other literature departments. They also develop competence in a foreign language. Study abroad is encouraged: Students may count up to 18 Education Abroad credits toward the major.

Graduates of the Department of Comparative Literature have undertaken careers in teaching, completed advanced degrees in literature, librarianship, law, and similar fields, entered the Peace Corps or other types of government service, and pursued careers in writing and communications.

The department offers a minor in World Literature as well as the major in Comparative Literature.

For the B.A. degree in Comparative Literature, a minimum of 123 credits is required.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Recommended Academic Plan for your intended program.

Scheduling Recommendation by Semester Standing given like (Sem: 1-2)

GENERAL EDUCATION: 45 credits
(6 of these 45 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR)
(See description of General Education in this bulletin.)

FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR:
(Included in ELECTIVES or GENERAL EDUCATION course selection)

UNITED STATES CULTURES AND INTERNATIONAL CULTURES:
(Included in ELECTIVES, GENERAL EDUCATION course selection, or REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR)

WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM:
(Included in REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR)

ELECTIVES: 24 credits

BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: 24 credits
(3 of these 24 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR, GENERAL EDUCATION, or ELECTIVES and 0-12 credits are included in ELECTIVES if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.)
(See description of Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements in this bulletin.)

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR: 36 credits[1]
(This includes 6 credits of GH General Education courses.)

PRESCRIBED COURSES (9 credits)
CMLIT 010 GH;IL(3), CMLIT 100 GH;IL(3) (Sem: 1-4)
CMLIT 400Y IL(3) (Sem: 5-8)

SUPPORTING COURSES AND RELATED AREAS (27 credits)
(Must include at least 15 credits at the 400 level)
a. Language: select at least 6 and no more than 18 credits in the study of a single foreign language and/or literature beyond the 12th credit level. See department list. (Sem: 1-8)
b. Literatures: select at least 6 and no more than 18 credits in courses on literature. Up to 12 of these credits can be taken through departments other than Comparative Literature and the department used to fulfill the "Language" requirement in (a) above. Up to 12 credits may be taken as courses offered through an Education Abroad program with departmental approval. (Sem: 1-8)
c. 3 credits in Comparative Literature at the 400 level. (Sem: 4-8)

Integrated B.A./M.A. Program in Comparative Literature (CMLIT)

The Department of Comparative Literature offers an integrated B.A./M.A. program that is designed to allow academically superior baccalaureate students to obtain both the B.A. and the M.A. degrees in Comparative Literature within five years of study. The first two years of undergraduate coursework include the University General Education and Liberal Arts requirements in addition to language and literature study in the major. In the third year, students are expected to define areas of interest in two primary literatures in different languages. In addition, students in the B.A./M.A. program should begin to undertake work in a second foreign language. The fourth year includes graduate-level work in methodology and the student's selection of primary literatures which replaces comparable 400-level senior year courses. The fifth and final year of the program typically consists of graduate work in Comparative Literature courses as well as the chosen literatures. The program culminates with an M.A. paper.

By encouraging greater depth and focus in the course of study beginning in the third undergraduate year, this program will help students more clearly define their area of interest and expertise in the otherwise vast field of international literatures. As a result, long-range academic planning for exceptional students pursuing doctoral degrees after leaving Penn State, or other professional goals, will be greatly enhanced. The student may also be more competitive in applying for admission to Ph.D. programs as well as for institutional and national grant monies and scholarships.

Admission Requirements

The number of openings in the integrated B.A./M.A. program is limited. Admission will be selective based on specific criteria and the unqualified recommendation of faculty. Applicants to the integrated program:

  1. Must be enrolled in the Comparative Literature B.A. program[1].
  2. Must have completed 60 credits of the undergraduate degree program (it is strongly suggested that students apply to the program prior to completing 100 credits).
  3. Must be accepted without reservation into the M.A. program in Comparative Literature.
  4. Should have a recommended overall GPA of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) in undergraduate coursework and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all coursework completed for the major.
  5. Must present a departmentally approved plan of study in the application process.
  6. Must be recommended by the chairs of the Department's undergraduate and graduate committees.

A typical sequence of coursework for the integrated program would appear as follows:

Year One: 6 credits:

CMLIT 010
CMLIT 100

     
Year Two: 6 credits: Foreign Language (beyond the 12-credit level)
  6 credits: Courses in Literature
     
Year Three: 9 credits: 400-level courses in Literature, including CMLIT 400Y
  (variable credits) Work in foreign language (credits do not count towards the major, but reading proficiency is required for the M.A. degree)
     
Year Four: 3 credits: CMLIT 501, 502 and/or 503
  6 credits: Comparative Literature courses
  6-9 credits:

500-level courses in Literatures (at least 3 credits in non-Anglophone literature)

Year Five 3 credits: CMLIT 501, 502, and/or 503
  9-12 credits 500-level courses in Literatures (at least 3 credits in non-Anglophone literature)
  6 credits 500-level Comparative Literature Courses M.A. paper

[1] A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better, as specified in Senate Policy 82-44.

Last Revised by the Department: Summer Session 2010 (CMLIT); Spring Semester 2012 (Integrated B.A./M.A.)

Blue Sheet Item #: 38-05-099 (CMLIT); 40-06-143 (Integrated B.A./M.A.)

Review Date: 04/10/2012

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