What Can I Do with My Comparative Literature Major?

Overview

The program in Comparative Literature, offered by the faculty of Languages and Linguistics, provides students with the opportunity to study literature within its cultural contexts. Majors in comparative literature focus on two different literary traditions through the study of literary works in their original language. In addition, students are encouraged to explore the relationship of literature to philosophy, politics, the arts, and film. The program in comparative literature allows students to combine the human and intellectual resources from various departments: Arabic, Classics, English, East Asian Languages and Cultures, French, German, Italian, Linguistics, Slavic Languages, and Spanish and Portuguese. Students must choose a concentration in two of these departments; however, they are encouraged to take courses from other departments. Comparative Literature students can also double major with disciplines beyond the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, such as business, government, philosophy and many others. Students must have proficiency in one foreign language and a reading knowledge of a second foreign language. Students work with the Program Director to create a plan of study that is comprehensive in its scope and allows for full exploration of cultural and literary theory. Students also complete a senior thesis of their choosing.

A comparative literature major provides students with a solid foundation in the humanities, while at the same time allowing the freedom to pursue other interests. Majors in comparative literature will be well prepared for graduate studies in the humanities, anthropology, and sociology as well as careers in law, business and publishing.

Skills

The study of comparative literature allows for the development of an analytical and multi culturally aware interdisciplinary understanding that permits students to succeed in virtually any profession. A sampling of representative skills and abilities follows.

Research

  • Gathering information
  • Using original sources
  • Applying theoretical approaches to problems
  • Establishing hypotheses
  • Defining problems
  • Summarizing and presenting information
  • Evaluating results

Critical Thinking

  • Approaching problems from diverse perspectives
  • Avoiding simplistic conclusions
  • Perceiving patterns and structures
  • Reading critically
  • Thinking independently

Communication

  • Writing effectively
  • Reading critically
  • Conveying complex information
  • Speaking to groups
  • Presenting research findings
  • Creating persuasive messages
  • Using precise language
  • Assessing an audience

Human Relations

  • Understanding human relationships
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the origins of western culture
  • Appreciation of human history and development
  • Identifying cultural/social considerations
  • Comparing cultures
Sample Internship Opportunities
  • Publishing (e.g., Teacher Magazine, Oxford University Press)
  • Advertising (e.g., Redman Communications, TBWA/Chiat Day)
  • Marketing (e.g., Leo Burnett USA, McCann Erickson, Saatchi & Saatchi)
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (e.g., the World Bank)
  • Embassies
  • Government (e.g., the State Department)
  • Education (e.g., Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, Learning First Alliance, READ Foundation)
  • Entertainment (e.g., National Public Radio, DC101 Radio Station, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center)
  • U.S. Congress

Where are Georgetown Comparative Literature Majors Now?

  • Photographer
  • Fine artist
  • Theatrical actor/Manager
  • Publisher/Editor
  • Screenwriter
  • Journalist/TV reporter
  • Public relations associate
  • Editing assistant
  • Writer’s agent
  • Internet specialist
  • Marketing account executive
  • Advertising account executive
  • Human resources specialist
  • Consultant
  • Investment analyst
  • Lawyer
  • Radio producer
  • Psychologist
  • Legislative assistant
  • Research analyst
  • Mediator
  • Policy analyst
  • Community organizer
  • Caseworker
  • Government relations associate
  • Paralegal Teacher
  • Professor
  • Affirmative action officer
  • Student services administrator
  • Librarian
  • Medical School
Relevant Web Sites and Publications

Comparative Literature program at Georgetown
Association of Departments and Programs of Comparative Literature
Career Opportunities for Majors in Comparative Literature
Comparative Lit Studies at Penn State University

Professional Organizations

American Comparative Literature Association
International Comparative Literature Association
Association of Literary Scholars and Critics
American Society of Journalists and Authors

For information about career options, internship and full-time opportunities, contact the Career Education Center at One Leavey Center, (202) 687-3493. For more information about the major and degree requirements, contact the Department of Comparative Literature.