If you’re thinking about studying Literature but are looking for something different from the standard English course, Comparative Literature might be for you. So what is Comp Lit? That was the name of my first core module in the first term of University. I can’t say it precisely answered the question that term, because, as I found out, Comp Lit means different things to different people. But over the next three years I found out what it meant to me. So here are the four reasons it might work for you:
1. Incredible variety of texts
Comparative Literature isn’t just about comparing one book to another. It’s also about taking a look at different countries, cultures and time periods. It’s about how they all approach Literature differently. What we can learn in those differences, and what we can learn from their similarities. A lot of people studying Literature in the west got fed up with studying dead, English white men. Academics began to question why the world produces so much incredible literature from other languages and cultures and only 1% of it is translated into English. Comp Lit gives you an opportunity to be introduced to the writers that get lost in the fray. Here at King’s you can study work from England, Ireland, Europe, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. You read novels from Brazil, China, India, and Pakistan. And that’s just naming a few.
2. Working in another language
If you speak another language, you can study and write about texts in the original. Now don’t worry, if you don’t you can still read the translations. But for those of you adept at A-Level languages you might consider taking those skills to the next level. We have lots of ties to the Languages department and its programs. So while studying Comp Lit you can learn a new language or improve in one you already know.
3. Comp Lit Challenges Your Perspective
Comp Lit at King’s challenges your perspective. It doesn’t just ask you to analyse Literature, but asks why you do it. It asks you to think about the after effects of colonialism, about capitalism, about the canon and who decides which books we remember. It asks you to think about why we don’t have a world system of literature, and whether such a thing can even exist. The range of theories and approaches you will become familiar with on the course will allow you a vastly different perspective on everything you read.
4. The Great Staff
Our department is staffed by world-class academics who provide not only great lectures and seminars but expertise in their field. Anything you don’t understand can always be cleared up in seminars or one to one in their office hours.
So if you’re thinking that English might not be quite your thing, it might be time to think about Comp Lit. There’s an entire world of books out there, and life’s too short to study Beowolf.
Find out more about our Comparative Literature BA here.