Comparative Literature and Philosophy

Undergraduates may major in Comparative Literature with a special degree field in interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of literature and philosophy. Students in this track take courses alongside students from other departments that also have specialized tracks associated with the Initiative in Philosophical and Literary Thought. Each student in this track is assigned an adviser in Comparative Literature, and student schedules and course of study must be approved in writing by the adviser, the Director of Undergraduate Studies of Comparative Literature, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Initiative.

A total of 65 units must be completed for this track, including the following
  • Comparative Literature Gateway: COMPLIT 101, "What is Literature?".
  • Poetry: COMPLIT 121.
  • Theater: COMPLIT 122.
  • The Novel: COMPLIT 123.
  • Senior Seminar: COMPLIT 199.
  • Two additional COMPLIT courses taught by members of the department of Comparative Literature. (COMPLIT 181 does not count toward this requirement.)
  • Philosophy and Literature Gateway Course (4 units): COMPLIT 181. This course should be taken as early as possible in the student’s career, normally in the sophomore year.
  • Philosophy Writing in the Major (5 units): PHIL 80.
  • Aesthetics, Ethics, Political Philosophy (ca. 4 units): one course from the PHIL 170 series.
  • Language, Mind, Metaphysics, and Epistemology (ca. 4 units): one course from the PHIL 180 series.
  • History of Philosophy (ca. 8 units): two courses in the history of philosophy, numbered above PHIL 100.
  • Related Courses (ca. 8 units): two upper division courses relevant to the study of philosophy and literature as identified by the committee in charge of the initiative. A list of approved courses is available here.
  • One course, typically in translation, in a literature distant from that of the student's concentration and offering an outside perspective on that literary tradition.
  • Capstone Seminar (ca. 4 units): in addition to COMPLIT 199, students take a capstone seminar of relevance to philosophy and literature approved by the undergraduate adviser of the initiative in philosophical and literary thought. The student’s choice of a capstone seminar must be approved in writing by the Director of Undergraduate Studies of Comparative Literature and by the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Initiative.
  • Seminar Paper: students must write at least one seminar paper that is interdisciplinary in nature. This paper brings together material from courses taken in philosophy and literature, and may be an honors paper (see below), an individual research paper (developed through independent work with a faculty member), or a paper integrating materials developed for two separate courses (by arrangement with the two instructors). Though it may draw on previous course work, the paper must be an original composition, 18-20 pages in length. It must be submitted to the Chair of Undergraduate Studies and receive approval no later than the end of Winter Quarter in the fourth year of study.
Transfer units may not normally be used to satisfy requirements 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 14.

Since requirements sometimes change, you are advised also to check the information in the Stanford Bulletin.

Russell Berman

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