University of South Carolina

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Comparative Literature: What to Expect

The Comparative Literature major at the University of South Carolina is one of few undergraduate programs of its kind nationwide. You will get to work with outstanding faculty that is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity. If you love literature and want to explore texts written in different languages, the Comparative Literature major may be the perfect choice for you! You will learn important skills including reading, writing, critical thinking, and the ability to understand and communicate in one or more foreign languages. During your senior year, you will write a senior thesis, which will allow you to synthesize the work you’ve done throughout the degree. As a Comparative Literature major at USC, you can expect lively classroom discussion built around the close reading of literary texts and the larger questions that arise from reading literature. Learning doesn’t stop in the classroom at USC! There is a real sense of community built within the major through events such as regular lunches with your classmates.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Comparative Literature:

  • World Literature
  • What is Comparative Literature
  • Great Books of the Western World I and II
  • Great Books of the Eastern World
  • Topics in Comparative Literary Relations
  • Senior Thesis

On average, there is a 25 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. Comparative Literature majors have studied abroad in a variety of locations including Italy, France, Germany, China, Russia, Spain, and Costa Rica. Students have also participated in semester or year-long study abroad programs in France, Germany, or Japan. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. Comparative Literature majors may choose to get involved in student language clubs or in plays performed by students in French, German, and Spanish. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. The Comparative Literature program allows interested student to acquire the skills they need to apply for graduate work in Comparative Literature, English, or other languages and literatures. The skills you will develop as a Comparative Literature major are also a great preparation for a variety of other graduate degree programs including law, business, education, and library science.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. The Department of Language, Literatures & Cultures offers a variety of scholarships each year.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Upper-classmen may choose to apply to live in the French House or Spanish House. These houses provide cultural immersion experiences without going overseas, or as a preparation for study abroad in Spanish or French-speaking countries.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Career Opportunities

The skills Comparative Literature students develop in critical reading, writing, thinking, and speaking along with their fluency in at least one foreign language, ensure that they are very competitive candidates for any position in which a Bachelor of Arts degree is a prerequisite. Career opportunities may include employment in government agencies, education, social and health services, import and export businesses, international news media, and immigration services.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina focuses on the teaching of foreign languages, their associated literatures, and global culture. Students learn from native speakers, benefit from innovative web based programs where they interact directly with their peers in other countries, and study with professors who have written the books they use in courses. The department offers undergraduate majors in Classics, Comparative Literature, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. Undergraduate Foreign Language Teaching Certification Program is also offered in French, German, Latin and Spanish. The department is home to internationally known scholars in language acquisition, children’s literature, Chinese, Classics, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is one of the largest and most active in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • The Comparative Literature Faculty is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity.
  • The department is home of the Confucius Institute, a center for the study and teaching of Chinese language and culture affiliated with the Beijing Language Cultural University.
  • Russian major William Brown was recently award a prestigious Boren Scholarship.
  • Professor Nicholas Vazsonyi in German is an internationally renowned Wagner scholar who has lectured at the Kennedy Center and whose recent book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.
Additional Resources
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin