Comparative Literature Courses

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What is Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature is the study of common features in the literature, cinema, and other forms of cultural production across national and regional boundaries, from an intercultural, interdisciplinary and global perspective.

Comparative Literature typically focuses on the study of literature from two or more different cultures or nations and explores relationships between literature and other forms of cultural expression.

Students of Comparative Literature trace the transformations and travels of literary genres and texts across time and space. They explore the connections of literature with history, philosophy, politics, and literary theory.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Comparative Literature in the following subject areas:

  • Comparative Literature (M.Phil./P.Grad.Dip.) – This course is designed to provide an understanding of Comparative Literature as a subject of study and critical practice.
  • Children’s Literature (M.Phil.) – This course addresses chronologies, genres, modes of criticism, readerships, publishing trends and the full apparatus of literary investigation while exploring the unique power dynamics that arise from adult authors creating texts for younger readers.
  • Literature – A look at English literary works from a variety of fresh and thought-provoking perspectives.
  • Certificate in Literature and Cultural Studies – An introduction to literature and the world of fiction, drama, film and creative writing skills.
  • MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature – The study of the significance of Children’s and Young Adult Literature.
  • Film & Literature Appreciation – An interesting look at themes shared in a diverse range of books and films.

Studying Comparative Literature

There are many courses in Comparative Literature that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Experience in related industries such as bookselling, publishing, film or television is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Comparative Literature course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of literature from different cultures and nations and their history.

As an academic researcher, you’ll apply your expertise and skills developed through study and research. You’ll aim to publish papers on your work in peer-reviewed, well-respected journals and will write reports, books or chapters of books on your specialist area of knowledge.

You’re also likely to be involved in the teaching and supervision of university students and speaking at conferences. Staff employed by research institutes may deliver teaching in the associated universities and supervise PhD, Masters and undergraduate projects as part of their role. This is often a strong factor in helping universities to attract the best students to their academic programmed.

Alternatively, you could find opportunities with a variety of employers, including publishing houses or editorial/technical writing service companies, advertising, marketing and public relations agencies, primary, secondary, further and higher education institutions, media organizations, general businesses and national government, library or charitable organizations.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours are usually advertised as being 35 hours per week. In reality, you’ll work longer hours as required, in order to complete projects and reach publication deadlines and targets. This may include evenings and weekends.

Related jobs include:

  • Academic librarian
  • Arts administrator
  • Archivist
  • Arts administrator
  • Education consultant
  • Creative director
  • Editorial assistant
  • Lexicographer
  • Magazine journalist
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Publishing copy-editor
  • Proof-reader
  • Writer
  • Public librarian
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Records manager

Further study

After completing a course in Comparative Literature you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as History, Literature, Languages, International Relations, Culture and Heritage.


What is the importance of Comparative Literature?

In the field of Comparative Literature, there is a focus on the nature of literature and other media across and between different languages and cultures to gain a broad knowledge of different cultural traditions representing writers and artists of diverse origins and from many historical periods.

What is the difference between English and Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature is multilingual, while English is monolingual. By definition, it is the comparison of literature from different countries, so you are encouraged to learn languages to be able to read some texts in their original language.

Where can I study Comparative Literature?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

  • There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, and most of them are dialects.
  • There are over 200 artificial languages in books, movies, and TV shows, such as “Klingon.”
  • The first printed book was in German.
  • at least half of the world’s population is bilingual
  • Many linguists believe that language originated around 100,000 BC.
  • Argentina still has a high number of Welsh speakers, due to settlers inhabiting the Patagonia Mountains hundreds of years ago.
  • Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel, The Tale of the Genji, in around 1008.
  • The longest sentence ever printed in a novel is 823 words long and is to be found in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

Mariza Halliday

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