Staff Writer declares her love for Julia Tolda Francophone, Lusophone and Anglophone literature. And for the Barnard Comparative Literature Department. And for literature and translation, in general.

Barnard College’s Comparative Literature program gives students the opportunity to explore literature in context with different cultures, disciplines, types of media, and more. Students will dive head-first into translations, gaining an appreciation for world literature and the interactions between languages. Comparative Literature is the program for those with a passion for foreign languages, an interest in understanding and analyzing literature, and who enjoy an interdisciplinary curriculum.


A student can choose to Major in Comparative Literature, and/or Minor in Translation studies. 

To major in Comparative Literature, students must have completed the necessary sequence for entry into the advanced literature courses of their chosen languages, either at Barnard College or beforehand. Students should consult the chair, and choose an adviser from one of their two language concentrations. 

The Comparative Literature Major requires 12 courses: 

  • CPLT BC3001: Introduction to Comparative Literature
  • One (1) course in “Topics in Comparative Literature”
  • Six Courses = Three (3) courses in each of two (2) distinct literary traditions studied in the original language ​
  • Three (3) Elective courses in Literature, of which:
    • ​One (1) pre-modern
    • Two (2) open choices
    • These 3 courses must be comparative or theoretical in nature.
  • CPLS BC3997: Senior Seminar

If, for valid reasons, a student wishes to pursue a program at variance with this model, they should consult the Chair.

The Minor in Translation Studies does not qualify students to work professionally as translators, but rather demonstrates the student’s familiarity with the history and principle theories of the work. Students should meet with Professor Peter Connor to discuss their elective courses. 

The Minor in Translation Studies requires 6 courses:

  • CPLT BC3110: Introduction to Translation Studies 
  • Two or three elective courses, dealing with the history and/or theory of translation, or with language from an anthropological, philosophical, psychological, social or cultural perspective. 
  • One or two language-based courses at the advanced level offering practice in written or oral translation
  • CPLT BC3510: Advanced Workshop in Translation

Overview Of Classes

The Comparative Literature department is small, and the faculty is incredibly attentive. Most courses will have manageable class sizes, a wealth of interesting discussion, and extensive readings. You will learn to communicate, write, and analyze in multiple languages, and gain incredible cultural and historical perspective. 


  • Introduction to Comparative Literature with Professor Sun is a phenomenal course, which will set you up for successful college-level writing and discussion.
  • Introduction to Translation Studies with Professor Connor changed my life and college career for the better. I could not recommend it enough!
  • Choose electives that truly excite and interest you. The freedom of the Comparative Literature program is what makes it so dynamic and special!
    • Some of my personal favorites courses were: Art and Activism in Brazil, Love and Literature, Tragic Bodies, Contemporary Ukrainian Culture, among many others.

Last-Minute Tips

  • Don’t be afraid of taking graduate level courses! They might seem intimidating, but you will not regret the texts you’ll read nor the conversations you’ll have.
  • Take advantage of the size of the department. Attend office hours, learn from your Professors, engage with fellow students.
  • Do your readings and have fun!

The girlies at Milbank, where you will take all your classes via Bwog Archives