Comparative Literature
Department Chair:
Tim Scholl - Chair

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Snell

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8345

King Building 125
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Major/Minor Requirements

Major/Minor Requirements

Tim Scholl

Oberlin College Acting Director, Program in Comparative Literature

Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature

Peters Hall, room 227


A minimum of ten courses (eleven for Honors) to be distributed as follows:
1. Comparative Literature 200, one course.
2. At least one course at the 400 level in a foreign literature taught in the original language (300 in Greek, Latin, Chinese, or Japanese).
3. A comparative reading course the senior year to be supervised jointly by faculty members from appropriate departments. (Honors students must complete two courses over two semesters.)
4. Six or more total courses in literature, theory, criticism, and cultural studies, chosen to include comparative study within or among courses. Up to three courses in related areas may be counted, e.g. history and theory of art, music, film, theater, and dance.
5. At least six courses counted toward the major must be earned at Oberlin College. Students preparing for graduate work in comparative literature are advised to select at least five courses in two foreign literatures taught in the original languages.
Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C-/CR or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.


A minimum of five courses to be distributed as follows:
1. Comparative Literature 200, one course.
2. At least one course at the 400 level in a foreign literature taught in the original language (300 in Greek, Latin, Chinese, or Japanese).
3. Three or more additional courses in literature, theory, criticism, and cultural studies chosen to include comparative study within or among courses.
4. No more than two of the courses required for the minor can also be counted toward requirements for another major or minor. Three of the four courses other than CMPL 200 should have some clear thread of connection: they might be from the same century in different literatures, study the same genre (tragedy, fiction), pursue a single theme or topic, etc. At least three of the courses must be earned at Oberlin College. Under normal circumstances a minor must be declared by the beginning of the second semester of the junior year.

Honors in Comparative Literature

Students who wish to pursue Honors should apply by April 15 of the junior year. Admission will be granted on the basis of the grade-point average in the college and the major, faculty recommendations, and a written proposal. The project will be for two courses during the two semesters of the senior year, normally under the supervision of two faculty members from different departments. Interested majors should consult the current Comparative Literature Program director.

I) Requirements

• GPA: Minimum GPA in the major and in the college: 3.5.
• Faculty Support: The student must have support from two faculty members willing to advise the project.

II) How to Apply

By April 22 of the junior year, students must submit a proposal to the current Comparative Literature program director.

• Name
• Declared major(s) and minor(s)
• Current GPA overall and in CMPL
• Tentative project title
• 4-6 page project narrative
• 1-2 page preliminary bibliography (annotations optional).
• Statement of faculty support from two potential advisors.

III) The Project Narrative

The narrative is the most significant part of the proposal. There is no standard format, but the following questions must be addressed:

• What do you propose to study, and why? (Describe your research topic and how you came to it.)
• What is your background in the areas you propose to study? (Describe relevant coursework, language levels, and other significant experience or training that has prepared you for this project.)
• What are the theoretical grounds for the comparison? (Describe the theories, methodologies, and frameworks you intend to use.)

IV) Statement of Faculty Support

The proposal is not complete unless it includes letters (or emails) from two faculty members in areas relevant to the project. Faculty members must confirm 1) that they consider the project to be valuable and feasible and 2) that they are willing to serve as advisors if it is approved.

V) Completing the Honors Project

Fall Semester:

• “Substantive progress” report. By November 1, advisors must send a brief message to the CMPL director describing whether or not the student has made “substantive progress” on the honors project. If yes, then the student will enroll for 3 credit-hours for the spring semester to finish the project. If not, then the Honors project will revert to the required 3-hour senior project. The November 1st deadline is early enough that the project can be reconceived on a smaller scale.

In each case, the two faculty advisors are responsible for determining what constitutes substantive progress. This may vary depending on the nature of the project, but in all cases the student will have met with both advisors, shown work in progress, and discussed the feasibility of the remaining proposed work.

Spring Semester:

• Students submit a work of approximately 40-60 pages to both advisors by April 25. The advisors and one external reader will conduct a final oral exam of 45-60 minutes and make recommendations for honors. The comparative literature committee will then meet to consider all the honors recommendations together, and forward a list to the College Honors committee. This committee makes the final decisions.