Comparative Literature is the study and comparison of literary, philosophical and cultural issues that cut across national borders and historical boundaries, or otherwise fail to fit conventional disciplinary categories. Comparative Literature recognizes that literary production never takes place in isolation from other social and cultural trends, and recognizes, too, that cultural maps rarely coincide with national contours. National literatures take shape in a global context. All these considerations govern the intelligibility of the texts we read and it is to this awareness that the discipline of Comparative Literature responds. Students of Comparative Literature approach literatures in English as well as other languages, using methods deriving from philosophy, psychoanalysis, legal studies, political theory and anthropology. Comparative Literature emphasizes studies of cultural interchange, historical periods, major figures, literary movements, aesthetic initiatives, genres, ideas, themes, and values.
The Department of Comparative Literature at Buffalo, rated one of the strongest in the country, is currently developing new interests in nationalism and colonialism, film and popular culture, and gender studies. A comprehensive range of courses is offered, dealing with literature and with literary and critical theory. Courses tackle advanced problems of meaning and interpretation from multiple perspectives. The program also offers upper- and lower-level courses within the framework of undergraduate general education. These include sophomore-level classes aimed at offering an introduction to a variety of literary periods, themes and critical vocabularies.