The Department of Comparative Literature is a magnet for innovative research and teaching in graduate and undergraduate courses that encourage multilingual, international and interdisciplinary perspectives on literature and culture. Our faculty have joint appointments in Afroamerican and African Studies, History of Art, Asian Languages and Cultures, Classics, English, German, History, Near Eastern Studies, Romance Languages, Slavic Languages, Women’s Studies, and other disciplines, as well as affiliations with area studies centers at the International Institute. In existence for over 70 years, we are one of the best-established centers for the study of comparative literature in the country. Today, our doctoral program is ranked in the top 10 of such programs nationally, and our undergraduate curriculum contributes to college-wide initiatives in international studies and translation studies.
Your Gifts at Work
Our alumni and friends inspire us to keep Comp Lit in the top ranks of the field. Your gifts sustain our undergraduate programs, allow us to invite major figures in the field for lectures and informal talks with students, fund study and research abroad, and underwrite graduate internships that bridge the academic, business, and nonprofit worlds. Your support can also advance our growing undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral translation programs.
“When people ask “what is Comparative Literature?” I say “Comp Lit is what you make it.”
Tyler Berndt’s path to Comp Lit started even before he realized it, when his high school teacher assigned the class Crime and Punishment, his first exposure to world literature outside the English canon. It was a road with several twists and turns: after high school he took 3 years off to work, enrolled in community college, took French lessons, transferred to U-M and participated in a Summer in Europe program that changed his course from the English major he was planning on. “If you like other languages, why not do Comp Lit?” was the question that brought him to Tisch Hall. He took several classes, found great advisors and professors who support his curiosity and language learning and declared his major in Comparative Literature.
His Honors Thesis focuses on a modern Russian novelist, Eugene Vodolazkin, who’s more relevant now than ever. “It’s a comparison of two different kinds of views within Russia, of Russian history, especially given the conflict that’s been going on recently, which is almost unavoidable. Vladimir Putin has been taking a lot of medieval literature and things from the medieval past of Russia and using them as weapons in order to justify this war. What Eugene Vodolazkin does in his book Laurus, is the exact opposite of that, using this kind of anachronistic style in order to talk about healing. I wanted to compare those two competing ideas about the past and how it gets used.”