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Comparative Literature?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Extract

What is comparative literature? Not a theory or a methodology, certainly (which raises the question of why this article should appear in a series so entitled), though theories and methodologies aplenty occur as part of its typical business. Is there, or can there be, an object of knowledge identifiable as “comparative literature”?

When I began hearing about comparative literature in the middle 1970s, there was a fairly straightforward means of distinguishing comparative literature on the university campuses where it was done. The English department pursued knowledge of language and literature in one language; the foreign language departments pursued similar studies in two languages (typically English, assumed to be most students' native language, plus the foreign tongue); and comparative literature committees, programs, or departments carried out literary analysis in at least three languages at once.

Type
Theories and Methodologies
Copyright
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2003

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