Comparative Literature

Your courses will address literature in the broadest sense, including canonical texts, popular literature, film, and opera from diverse national traditions. As a major, much of your work will be done in other literature departments and will involve reading in foreign languages.

Meghan O’Sullivan ’15
Meghan O'Sullivan '15

Proust and public policy: a student's interests intersect

Meghan O’Sullivan ’15 discovered two new academic loves at Hamilton College – comparative literature and public policy – and majored in both. The common ground, she says, is that both areas of study delve into social and political issues.

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In one comp lit class, O’Sullivan read all 4,440 or so pages of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and found it to be full of social issues.

“Proust's writing is both beautiful and frustrating,” she says. "But the themes in his masterpiece are universal. He touches on many of the same social and political issues we struggle with today."

O’Sullivan did a summer research project that dovetailed with both her majors. She worked with refugee women in the nearby city of Utica to create a podcast about their experiences. The political and social issues of their homelands shaped their personal narratives.

Comp lit’s human perspective complements the quantitative perspective of public policy, says O’Sullivan, who is contemplating, among other options, grad school in public policy.

She likes how comp lit takes on major themes, not tiny details. “And I think it's fascinating to compare literature across different time periods, languages, countries and authors,” O’Sullivan says.

Ross Ufberg '07 and wares from his publishing firm.
Ross Ufberg ’07

A graduate’s progress: publishing and a Ph.D.

In 2012, Ross Ufberg ’07 co-founded New Vessel Press, a publishing firm that specializes in translating foreign literature into English. And he’s pursuing a doctorate in Slavic languages at Columbia University, working on Russian and Polish literature. 

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Ufberg built a foundation for both passions at Hamilton College, where he double-majored in comparative literature and Russian studies. He spent a year studying in St. Petersburg.

What interested him most about comparative literature, he says,  was “the ability to study works from around the world, and see how literature is much more of a conversation between cultures than I'd ever realized.”

Ufberg knew soon into his college career that he wanted to continue working with literature after graduation. “I did know literature wasn't a field of study for me. It was much more than that, it was my life, where I found inspiration and meaning and ethics, too,” he says. “I knew my life had to be immensely involved in literature.”