Welcome to the Comparative Literature Program

Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill (CMPL) builds upon a strong foundation of foreign language learning, to promote the comparison of national literatures in their original languages as well as to enable the study of literary theory and interdisciplinary approaches to literature. CMPL's scope has been international and multicultural, reaching across boundaries of many sorts, including not only national and linguistic boundaries, but also disciplinary and cultural ones.

CMPL exposes students to a number of approaches without exclusive adoption of any one of them. CMPL students consider such issues as: What is literature? What is its relationship to language, philosophy, and religion, to political and social movements, to such arts as painting, music, and film, and to culture generally? How do literary movements originate and find expression across national boundaries? What critical approaches or reading strategies are most appropriate to any given text?

Want to know what current students are saying about Comparative Literature Courses?  Below is a message an instructor received from a recent CMPL 121 undergraduate student:

"I just wanted to send you an email thanking you for awakening my passion for literature...I love to read, I love expressing my ideas in papers, and I love getting to the deeper meanings of literary works.  After recitation today I could barely control my excitment.  I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and ecstatic about the progression of this course.  Being a science major, I rarely have time to take courses outside my major, but I heard great things about the course.....I just wanted to say thank you for your mind-opening questions, your enthusiasm in class discussions, and your insight."

What Can I Do with a Major in COMPARATIVE LITERATURE?


Come to the Table: Undergraduate Research on Food and Feasting

Written by Sarah Morris, GRC and graduate student at the School of Information and Library Science:

"By fate or by fortune, this semester I served as the Graduate Research Consultant for CMPL255H: The Feast in Philosophy, Film, and Fiction. The class is beautiful: the students read, research, and write on the ways food and feasting intersect with identity, custom, ethics, and relationships. They examine what facets of the feast speak to cultural priorities, which ones probe at essential humanity..."

Continue reading Sarah's piece at the Graduate Research Consultant Program Blog.

Comparative Literature Major Wins Diversity Award

One of two undergraduate to receive a University Diversity Award, Frank Brady Gilliam, of Charlotte, is a first-year comparative literature major who spent his gap year volunteering as an English tutor and interning in small medical cinics in Thailand, Madagascar, Bolivia and Peru. At Carolina, Gilliam has been a Campus Y intern with global interests, including connecting Duke and UNC students involved in international projects. An LGTBQ activity, he has been a member of the LGBTQ Housing Community Board and conducted research in oral history and queer anthropology. Looking at all Gilliam has accomplished in just his first semester, his nominator said that, in "25 years of teaching college students, it is hard for me to imagine (or even remember) a more desrving candidate for the Diversity awards."
This information was taken from the university press release. Click here to read the full article. 

UNC-KCL 19th Century Studies Partnership Colloquium

This week UNC will host a meeting of the 19th century studies partnershp between UNC-Chapel Hill and King College London. See the embedded PDF for a full listing of events. All events are open to the public. For more infromation about the UNC-KCL partnership, visit the website here. 




Boundaries of Literature Symposium: Elizabeth Grosz Lecture, April 8th

Please join us for Elizabeth Grosz's keynote lecture on "Francis Bacon, Gilles Deleuze, and Imperceptible Forces" on Wednesday, April 8th, at 3:00PM in Toy Lounge, Dey Hall. A Meet and Greet will precede the lecture from 1:30-2:30PM in Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall.

Elizabeth Grosz is a Women's Studies Professor at Duke University. Among her many publications are Volatile Bodies (1994) and her most recent monograph, Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art (2011).

If you have questions, please email BoundariesSymposium@gmail.com.

Critical Speakers Series: Lisa Lowe

Professor Lisa Lowe (Tufts University) will soon visit campus as part of the Critical Speakers Series. See the embedded poster PDF for more information. 

- Seminar: "Liberalism and Empire" // March 19, 3:30 pm in Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall.**

- Talk: "Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal Present" // March 20, 3:30 pm in Toy Lounge, Dey Hall. 

**Professor Lowe has pre-circulated several PDFs. The files are password protected; UNC DOECL members have recieved the password via an email from the department office. If you are not a department member, contact Kyle Rood (krood@live.unc.edu) for the password. 

Foucault, Society Must Be Defended 

Locke, Second Treatise

Mills, Considerations on Representative Government 


First Year Seminars Program

Many English and Comparative Literature faculty at UNC create and teach engaging first year seminars.

"First-year seminars are designed and structured for incoming first-year students with no prior college experience. Students join distinguished faculty members who are active scholars and accomplished teachers in small classes that offer an introduction to the intellectual life of the university and focus on how scholars pose problems, discover truths, resolve controversies, and evaluate knowledge.

First-year seminars go beyond the traditional lecture and discussion format. They invite students to explore new and old ideas, engage with complex issues, and become active learners through inquiry, analysis, discovery, and action."

See http://fys.unc.edu for more information, and check out the video below, featuring our own Professor Jane Danielwicz!

Critical Speakers Series: Kate Marshall

Professor Kate Marshall (University of Notre Dame) will soon visit campus as part of the Critical Speakers Series. See the embedded poster PDF for more information. 

Seminar: "Contemporary Fiction in Geological Time" // February 23, 3:30 pm in Gaskin Library, 524 Greenlaw Hall.

Talk: "Novels by Aliens: Nonhuman Narration and American Realism" // February 24, 3:30 pm in Toy Lounge, Dey Hall. 

Professor Marshall has pre-circulated several PDFs. Click HERE to access the files (you must be logged in with your UNC Department of English and Comparative Literature profile; if you have trouble accessing the files, contact the SITES lab). If you would like acess to the files but do not have a UNC DOECL log-in, please contact Kyle Rood (krood@live.unc.edu) to request the papers. 






Lecture and Discussion with Renisa Mawani

The Komagata Maru, Anticoloniality, and the Itinerant Politics of Indigeneity
A public lecture by Renisa Mawani


Thursday, February 19 • 4-530pm • Donovan Lounge, 2nd Floor, Greenlaw Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill


The ship Komagata Maru – which carried 376 Punjabi migrants from Hong Kong to Vancouver – was the first vessel to be deported from North American waters in 1914. Thus, its journey has come to signal a high mark in immigration prohibitions and racial exclusion in Canada. While this historical narrative is significant in illuminating Canada’s long history of legalized racism and its ongoing politics of settler colonialism, the ship’s journey must also be viewed as a global transoceanic voyage, one that made visible the political, juridical, and racial unevenness of the British Empire. As the ship crisscrossed the Pacific and Indian Oceans it facilitated connections between India, the Dominions, and other British colonies and outposts (including Hong Kong, Malaya, and Singapore). Importantly, its voyage also galvanized support from British Indians across the empire, most notably in India and South Africa.

Drawing from her book, Across Oceans of Law, Professor Mawani's lecture will foreground one effect of the Komagata Maru’s journey: the emergence of a transoceanic anticolonialism that engendered a global and itinerant indigenous politics.




The Atmospherics of Race

A discussion with Renisa Mawani

Friday, February 20 • 4-6pm • Donovan Lounge, 2nd floor, Greenlaw Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill


This seminar will explore the relationship of postcolonial and critical race theories to recent scholarship on affect, species, and new materialisms. In preparation for the seminar, please read the two articles available at https://planetarities.web.unc.edu/events-2/



Renisa Mawani is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, where her research focuses on colonial legal history, critical race studies, oceanic studies, and colonial India and its diaspora. She is the author of Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921.



For more information on these events, please contact Neel Ahuja at nahuja@email.unc.edu. Professor Mawani's visit to UNC is sponsored by the South Asia Faculty Working Group, with the support of the Center for Global Initiatives and the Carolina Asia Center. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Arts and Humanities and the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Critical Speakers Series 2015



KATE MARSHALL (University of Notre Dame)

— Seminar: “Contemporary Fiction in Geological Time”

February 23 (Monday)

3:30 pm

Gaskin Library, 524 Greenlaw Hall

—  Talk: “Novels by Aliens: Nonhuman Narration and American Realism”

February 24 (Tuesday)

3:30 pm

Toy Lounge, Dey Hal

LISA LOWE (Tufts University)

— Seminar: “Liberalism and Empire” 

March 19 (Thursday)

3:30 pm

Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall

— Talk: “Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal Present”

March 20 (Friday)

3:30 pm

Toy Lounge, Dey Hall


For more information on Visiting Speakers and Faculty Talks, please contact David Baker.

Professor Eliza Richards Attends Translation Symposium in China

In the Fall of 2014 Professor Eliza Richards traveled to China for a translation symposium entitled “Emily Dickinson Dwells in China―Possibilities of Translation and Transcultural Perspectives.” This trip was made possible by the generous support of the Carolina Asia Studies Center.