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Overview How is the character of Ulysses portrayed in Homer, Dante, Tennyson, and Joyce, and what do the different characterizations say about the civilizations and the authors who created them? Questions of this sort are fundamental to the study of comparative literature. Comparatists believe that we arrive at a deeper understanding of literary forms, genres, and movements by situating them in international contexts and by exploring the ways in which works allude to each other and connect across national boundaries. Students in the Comparative Literature Program study the literatures of several cultures and national traditions, as well as the concepts underlying an understanding of comparative literature itself. Comparative Literature offers a flexible program of study that leaves the student considerable freedom to pursue his or her own interests while also promoting a broad-based, international, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of literature and culture. Faculty associated with the program currently include many distinguished scholars with national or international reputations.
Because the Comparative Literature program is relatively small, students and faculty work closely together. Given the immeasurable gains in linguistic proficiency and cultural knowledge that can accrue from an extended stay overseas, students are encouraged to explore the various possibilities offered at the University of Virginia for study abroad.
Students who have graduated with a major in this program have been accepted to top graduate programs in comparative literature, English, Spanish, German, French, and classics, as well as top law and business schools. Moreover, the program is also an excellent foundation for a career in international relations.