Master of Arts (MA)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



The main objective of this dissertation was to provide researchers interested in the history and evolution of "comparative literature" with a collection of references delineating the evolution of the concept and the development of academic departments dedicated to its study. The paper includes a first section describing the main issues contributing to the "identity crisis" with which studies and departments defining themselves as "comparative" were consistently confronted ever since the term was coined. The "preliminary concepts" section offers an overview of the elements that usually confer a "comparative" quality to a literary study, such as interdisciplinarity and multiculturalism, together with a few relevant definitions (in chronological order) describing the commonly accepted meaning of the term at a particular point in time. The next chapter, "chronological overview," continues the analysis with additional details, references and comments also in chronological order, dividing the matter in sub-chapters dedicated to as many historical periods, from the Antiquity until the mid-20th century. A separate section, offers a review of the most important institutions and publications contributing to the development of the comparative field. The last chapter is a sketch of the current status of the concept and of the institutions dedicated to its study. The research for the present dissertation focused primarily on facts and documents from the European and North American continents. Its main purpose is not to arbitrate the multitude of trends and opinions trying to associate the term with a singular meaning. It merely attempts to provide the reader with a systematic perspective of the subject matter.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Alexandre Leupin