The Comparative Literature curriculum emphasizes language learning as the basis for the study of literary texts.

During their course of study, students of Comparative Literature will also become familiar with current comparative methodologies as well as relevant cultural and critical theories. These methodological skills support students’ work as they pursue a flexible and individualized pathway through their program of study, which culminates in an article-length comparative essay. The program is designed to accommodate students at all levels of language proficiency.

Majors in Comparative Literature will develop a plan of study with the guidance of a faculty advisor with expertise in the students chosen primary language and literature, and the Director of the Comparative Literature Program.

The basic structure of the program is as follows:

1. One primary language of study AND

2. Four courses in a secondary language. Students’ first language cannot be their primary language, but it can be their secondary language.  For example, English cannot be the primary language of a student whose first language is English, but it can be the secondary language.


  1. CMLT 0101
  2. Three content courses in the primary language, including two literary classes and one cultural course (e.g. cinema, politics). The choice of particular classes requires the approval of the student’s primary language advisor and the Program Director. Students will also need approval for inclusion of study abroad classes in this category.  In the case of students whose primary language is Arabic, Chinese, Russian, or Japanese, some of these three content courses MAY be taught in English, depending on the availability of suitable courses in the language.
  3. Four courses in a secondary language. If the secondary language is English, at least one course must be pre 1800.
  4. One course in literary theory (suggested for sophomore year), for example ENAM/CMLT 205.
  5. Study abroad, in the primary language.  Exceptions may be made if you receive prior approval from your faculty advisor and the program director. A maximum of 4 courses in literature taken abroad may be used to satisfy other requirements in the major, subject to the pre-approval of the Director of the program. All students must take one class in their primary language after their return.
  6. Two electives explicitly comparative in nature. These literature courses may be taught in English. Examples: CLAS/CMLT 0150; CMLT/RELI 0238; CMLT/CLAS 0450; ENAM/CMLT 0305; GRMN/CMLT 0333; ITAL/CMLT 0299. Suitable classes will be cross-listed and bear the prefix CMLT.
  7. One senior/advanced seminar in literature taken at Middlebury College in the student’s primary or secondary language.
  8. Senior Work (CMLT 0700): During Fall and Winter Term, or Winter Term and Spring, students will write a 35-page (article length) comparative essay (advised independently). Students are responsible to identify and arrange to work with their advisor and the members of their committee no later than the last week of classes in the preceding term.


To be eligible for honors students must have a GPA in the major of 3.7 and a B+ or above on their essay. Students with eligible honors theses will also have a defense before the last day of exams.