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Comparative Literature and Languages


Students when you read a work of literature, much of the meaning is derived from the language in which it was written, the historical period during which it was composed, and the culture in which it is situated. When novels are translated into different languages, do the original themes remain intact?

This is a major for students who love literature and have an aptitude for languages. By studying comparative literature, you'll come to understand the ways that storytelling and literary themes vary and evolve across cultures, time, and genres. You'll learn why the classics - The Iliad, The Odyssey; Oedipus the King, works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Cervantes, to name a few - have transcended time and place, and continue to speak to and inspire readers.

Hofstra's varied slate of cultural offerings, and our location just a short train ride from New York City means you'll have ample opportunities to enrich your studies with plays, lectures and other events and programs. Our Great Writers, Great Readings series brings world-renowned  novelists, poets, playwrights and essayists to campus each semester. Other recent on campus events have included a performance of Sophocles' Antigone by the Theatrikos Kyklos, an ensemble featuring actors from the National Greek Theater and the Athens and Epidaurus festivals.

Competence in multiple languages and literatures will help you develop cross-cultural understanding and communication skills that are critical in today's global society, and prized across many different industries.


Comparative Literature teaches students how to look at the world through literature, via a transhistorical and transnational lens. Students learn history, theory, and criticism, the process and theory of translation, textual analysis, and writing research and oral presentation skills.

Many students in this program have additional concentrations in a foreign language area or in one of the social sciences. Some students choose to minor in World Literature. Others, with a strong interest in Asian Studies, choose to major or minor in that discipline.

Students pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature are required complete coursework in at least two foreign languages. In the first foreign language, students are expected to achieve full professional proficiency. In their second foreign language, they take at least two courses beyond level 2, reaching limited professional proficiency.

In addition to studying languages, students take courses in the literature and cultures of Europe, ancient Rome, Greece, and China and Japan. The literature courses are taught in translation, though students with linguistic fluency are encouraged to read and study works in their original language.

Because it is an interdisciplinary course of study, Comparative Literature students take at least two courses in another discipline, including anthropology, art history, drama, history, music, philosophy, and sociology.

There also are minors in Comparative Literature and World Literature.

Up-to-date information about required classes and more is available in the Hofstra Bulletin.

BA in Comparative Literature and Languages Requirements

Recent Alumni Outcomes

Alumni from Comparative Literature embark on a variety of careers, including journalism, interpreting, government, art. Fluency in a foreign language, required by this program, gives students a competitive edge in the workforce. Alumni have the ability to deal with an international clientele, can represent employers abroad.

Among the places where our recent alumni are working include:

  • Peace Corps
  • Wiley Publishing
  • EBSCO Information Services
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Bellmore Memorial Library
  • Hunter College Campus Schools
  • Multilingual Word
  • Tutor Perini

Comparative Literature also prepares students well for a variety of advanced degree programs, including business, law or education. Our students have gone on to graduate studies at:

  • Columbia University
  • College of William and Mary
  • University of Kent, Canterbury
  • University of Washington
  • Hofstra University
  • CUNY Hunter College
  • East China Normal University
  • University of Iowa
  • University Of Vermont
99% are employed, grad school or both
94% accept a position within six months
$36K median salary
Get More Info on Program Outcomes

Experiential Learning

Students abroad

Hofstra offers study abroad programs across the globe, which are great opportunities for comparative literature students to immerse themselves in the language and culture of other countries.  Our programs, which are primarily held during the January and Summer intercessions, include Athens, London, Japan, Venice, and other places. They may also consider Hofstra's European Odyssey class, a semester-length study abroad program in which students travel with faculty throughout Western and Eastern Europe by minivan, studying geographical, historical and contemporary topics in at least 10 countries.

Students in the Department of Comparative Literature, Languages and Linguistics also participate in the Aequora program, a nationwide community service project in which volunteers teach Latin and classic works of literature to elementary and middle school students. Our students are currently running this program at a local public library.

Comparative Literature students have completed internships in a wide assortment of companies, mainly in publishing and related areas. Among the places where our recent students have interned are:

  • Macmillan Learning
  • Massapequa School District
  • Freeform Radio Initiative, Inc.
  • Northwell Health
  • CITYarts, Inc.
  • Archeodig
  • Donadio and Olson Literary Agency
  • EBSCO Information Systems
  • i-Health
  • Innocence Project
  • Long Beach School District



Dr. Donahue is vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs and internationalization, a professor of German language and literature and coordinator of Hofstra’s German program. Here, he talks about the value of seeking out international post-graduate fellowships and scholarships like the Fulbright program.