A message from the Chair

David DamroschOne of the country’s oldest and most distinguished departments of comparative literature – formally established in 1906 after a dozen years of course offerings – our department is also one of the newest. In 2007 the graduate-level Department of Comparative Literature merged with the undergraduate Literature Concentration. Dana-Palmer House, where we had moved a year earlier, became the beautiful home of our newly integrated department. Reflecting the ongoing paradigm shift of comparative studies from an almost exclusive focus on Western European traditions to a newly global awareness, our faculty ranks have expanded in recent years to encompass a world-wide range of languages and cultures, even as we pursue new approaches to an expanded range of European literatures themselves.
The Department’s two dozen faculty are appointed either fully in Comparative Literature or jointly with other literature departments. In this way, Comparative Literature maintains a central position within the humanities at Harvard and provides our students with direct access and connections to departments across the university. We host an exciting array of visiting scholars each year from around the world, and serve as the home base for the Institute for World Literature, a month-long summer program meeting at Harvard and in locations around the world.
At the heart of our activities are our exceptional students, both undergraduates and graduates, working closely with our faculty to devise eclectic, ambitious programs of study that reach widely across linguistic, cultural and disciplinary boundaries. On this site you can learn more about our faculty and students, and you will find extensive information on our programs, newly reconceived to offer fresh approaches to comparative literary and cultural studies today.

– David Damrosch