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What is Comparative Literature?

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From English to comparative literature Equipped with a collection of degrees in English language and literature, for two decades, I taught, researched and published in a field called "comparative literature."  As near as I can judge, the discipline got its English name in the early 20th century from a faulty translation of the French expression " littérature comparée ."  The literature which comparativists study isn't comparative in any meaningful sense.   It would make some sense to call the subject "compared literatures" (a literal translation of " littératures comparées ") or, even more obviously and aptly, "comparative studies of literature." However, we specialists learned to succumb and accept the terminology that got us tenure without a whimper until some first-year undergraduate asked us "what exactly does 'comparative literature' mean?" Then we mumbled and grumbled about students who hadn't done enough