Status change for Comparative LiteratureNationally ranked committee now full-fledged department The Committee on Comparative Studies in Literature has been renamed the Department of Comparative Literature, based upon the recommendation of a Visiting Committee that was appointed last year.
"The Committee on Comparative Studies in Literature had been under review by the Humanities Division for the past several years, and it became clear during that time that the committee was doing everything that a full-fledged department was doing -- indeed, we have been nationally ranked with other comparative-studies departments from across the country," said Michael Murrin, Chairman of Comparative Literature and Professor in English Language & Literature. "When the Visiting Committee issued a report recommending that we become a department, the formal mechanism for change was initiated."
The department, like the committee, will grant A.M. and Ph.D. degrees. The department plans to continue admitting between five and 10 students each year into its A.M. program.
"The focus of the program will stay the same, but we are excited about the greater coordination and better use of faculty resources made possible by our new status as a University department," Murrin said.
The Visiting Committee suggested that faculty members retiring this year be succeeded by faculty members in other departments who will hold joint appointments in Comparative Literature. The committee also recommended that each of the next three years, three additional faculty members from other University departments be added to the Comparative Literature faculty, with a particular emphasis on younger faculty.
"The Visiting Committee recommended a blueprint for development that we intend to follow and are already implementing," Murrin said. "Our new faculty members will have joint appointments in their primary departments and Comparative Literature. Departments conducting searches for new appointments are being encouraged to conduct joint searches with Comparative Literature."
Murrin also expects the department to consider establishing an undergraduate concentration in comparative studies in literature, although that option is well in the future. Murrin himself will step down as chairman at the end of this academic year, after serving as chairman for six years.
The Department of Comparative Literature is organized to facilitate the study of literature unrestricted by national boundaries and the conventional demarcations of subject matter. Students arrange courses of study according to their backgrounds and interests.