Comparative Literature

  • Comparative Literature is the study of literature across linguistic, political and disciplinary borders through the pursuit of philological lines of inquiry in the comparison of cultures and arts. 
  • In a multilingual country situated in the middle of a multilingual continent, Comparative Literature in Bern is concerned with the great European languages of literature: in particular German, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese but also Russian. 
  • Transnational literatures, which emerged from these languages, open up global postcolonial perspectives, for instance with respect to anglophone texts from North America, hispanophone texts from Latin America or francophone texts from Africa. The aim is to read the texts where possible in the original, as far the language skills of students and lecturers allow. Reading knowledge of German, French and English is required.
  • Including the study of Latin an Ancient Greek enables a historical view of Comparative Literature that starts from Antiquity, moving through the Middle Ages up to modernity and the present day. 
  • With its comparative approach the discipline is open to other arts, in particular theatre and film, but also visual arts, architecture or music. Literature can be related to these arts forms, mutual influences can be explored and general questions of aesthetics can be pursued. 
  • As the general and comparative study of literature (Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, AVL), the discipline has a focus on literary theory, the significance of which goes beyond the remit of the study of individual languages and literatures. The theoretical canon of Comparative Literature draws from classical rhetoric, poetics and aesthetics as well as from 20th and 21st-century concepts like gender studies, discourse analysis, (post-)structuralism, and – more recently – ecocriticism.
  • As an area of intercultural study, Comparative Literature does not only build on literary theories but also draws from theoretical discourses within philosophy, anthropology, psychology, history, linguistics, and other fields. 
  • Comparative Literature is well suited both as a main subject and as an addition, extension or specialization when studying one of the individual philological programs at BA or MA level. Alumni are qualified for academia as well as for careers in education, media and culture.   


 Chair: Prof. Dr. Oliver Lubrich