The Comparative Literature program considers writing to be fundamental to the development of students’ intellectual, academic and professional lives. All students in the major are encouraged to perfect their writing skills at various stages of their academic career. Seniors must complete a senior research thesis project, in which they will have the opportunity to showcase the writing skills they have learned, including theoretical, critical, and analytical approaches to comparative literary criticism.
In preparation for this project, the Comparative Literature introductory course (CPLT-090-01) includes oral presentations of seminal theoretical texts, two creative writing assignments exploring different literary genres, and two written exams. The assignments foster the practice of comparing and contrasting primary texts and theories, and of supporting arguments with evidence from texts read in class. Students also complete a final research paper that encourages them to make connections between disparate ideas, across different time periods, national traditions, languages, and literary genres, to identify and utilize research sources and to make compelling arguments in comparative literary criticism. This work is facilitated through training in the use of citation formatting and library research techniques.
Throughout the rest of their academic career at Georgetown, Majors are expected to take classes in at least two literary languages and to perfect their writing skills in these languages.
All Comparative Literature Majors enroll in a senior thesis seminar in the spring semester of their fourth year. It is designed as a writing workshop aimed at guiding students in the process of developing their senior theses. The course addresses issues such as the structure of a thesis (chapter division, introduction and conclusion, bibliography and table of contents), original academic argument development, use of secondary sources, etc. The course also features guest lectures by various relevant invited speakers (librarians, graduate students writing PhD dissertations, fiction writers and book authors, for example) to discuss various aspects of the writing process. Students are expected to hone a habit of writing, to offer comments on their peers’ drafts and to revise their work regularly. Giving and receiving feedback on their written texts helps students with their intellectual maturation and results in a more polished final project produced at the year’s end.