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World Literature Minor


The Minor in World Literature is designed for students who are interested in literature beyond the boundaries of one national or linguistic tradition but who either do not have the language skills necessary for the Major in Comparative Literary Studies or are particularly interested in non-Western literatures (which are currently taught at Northwestern primarily in translation). Unlike the Major in Comparative Literary Studies, the Minor in World Literature does not have a language requirement. While students are encouraged to use whatever linguistic skills they have in order to read literary texts in the original, they can take courses where literature is read in English translation.

The Minor offers students the opportunity to study literatures from different parts of the world (as well as from different periods). By taking courses from at least 2 different cultural traditions, students are encouraged to examine the relations among different traditions, especially (though not exclusively) the relations between the various traditions of Europe and North America, on the one hand, and those of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America, on the other hand. In so doing students discover the various ways literary texts cross national boundaries and thus become part of “world literature.” This crossing very often involves some kind of translation so that the Minor, while allowing students to read literary texts in English translation, also makes translation one of its objects of investigation.

The Minor in World Literature is suitable for students majoring in any field, who are interested in reading literature; it is also a good complement to a Major in English or in one of the foreign language departments.

Watch videos to hear about what the Comparative Literary Studies Program at Northwestern University means to CLS alumni, faculty, and students!

Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Professor Tristram Nash Wolff (, to set up an appointment to declare the minor.

Minor Requirements (7 units)

Students can take courses where literature is read either in the original or in translation.