Brett D. Wilson, '92 (wrote on January 17, 2012)
I graduated from Dartmouth in 1992 with a degree in Comp Lit. From there I went on to earn a PhD from UPenn, finishing in 2003, and I'm now a recently tenured Associate Professor of English at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. I thought that the Comp Lit program might be interested toknow that my book on 18th-century British drama, A Race of Female Patriots: Women and Public Spirit on the British Stage, 1688-1745 has just been published by Bucknell University Press. And my interest in literary scholarship all began with a course with Peter Bien on Odysseus/Ulysses... in Fall 1988!
Meg Donohue Preuss, '00 (wrote on October 25, 2011)
I have no doubt that my comparative literature studies at Dartmouth ('00) helped me land my wonderful, first post-college job in the foreign rights office of International Creative Management's literary department in NYC. There, I supported a team of agents dedicated to finding foreign publishers for American authors and eventually managed translation deals in Eastern Europe and Greece. While the role fed my interest in contemporary literature, translation, and foreign cultures, and I really enjoyed working in publishing, I always knew that I wanted to be an author, not an agent. So I enrolled in Columbia University's MFA program in fiction. After I completed the MFA program I did every writing-related job I could get my hands on--from freelance writing for magazines and websites to writing resumes for job hunters--while getting married and starting a family and continuing to write fiction whenever possible.
I'm thrilled that HarperCollins will publish my first novel, How to Eat a Cupcake, in March 2012. So far, the book has also been sold to publishers in Germany (Heyne), Italy (Garzanti), and Poland (Proszynski). I'm now living in San Francisco, enjoying spending time with my husband and our two young daughters, and working on my second novel. www.megdonohue.com
On August 12, 2011 she wrote - I'm an alum of the COLT program ('00) my first novel will be published by HarperCollins this spring and I'd love to get the word out. :)
Gregory Lamontagne, ’07 (wrote on May 19, 2011)
After graduating in 2007, I took a position in the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs in New York. I left Goldman after a year for a position in the Dubai office of Oliver Wyman, an American consultancy, and have stayed with the company for the last two and a half years, though I have since moved back to New York. While at Oliver Wyman, I have worked on projects in four industries across seven countries, and have worked on English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking case teams.
When I was interviewing for positions during my senior year, I firmly believed (and still do) that my degree in Comparative Literature was crucial to the success of my candidacy at various private sector companies. My background in the humanities made me distinctive from other, more quantitatively-focused candidates; allowed me to stress my analytical qualities; and demonstrated my ability to think critically in multiple languages. Now that I am in a position to screen and interview students applying for jobs with my company, I actively seek out candidates with a solid education in the humanities for the same reasons. I find that students with a background in creative, critical thought and a willingness to extract useful information from a diversity of perspectives make the best consultants, and in my (perhaps biased) opinion, there was no better program at Dartmouth than Comparative Literature in which to hone these skills. Comparative Literature is a field in which students must become familiar with broad, sometimes contradictory schools of theory; seek out complicated texts in foreign languages; and parse through an incredible volume of information to develop theses that must not only communicate a unique, unified, and creative perspective, but which must also typically situate themselves solidly within an accepted theoretical framework. The ability to do this is invaluable in consulting, and throughout the broader business world, and I use the skills I developed in the COLT program every day.
On March 15, 2011 Jennifer Gill, '01 wrote
I chose comparative literature because the courses were the most interesting and Comparative Literature seems to attract the best professors from a variety of disciplines. At the time, it seemed like the best of both worlds and I knew that I could figure out how to make sense of it all from a career perspective later. Ten years later, I found myself at INSEAD, one of the top European business schools. To get into INSEAD, you need to speak three languages and have worked abroad. Without Comp Lit, the Rassias method, and the inspiration of Graziella Parati, I never would have managed working in Italy, and certainly would have never made it to INSEAD. Now I am the Business Manager to the Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone. My boss has an annual budget in the billions and 22,000 people across 28 countries reporting up to him, and I am responsible for coordinating all his activities, event and deliverables. His motto is 'hire in your weakness' so as the CTO, so he chose to me to be his right hand 'man', with a strong background in writing, culture and, well, being organized. In this capacity, I write his speeches, board papers, and deliverables to our executive committee, with the support of all the brilliant engineers and technologists at Vodafone. It is a privileged position, and I have a fly on the wall view of how the world's biggest TelCo functions at its highest layer. At the moment that I chose my major, I never could have charted a path that brought me to where I am today, but I knew that by following the courses and professors who stretched my imagination the farthest, I would find a career that went beyond the ordinary.
In July 2008 she wrote - "The ability to develop new frameworks that allow me to present meaningful analysis for a wide range of business problems has helped me enormously as a consultant and is a direct result of my Comparative Literature background."
I am starting an MBA program in France at INSEAD, an international business school. INSEAD requires that all its students graduate with three languages. While business school may seem like an unlikely destination for a Comparative Literature major, the language requirement at INSEAD appealed to me because I know that it values a student body with a deep appreciation for language and culture. I have tried many different professions on for size since graduating from Dartmouth: English teaching, Human Resources, Tourism, and finally, IT consulting. Much to my surprise, I felt the most at home and challenged as an IT consultant with IBM. I really enjoy translating difficult IT concepts to my clients, and then explaining my client's requirements to our development team.
Brook Cosby, '00 (wrote on February 10, 2011)
I was Marianne Hirsch & Irene Kacandes' student, graduating in 2000. I continue to be grateful that I majored in Comparative Literature! I completed an MA in English at UC Santa Barbara in 2003 and relied heavily on my critical theory and close reading background as both graduate student and teaching assistant. I then moved to New York and worked as an editor at Routledge. All the while, I developed a great interest in yoga and Buddhist philosophy, as the ideas that my yoga teachers were citing from ancient Indian and Tibetan texts corresponded alarmingly well with what I had studied in Comp Lit at Dartmouth, namely that reality depends on the label you apply to it and desire is never free from lack. I have taught yoga classes since 2006 and am on faculty with the Conquering Lion Yoga teacher training program. My goal as a yoga teacher is much the same as it was as a Comp Lit student: to give voice to experience, heal from suffering and evolve towards happiness.
Oliver Bernstein, '03 (wrote on February 5, 2011)
My comparative literature major honed my language, writing and critical thinking skills and has served me well in my career. I focused on Spanish and Portuguese literature with environmental themes -- a passion of mine. These days I am Senior Communications Strategist for the Sierra Club, the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. I use my Spanish all the time, do plenty of writing of all types and spend significant time thinking about the effect of specific language and diction on our environmental conservation goals. The small classes and outstanding professors I had in the Comparative Literature program will always be one of my best memories of Dartmouth. I recommend the major to anyone who enjoys language, writing and thinking; it has served me very well.
My academic passion was always literature and languages. I sought out comparative literature classes at Dartmouth because they were small and had lively discussions and amazing professors. My extracurricular passion was always environmental protection and activism. At Dartmouth, I worked to make the campus more sustainable and to hold public officials accountable for their environmental actions. After graduating, I combined my two passions and spent a year studying air quality in Mexico City with support from Dartmouth. This phenomenal experience helped me get a job in Texas as the Sierra Club's U.S./Mexico border representative. After two years traveling the border region working with communities on environmental issues, I was named Sierra Club's National Deputy Press Secretary for Diversity Programs. Now I help generate more media coverage for environmental and justice issues across the country, especially among ethnic media. With the support of the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, I am helping to educate voters, families, and reporters about global warming and environmental justice.
Looking back, every job and internship I have had so far came from my ability to speak a foreign language and my ability to write. Most importantly, I developed these valuable career skills while enjoying myself and staying true to my passions.
Alexander Fidel, ’09 (wrote on February 4, 2011)
After graduating I lit out for Europe. I think the comp lit major gave me a kind of confidence about how much culture I could absorb and about what a unique experience that is. I wanted to go to a city that had a rich history in the past century, and it fell to Berlin in the end. During my three month term in the city, I got to prepare the gallery for international art fairs and work with artists in studio. The community in the industry was fascinating, and because of my comp lit background, the conceptual art that I dealt with was accessible and enjoyable. At work and at home, Berlin was rewarding. After work, I crossed the city looking at other galleries. When Berlin exploded with art about the Berlin Wall for the twentieth anniversary of its fall, I took my roommates to see what I knew about. We talked more personally about history and the life of a city during those weeks than I had with anyone. At the end of that month, I made them all their first Thanksgiving dinner.
I might have stayed in Berlin had I not traveled to Paris for the last art fair. Living beyond France's border and tied to it by blood, I always cherished a romanticized vision if it. A study abroad term in Paris my junior year of college hedged back many idealizations, but I attribute a strong core of Fracophilia to coursework in French thought and my thesis on French 20th century fiction. I found the city beautiful and the lifestyle more seductive than I remembered.
I left Berlin to work and live in a Paris artist’s studio in the 2009-2010 winter. It lacked a lot in the way of comfort but the resident company was excellent: an actor, a ballet dancer, two writers, two students at the Louvre, and the artist-owner’s painting assistant. We did life drawing with the artist a few times a week, saw every free museum show, play, and concert we could dig up and broke them all down after with what we knew of the arts in the French tradition...I applied doggedly for a position at the International Herald Tribune, first in administration, but with the ultimate goal of writing. If I hadn't had the experience of the thesis behind me, I doubt I would have had the confidence to pitch any kind of article. As it turned out, one of my stories was accepted, and two years out of school, I got to be published in a large circulation newspaper. That is an excellent feeling, and I owe it in large part to excellent comp lit professors who I remember not just for instruction, but encouragement, in school and after.
Alexander Fidel has an article published in the NY Times.
Catharine Morgan, '06 (wrote on February 3, 2011)
I am a big fan of Dartmouth's Comp Lit program. My first year after graduating from Dartmouth, I lived in Munich, Germany and worked as a teaching intern at an international school. I've spent the last three years working for a small public relations agency in San Francisco and Boston helping clients in the clean technology and information technology industries. I'm currently wrapping up there and preparing to move to Ukraine to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer. In any career, it's paramount that a person be able to think critically, examine a problem from different angles, connect seemingly unrelated ideas, and write well. Majoring in comparative literature helped me develop precisely those skills. Please share my gratitude with all the professors who helped me along the way: Professors Kacandes, Martín, Parati, Kopper, Gemünden, Mladek, and Aguado.
Liz Cullen, '99 (wrote on February 1, 2011) -"When people ask me about my major I say that comparative literature study prepares you for nothing…and everything."
I did hone concrete skills as a comparative literature major, focusing on Spanish and Russian. Those skills include research and writing to develop strong arguments, analytical thought, and communicating in two or more languages. The greatest gift that comparative literature gave me, however, was the knowledge and acceptance that not only are there many different opinions, values and cultures, but there are also many truths that inform them. When many of my colleagues were looking for jobs after college, I was looking for a purpose. My comp lit studies gave me the confidence to take a low paying job in environmental activism where I could get my hands dirty. I have worked for non-profit organizations and have felt gratified and rewarded by my career choice since that time. Despite the fear that some have about the word “non-profit,” I have also been able to support myself financially throughout my career and have not spent any time unemployed. Graduates my age experienced the tech bubble burst, 9/11, and the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, and while I did not experience the six figure highs of the economy for the past 10 years, I also now have one of the more stable careers among my friends and fellow alums. For the past nine years I have worked for an organization that creates access to business opportunities for women business owners in New York and Washington, DC. In a few weeks I will take a position at another organization, WEConnect International (www.weconnectinternational.org), that will provide a certification for women business owners globally so they can access corporate and government supply chains. It is a dream job for me and it is a dream I might not have had if comparative literature hadn’t given me the freedom and confidence to have it.
Silvia Ferreira, ’09 (wrote on January 31, 2011)
I'm currently pursuing my PhD in Comparative Literature at UC Santa Barbara. It was Dartmouth's program that first sparked my interest in the field, and provided me with the resources and support necessary to pursue it further. The Comparative Literature program at Dartmouth provided me with the flexibility to create my own project and to think outside of the box. My graduate studies have benefitted greatly from the solid base that I developed there. Stay warm! I miss you all very much but definitely not the Hanover winter.
Ji-Young Yoon, ’05 (wrote on January 31, 2011)
After Dartmouth I obtained a masters degree in creative arts therapy at NYU and worked as a child therapist at a domestic violence agency. Currently, I'm a Temple University Fellow in Philadelphia working towards a school psychology PhD. I'm pleased to say that everything I studied as a COLT major on language, postcolonial theory, ethnic identities in migration, canonical/marginal texts, psychoanalytic theory, etc. etc. directly informs my psychological and educational work with youth, and especially minority youth.
Andrew Leong, ’03 (wrote on January 31, 2011)
After graduating from Dartmouth in 2003, I entered the Ph. D. program in comparative literature at UC Berkeley. Majoring in comparative literature under wonderful mentors (Lawrence Kritzman, Laurence Davies, Amy Hollywood, Irene Kacandes, John Kopper) gave me a firm foundation to pursue graduate study. The rigorous linguistic training promoted by the comparative literature program lent me the confidence necessary to learn three new languages - Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese - and also prepared me for several years of study, research and travel in East Asia and Latin America. My translation of two novels originally published in the 1920s by Japanese immigrant writer Nagahara Shoson will be released in Spring 2011 through Kaya Press as a single volume, Lament in the Night. I am currently finishing my dissertation, The Stillness of the Migrant: Japanese American Vernaculars in Print (1890-1938).
James Redfield, '06 (wrote on January 31, 2011) - the COLT major was a means to acquire fluency in two European languages, to conduct research in France, Germany, North Africa and the Middle East, and to form lasting friendships in all of those places. His phenomenal advisor Veronika Fuechtner and the program's rigorous classes with challenging peers helped to sharpen his writing and presentation skills. These skills, in turn, led to three postgraduate research fellowships and several publications, including a chapter of his B.A. thesis.
James is now a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at UC Berkeley and a Graduate Research Fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he is helping to start a new Center for Biological Futures. He is married to Terra Edwards, a linguistic anthropologist, and they are expecting their first child in July.
Aaron J. Schlosser, ’07 (wrote on January 30, 2011)
It was through the comparative literature program that Dartmouth earned for me its reputation as one of the best undergraduate colleges in the world and as home to the country's most superb teacher-scholars. The amount of personal, one-to-one contact with professors that I was afforded, both inside and outside the classroom, was and still is unparalleled. I felt for the first time that my professors viewed me not as a mere student but as a young scholar, as a participant in the grand tradition of the humanities. Soon ideas of law school appeared as distant memories. Through the comparative literature program, I discovered that my true passion lies in the study of literature.
In this regard, the department prepared me well for the future. It gave me everything that I required, including its excellent honors program, in order to become a strong candidate for graduate school in the humanities. Since leaving Dartmouth in 2007, I have been pursuing a Ph.D. in French literature at Yale University. Every day, what I learned at Dartmouth helps me build the foundation of my career in academia.
Emily Brunner, ’01 (wrote on January 29, 2011)
I graduated in 2001. I spent two years working as a grant writer at an educational and leadership development not-for-profit called Prep for Prep. Thereafter I went to law school and am currently practicing as a tax and estate planning lawyer in New York; I use the writing skills developed at Dartmouth every day. I've also continued to travel when I can and in recent years have gotten back to Italy as well as to Macchu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, Japan and China.
Alex Lambrow, ’10 (wrote on January 29, 2011)
I am a 2010 graduate of the COLT program at Dartmouth, and received a Fulbright grant to spend the 2010-11 academic year teaching English and studying in Germany. I am currently living in Dresden, where I work in a secondary school and pursue courses in history and literature at the local Technische Universität. In the following years, I plan to return to the United States, to earn a Ph.D. in German Studies. Without the preparation afforded me by the COLT program at Dartmouth, I would very much be lost in Germany this year. I depend on the German language skills I acquired at Dartmouth everyday to teach and study, and the ability to think critically (sometimes with the help of a healthy dose of theory) and to write clearly have made me a significantly better teacher, student - and according to my job description as a Fulbrighter - "ambassador to the world."
Marisa Taney, '09, (wrote on March 10, 2010 while in Argentina)
I love it here, wish I could stay forever, am working really hard but having a great experience. Coming back to the states in June to go to Law School. I got into Harvard, Duke, and NYU so I'll be at one of those places!
On April 28, 2010, Marisa let us know she has decided to go to Harvard Law. Good luck, Marisa!
"Dispatches from Kazakhstan"
by Kirby Liu, '09 (wrote on September 13, 2009)
I am in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the next year and a half for a Fulbright grant. I just arrived last week and am still adjusting to the lifestyle here. It gets really cold here (much colder than Hanover) so I am having my mother send me my winter coat.
I hope all is well in Hanover and that you have a great group of kids to work with. I really miss Dartmouth!
Oana Castu, '07, (wrote on July 21, 2009) I am currently working in finance in NY. I am an 3rd Year Analyst in the Credit Risk Management and Advisory Group at Goldman Sachs.
Michael Jennings, '72, (wrote in August of 2008) has taught at Princeton since 1981; his teaching and research focus on European culture in the twentieth century. In addition to literature, he teaches on topics in cultural theory and the visual arts, with special emphasis on photography.
In August 2008, Jonathan Mullins, '04, wrote -"While I work in an area studies department which concentrates on a single nation and its cultural production, my undergraduate training in comparative literature continues to inform my approach."
I guess I've taken the traditional course of a comparative literature major: going to graduate school. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Italian Studies at NYU. My primary interests are fascist culture and post-1968 Italian culture and philosophy.
Laura Roche, '04
I graduated in 2004 with a degree in Comparative Literature, with French and Economics as my comparative disciplines. I was originally an Economics major and French minor, but I decided to change to Comp Lit my junior year. The personalized attention, close community of the majoring class, and ability to do senior thesis research were all highly appealing. My choice of major gelled my interests in such a way that I really consider it to be the defining feature of my Dartmouth education. I chose to write my senior thesis on the Senegalese film director Ousmane Sembene. My senior winter I was chosen for Richter and Dickey Center Grants to travel to Dakar, Senegal to attend a CODESRIA conference on Economic issues relating to a modern day Africa. My undergraduate exposure to foreign cultures and my senior thesis research in Africa were largely instrumental in guiding my future career aspirations. I will be starting at the London Business School this August to pursue a MBA (Class of 2010), and I was awarded a Dartmouth Reynolds Grant as well as a London Business School Annual Fund Scholarship towards this study. Prior to LBS, I was working as a Global Marketing Communications Manager for a brand design consultancy. I plan to leverage the international degree to work in business abroad.
Nancy Kricorian, '82 (wrote in July of 2008), is a writer and political activist. She has published two novels (ZABELLE and DREAMS OF BREAD AND FIRE) and is at work on her third. She is a member of the national staff and New York City coordinator for CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepinkalert.org). At Dartmouth, Nancy majored in Comparative Literature (French and Women's Studies) and did a Senior Fellowship in Creative Writing (Poetry). She has an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University's Writing Division.
In July 2008, Cecily Garber, '03, wrote -"My more general experience as a comp lit at Dartmouth major has been invaluable in preparing me for academic work; writing the thesis was an especial boon. Looking back, I am amazed by the amount and degree of personalized attention I received there. I am sure it has given me a leg up in later studies, particularly in a place like London, where so much of the coursework is "hands off."
In London I completed a Masters in "National and International Literatures in English," meaning more or less postcolonial literature, which was the focus of my major at Dartmouth. While I enjoyed the year of coursework, I decided I wanted to turn to British modernism for my thesis, which is the focus I'm currently pursuing at Illinois. While I've sadly not been able to keep up the foreign language skills central to my BA, I am glad that I pursued them while I could as an undergraduate.
In July 2008, Georgia Reid, '97 wrote- "My Comp. Lit major opened doors and interests which only a major as complex and personal as this one can do."
I majored in '97 in Comparative Literature 19th-20th Century French Literature and Art History. My advisor was Kate Conley in the French Department. After graduation I participated at a conference in Cerisy, Normandy. An incredible experience where I had the opportunity of meeting great French theorists of Art History and Literature. It was organized and directed by my Advisor Prof. Conley. In Sept. 97 I started working at Leo Burnett in advertising in Chicago. While in Chicago I not only worked in a very creative environment where I could do a lot of writing and researching, but I was also a volunteer for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and became a licensed tour guide for the Robie House, a house built at a time in history that I had loved studying about during my time at Dartmouth. I then got my masters degree at the London School of Economics where I focused on Social Policy, Planning and Participation in Developing Countries.
My honors thesis was on the rise of the female work force and the free trade zones in Latin America and the Caribbean. Here again I got to use my background in feminist theories which I had used at Dartmouth in both art history and literature courses, which culminated in my Comparative Literature Thesis. I now applied these learnings to a very real situation of women and employment.
Seven years ago I returned to my home country, Dominican Republic.
I work in the family business—in our architecture and interior design firm.
My art history background, literature and writing skills have proved invaluable in our firm's culture and the way we present our knowledge not only of design, but also of our Caribbean culture and way of life. I am back home after years of living in many places. My Comp. Lit major opened doors and interests which only a major as complex and personal as this one can do. I am married with two beautiful children, and from their very young age I have started to teach them about the arts, and what a fulfilling and unique world their study can provide.
In July 2008, Erin Murphy, '95 wrote -
I'm an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley School of Law. I absolutely used my Comp Lit degree — mostly to prepare me in ways I did not anticipate for law school. Comp Lit is of course all about understanding and studying texts, and about searching for meaning and defending an interpretation — exactly like law. The fact that I learned how to study text, and pay close attention to various modes of interpretation (literal words, contextual history, political meanings, etc.) well positioned me for law school success, because that is EXACTLY the project of legal interpretation.
Polly Geller, '90 - "The comparative literature degree was extremely beneficial to me as i still use interdisciplinary means of communication."
I have been a graduate at Otis College of Art & Design since 2007. This fall is my last semester before I embark on my thesis. I am majoring in Writing, emphasis on Poetry. I was recently published in The Strip, a literary journal which publishes MFA work from around the US. And last month, had my first collaborative poetry reading at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. I am cofounder of 3+3, a poetry organization which seeks to bridge young poets with established poets. Prior to embarking on my love affair with poetics, I was an on-camera and voice-over actor. I make a living working with my hands and "pushing skin" as a massage therapist (a calling which, pardon the pun always comes in handy and has been a grounding force in my life). The comparative literature degree was extremely beneficial to me as i still use interdisciplinary means of communication (i love taking digital pictures; and am a recorded jazz vocalist) in all i create. Words and language are my life and soon with my MFA degree, I hope to be able to teach anywhere in the world — if the world will have me...
In July 2008, Carmine Iannoccone, '83, wrote - "I guess all these twists and turns have made for a pretty heterogeneous career, moving across several different fields and operating from several different positions. Although that has come at the expense of a certain kind of professional advancement, the spirit of comparative study — of playing one thing off another, of learning through the search for similarities within diversity -has been the driving energy, and it found its first expression in the Comp Lit department at Dartmouth."
I took the drama part of my senior thesis very seriously, and went on to study performance at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. This led to a minor acting career in which I hopscotched from London to New York and eventually to Los Angeles where I currently reside — although I no longer act. In retrospect, I would say that acting was a way of transitioning from the kind of critical study of art that I did as an undergrad, to the active production of art that I wanted to do as a career. Once I had made that leap, I felt emboldened to proceed to the kind of art I was really drawn to producing, which was not literary, but object-oriented.
I enrolled in an M.F.A. program at the Otis College of Art and Design, and embarked on my current path of work as a sculptor. I have attached some images from my two most recent exhibitions — "Re-Public Works" and "Useable Histories" — and anyone who is interested will find an archive of past work and reviews at my gallery's website: solwayjonesgallery.com. This may seem like a far cry from the literary concerns of Comparative Literature, but it isn't. My critical skills simply switched from the life of literature to the life of objects. Upon receiving my M.F.A., I spent many years writing for a variety of art journals and newspapers (most notably the magazine Art issues, where my reviews of contemporary art appeared in the same copies of the journal that launched the career of Dave Hickey, who is probably one of the most influential art critics writing today). I also began to teach at this point, and the courses I have designed for visual artists all build directly upon the kind of critical theory I studied at Dartmouth. I'm currently developing a seminar at Claremont Graduate University called "A Field Guide to Contemporary Fantasy" in which we will compare themes in contemporary fiction to analogous trends in visual art. I also teach an overview of visual art theory to undergrads at the University of Southern California, Roski School of the Arts
Justine Casell, '81 - "I use my Comp. Lit degree every day. In fact, just yesterday I was telling a colleague how the close study of texts taught me a disciplined approach to data — to stick close to what is in the text."
I finished my Comp. Lit degree at Dartmouth after taking 2 years off in the middle of college to get a License de Lettes Modernes at the Université de Besançon, in France. My honors thesis in Comp. Lit, under the direction of Lynn Higgins, was about Beckett's bilingualism. Even though I am now the Director of the Center for Technology and Social Behavior at Northwestern University, and a professor in the departments of Communication Studies, Computer Science, Education, and Linguistics. My college studies of narrative have greatly influenced the research I do today on building computers that can tell stories, and respond to people's life stories. In fact, I was one of the early researchers in this new field of Computer Science, known as "narrative intelligence". In addition, Comp. Lit was my first opportunity to do interdisciplinary research, and that love of the interstices between fields, of the discovery of how to applying the methods of one field to the problems of another, came from my Comp. Lit degree.
Finally, it was in Comp. Lit that I met my first intellectuals — Peter Bien, Lynn Higgins, and Marianne Hirsch — they seemed always to be engaged in intellectual debate, and to be willing to open that debate to me. I hope I am half the professor that any of them was.
There are lots of photos on my work web page: http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/justine/index.htm and my research group's web page: http://articulab.northwestern.edu/. And, if you want to laugh, you can look at the video of me giving an acceptance speech for the Women of Vision leadership award, where I mention being a bad girl in college: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4vZRLwbm5Q&feature=related.
In July 2008, Tom Grey, '79, wrote - "'I've often had occasion to think back fondly on my variegated comp. lit. major at Dartmouth (German, music, some French and Italian, assorted poetry and drama) — which distinctly paved the route to later career developments."
I went on to a PhD program in music history at University of California Berkeley (1980-87) and have been teaching in music depts. (UCLA, Stanford) since 1988. Here at Stanford — I have been involved with various interdisciplinary humanities programs, serving on English, German, History thesis and exam committees in addition to music; and aside form the music history and theory courses I do in the dept. I have often been teaching seminars on (e.g.) music and mythology, music in German lit. and philosophy, Shakespeare and music, etc. all of which continue the music and literature thread I had started to spin back in Dartmouth days.
In July 2008, Peter Wilson '77, wrote - "I loved my Comp Lit major."
I worked with Peter Bien on a thesis on Joyce and Mann — a terrific professor whom I still correspond with.
In July 2008, Tish O'Connor, '76, wrote - "For me, comparative literature was a direct springboard to a career that I have found intellectually stimulating."
I was torn between majoring in literature and art history, but found the faculty in English, Drama, French, and Comp Lit very engaging. The preponderance of art books on Braziller's list allowed me to develop editorial skills and combine my two academic interests for the first time in my professional life. In 1984, I launched my own book production business, in partnership with my now-husband, graphic designer Dana Levy. For the past quarter-century we have edited, designed and produced illustrated books (http://www.perpetuapress.com/).
Timothy Cole, '73 - "For me it was a life choice, not a career choice. I chose Comp Lit because it allowed me to delve into all the Big Questions; because it was explicitly multi-lingual and multi-cultural; because I could include anthropology, political philosophy, psychology, and religion courses in my program; because it was the edgiest of the humanities at the time. All those interests remain as intensely alive as they were then, though more have come along — art history, architecture, urban planning, economics."
Now there's a question. 35 years down the road, as certain as ever Comp Lit was the right major for me; yet I'm clueless how to respond in a way helpful to a 19-year-old picking a major. I feel about Comp Lit the way I feel about Dartmouth — not for everybody, but if the fit is right it is a wonderful path to choose. I sometimes regret things I did not study at Dartmouth — mostly in the sciences and social sciences — but never doubt that I'd pick Comp Lit again if I were doing it all over again.
In July 2008, Ted Baehr, '69 , wrote - "Education comes of course from the Latin “to lead out of darkness” into the light of the truth, which is exactly what the original Comparative Literature Department did."
In the 1960’s, inspired by Professor Scott Craig and Professor John Rassias, I signed on for a relatively new honors major entitled Comparative Literature, with the purpose of concentrating on contemporary French, German and American poetry. Besides the opportunity of studying at Cambridge University, University of Munich and the University of Bordeaux and Toulouse in Pau, I had a wonderful opportunity at Dartmouth to study the notion of genre and to devise a three-dimensional system of genre classification that was commended by the Educational Testing Service.
This training in Comparative Literature has informed most of what I have done in my life, including financing feature films, heading up the TV Center at CUNY, Chairing of the Institute for the Study of Media at the "Center for the Arts, Religion and Education” of the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California at Berkeley, and, and most of all, publishing MOVIEGUIDE® Magazine, http://www.movieguide.org, where the depth and breadth of the knowledge of Comparative Literature has been a great blessing when combined with the serious study of the theology of aesthetics. Therefore, I would like to thank everyone in Comparative Literature, especially the small group of originators whose clarity and vision helped educate all of us in a more profound way.
Last Updated: 2/8/13