Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2021-2022 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture


Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture (CSLC) offers students the opportunity to study the literatures of many different national traditions from a variety of historical periods, and to do so in a uniquely interdisciplinary manner. Both its individual courses and major program of study exemplify the ideals of a liberal arts education, as well as Occidental College’s particular mission to prepare its students to engage as fully and as fruitfully as possible in a complex, interdependent, and pluralistic world.

The CSLC major is rooted in the students' understanding of the linguistic structures of at least one foreign language, as this offers an essential point of entry not only into the study of the literatures within that language, but helps provide an important perspective from which to appreciate the cultural and linguistic differences that comprise any literary tradition. As with any formal literary study, our students, both major and non-majors alike, can expect to become proficient in the appreciation and interpretation of a whole array of literary texts and genres, as well as the many emerging methods and theories that can be brought to bear upon them. Yet as no one literature exists in a vacuum, but is rather shaped by, and helps shape, the institutions, intellectual perspectives and lived experience of the culture in which it is located, we encourage our students to work with faculty mentors to develop a personalized program of study that would allow each student to engage with his or her chosen literature (or literatures) from a specific disciplinary point of view (for example: literature and music, literature and philosophy, literature and gender, literature and science, ancient and modern literature, the literature of different national traditions).

Students majoring in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture currently have the option of choosing an emphasis in German, Greek, Latin, Russian, Chinese or Japanese. Other languages offered at Occidental can also be used to fulfill the requirements of the major, but require the approval of CSLC and the other language department. Though it is by no means required, students are also invited to incorporate courses from the Studies Abroad program into the overall design of their major.

Major Requirements


A major requires a minimum of nine classes including the senior seminar. Students are required to take courses that reflect the interrelated aspects of the major:


Methodology Requirement

CSLC 200Literature, Culture, Self: Being in the Wor(l)d

4 units

CSLC 201Forms of Feeling, and a Feeling for Form: Literature and Its Lifeworlds

4 units

Foreign language

Students must select three 300-level courses in German, Greek, Latin, Russian, Chinese or Japanese. GRK 201, LATN 201, GERM 202, and RUSN 202 may also be used to fulfill this requirement.

Literary and Cultural Studies

Students must select two CSLC courses from the 100- or 200-level.

*This course is preferably chosen from outside the student’s major language concentration (courses outside the department allowed by approval)

Interdisciplinary Requirement

Students must complete two additional courses which reflect a thematic or comparative language-based concentration. The two interdisciplinary courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser.

Senior Seminar

Students must pass a language proficiency exam prior to the beginning of their senior year and enrollment in the senior seminar. Please consult the departmental website for current information about courses which satisfy requirements.

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students will satisfy the Second-Stage Writing Requirement by taking a 300-level language and literature course with a writing component, in which students will be required to submit a substantial (12-15 page) writing assignment that incorporates a translation of, and commentary on, primary texts in the literature of the target foreign language. Students will satisfy the Second Stage Writing Requirement by obtaining a grade of "C" or higher on this paper. Under normal circumstances, students should try to satisfy this requirement by the end of their Junior Year. In exceptional cases, students may obtain permission to fulfill the requirement in the Fall of Senior Year. Students who fail to obtain a grade of "C" on the paper submitted for the satisfaction of the Second Stage Writing Requirement will need to submit a satisfactory re-write to the instructor of the course and the department chair.)

Comprehensive Requirement

All students majoring in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture will be required in their senior year to complete a comprehensive project consisting of a senior thesis of a minimum of 25 pages and to present a 15-minute presentation based on the thesis to CSLC faculty and students.

In the fall of their senior year, each CSLC major will enroll in a 4-unit senior seminar and will be expected to produce a full-length draft of the comprehensive essay by the end of term. The student will have the winter break and the first month of spring term in his or her senior year to revise the long essay, and to compose a 15-minute presentation. Students graduating in the fall of senior year must complete a final draft of the paper and give a short presentation before fall comps grades are due.

The comprehensive essay must include extensive analysis of a foreign language text or texts. The thesis should demonstrate an awareness of its own methodologies, and a substantial knowledge of the critical traditions and contemporary understandings of the texts under consideration. CSLC students will additionally be expected to incorporate into their senior thesis the interdisciplinary perspectives gained in the two thematic-focus courses they have selected for their major. Additional requirements for comps may be required in each language emphasis, particularly if a student uses a language outside of the CSLC major in their comprehensive project.

College Honors

The Department of CSLC awards Honors to students who have demonstrated excellence in their departmental work. In the Spring semester, CSLC faculty review each Seniors’ record of work in the department and make their determinations based on achievement in coursework, sophistication of the comprehensive project, and contribution to the intellectual community of the department.

Minor Requirements

Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture:

A minor in CSLC consists of five courses: one course course in theory and methodology (either CSLC 200 or CSLC 201), and four additional CSLC courses (student who take both CSLC 200 and CSLC 201 need only complete three additional CSLC course). This minor exposes students to world literature and culture in translation.


A minor in German language consists of five courses (20 units) numbered GERM 202 and above. Three of the five courses must be completed as Occidental courses.


A minor in Russian language consists of five courses (20 units) numbered RUSN 202 and above. Three of the five courses must be completed as Occidental courses.

Classical Studies:

Please see the Classical Studies area of the catalog for information on minoring in Classical Studies.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. AP, IB or A-level examinations in areas related to CSLC other than languages will not substitute for an Occidental course, place students into advanced courses, or allow a wider opportunity for choice of electives in the Department. For languages within CSLC in which we offer 201 or 202, students who earn a score of 4 on an AP Language examination will earn four units of credit and be placed into 201 in that language while those who earn a score of 5 will earn four units of credit and be placed in to 202 in that language. The department does not place students based on IB or A-level examinations. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.


Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Courses