Department of Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature aims to understand and interpret the characteristics, meanings and social conditions of literary phenomena by utilising both theoretical and historical approaches. The Department of Comparative Literature offers a broad perspective on different cultures and provides students with the tools for analysing contemporary cultural phenomena in a critical and insightful manner.

In Finland, Comparative Literature is available as an independent, full-length major at the University of Turku and the University of Helsinki. The Department of Comparative Literature encompasses the entirety of world literature, but in practice it focuses on Western literatures in the widest sense of the term. Comparative Literature stresses the connections between literatures written in different languages as well as their relations to other cultural areas, such as history, philosophy, the arts and other social phenomena. Often our research materials and theoretical perspectives transcend the boundaries of cultural traditions.

Through theoretical thinking, historical understanding and textual analysis, Comparative Literature explores the functions of literature and the forms of historical, cultural and social experiences to which literature gives expression. Comparative Literature helps develop the skills one needs to analyse different types of texts in a rigorous and critical manner. It provides a multifaceted understanding of the history of world literature and different theoretical approaches.

The research profile of the Department of Comparative Literature is wide-ranging both in terms of its theoretical scope and its geographic and temporal reach. Our research topics range from the seventeenth century to the present and from European to North American, Caribbean and Latin American literature. What our theoretical approaches have in common is that they emphasise contextuality: we see literature as part of society and culture, as an expression of the historically conditioned human mode of being in the world, which it can also problematise and critically engage with.

The Department of Comparative Literature educates experts of literature and culture who are capable of critical analysis and possess a broad understanding of culture. Literary studies provides an excellent basis for working in a broad range of different fields related to culture, education and research. Here are some examples of the prospective jobs for students of Comparative Literature:

  • teaching Finnish language and literature
  • jobs in cultural organisations, administration and projects
  • cultural producer
  • journalists and other jobs in the media
  • editors and other jobs in publishing
  • jobs related to cultural wellbeing
  • research
  • independent writers and translators
  • cultural education and development

Our permanent staff includes two professors, a senior lecturer, a university teacher and a student services secretary. In addition, our department includes postdoctoral researchers and collegium researchers who work in the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS), as well as doctoral students and other researchers who are recipients of personal grants or work in research projects.