Difference Between Comparative Literature and English

Comparative literature vs English

Since both Comparative Literature and English can be considered as academic branches that usually go in a similar direction, it is worthwhile to know the difference between comparative literature and English. Comparative literature can be defined as the study of world literature which is beyond borders while English is limited to a number of nations, at least in a literary sense. When highlighting the main difference between the two academic branches, it can be stated that comparative literature transcends national and cultural boundaries while English is rather confined to a national boundary. This article attempts to clarify the difference between comparative literature and English while providing a basic understanding of the two terms.

What is Comparative Literature?

Comparative literature as mentioned above can be referred to, as an academic sphere where the literary works of different nations, cultures and genres are studied. At the beginning of this discipline, it was also limited to the literature of English, French and German. This situation has now changed where comparative literature ranges from literary works of Europe to Africa. In this sense, comparative literature is an ever expanding field of knowledge that pays attention to the literary works of the world throughout history. It engages in a process of comparison s not only between the literature of different countries, cultures and genres but it also attempts to compare literature with other academic branches such as social sciences, religion, history, philosophy, etc . making it an interdisciplinary field of study . For example, let us take a comparison with history. The comparatists would attempt to locate the piece of literature in history, explore the social context, the movements that took place, the impact it had on the contemporary literature and try to gain a deeper understanding of literature.

What is English Literature?

On the other hand, English is a bit different. When we say English , it could either refer to English language or else the English literature. If we pay attention to the language aspect of English, it is almost indispensable for the people of the modern world, where it has become more of a global language with an ever increasing number of English speakers who use it as their first language, second language or even English as a foreign language. However, when looking at the literature aspect, English literature unlike comparative literature is rather confined as it only explores the British and American literature in most occasions. The scope of English literature is rather limited. It is true that it explores all the eras of literary works from Shakespeare to Milton. It is not a very broad perspective as it explains only of the literature of a limited number of nations across history.

Difference between comparative literature and English

What is the difference between Comparative Literature and English?

Therefore, the main difference between comparative literature and English literature can be stated as follows.

  • Comparative literature goes beyond borders where it explores the literary works across nations, cultures and genres.
  • It then engages in a comparison not only between different literatures, but also between literature and other disciplines.
  • On the contrary, English is confined to a national boundary at least in its literary aspects where rather than providing a broad knowledge of world literature it explores a single source of literature across time.