About Us

Why Choose Humanities and Comparative World Literature?

Since HUM/CWL is a broad discipline, students are able to follow a program that can be shaped by their own interests. Indeed, students enjoy a great advantage in being able to choose courses in all the national literature fields, Western as well as non-Western. They are thus able to acquire a broad perspective upon the fields they are interested in and gain a unique knowledge of the world. This cross-disciplinary knowledge is a great asset in today's complex and multicultural society. HUM/CWL enables students to develop their own perspective because of the richness of the program.

Why Study Humanities and Comparative World Literature at SF State?

  • Broad Discipline: HUM/CWL students are able to follow a program that can be shaped by their own interests.

  • Broad Perspective: HUM/CWL enables students to develop their own perspective because of the richness of the program.

  • Cross-Disciplinary Knowledge: a critical asset in today's complex and multicultural society.

American Studies

American Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American culture and society that draws upon courses from departments and programs in the humanities and social sciences.

The core curriculum includes courses in U.S. history, literary and cultural studies, geography and California studies, while electives, chosen on advisement, may be drawn from any department or program with courses that focus on the U.S. (including History, English, Music, Humanities, Political Science and Ethnic Studies). Majors who achieve a 3.0 or higher are encouraged to complete their program with an independent study (699) in which they write an interdisciplinary senior thesis.

American Studies majors are prepared for a number of different career paths that value interdisciplinary knowledge, critical and creative thinking and effective writing skills. Our majors have gone on to graduate school, law and business school, education, public policy, nonprofits and museum work. We are working to build an alumni network to help students navigate their next steps after graduation.

To become an American Studies major or minor, or to find out more about it, please email the American Studies coordinator, Cristina Ruotolo (ruotolo@sfsu.edu), to make an appointment.

Comparative and World Literature

Comparative and World Literature (CWL) is a way of studying world literature. It is a broad and rich discipline that tackles literature across national borders, time periods, languages and genres and crosses boundaries between literature and the other arts. 

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this field, comparatists acquire solid knowledge in several disciplines of the humanities as well as critical abilities. Defining Comparative World Literature can be a complex task due to the diversity of interests of the people engaged in this discipline. Here is a definition of Comparative Literature given by Roland Greene:

Comparative Literature is the laboratory or workshop of all literary studies, and through them, of the humanities. Comparative literature compares literature, not only as an accumulation of primary works but, as the languages, cultures, histories, traditions, theories, and practices with which those works come. - ("Their Generation", Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism)


Humanities undergraduate and graduate students develop methods of bringing the various humanities, such as literature, music, visual forms and architecture, into an integrative view of the world's cultural diversity. Our inquiry focuses on expressive forms, social conduct, values and artistic insights across human communities.

This goal is accomplished through a two-pronged approach:

  • a core curriculum that develops sound writing skills and introduces humanistic methods of critical analysis;
  • a series of required courses and electives on different world regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. These courses include biographies of cities across the globe, introductions to major world cultures and comparative and theoretical studies of culture.

Students who wish to base their careers on a broad knowledge of American and world cultures will find the Humanities B.A. major useful for positions in government, business, education and the arts. This program offers invaluable training for students who wish to pursue an M.A. or a Ph.D. in any Humanities discipline. Further practical training in a specific professional field (library work, overseas teaching or public service, journalism, museum work, etc.) may well be taken in conjunction with the major or the minor in Humanities. Students earning the B.A. in Humanities may also wish to pursue a TESOL certification or a single subject teaching credential in English or History through the Teaching Credential Program. The M.A. program serves a variety of personal and career objectives, including preparation for teaching, doctoral study, business, public service and the arts.