Comparative Literature

Overview

The Yale University Library has a long tradition of collecting materials in comparative literature, and Sterling Memorial Library's collection is among the most comprehensive in the United States. The main body of the comparative literature collection is housed in Sterling Memorial Library.

In recent decades, new research interests and courses of study have included the topics related to transnational phenomena as literary or cultural periods and trends (Renaissance, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, Postcolonialism); genres and modes of discourse (tragedy, the novel, the sonnet, the grotesque, stream of consciousness); and theoretical perspective exploring such topics as poetics, narratology, fictional worlds, literary semantics, representation, language and epistemology, interpretation of texts, and history of literary theory.

The library seeks to support research and teaching through targeted acquisitions, both of new materials and retrospectively.  In recent decades, this has resulted in particularly strong collections in specific topics such as: the theory, interpretation and criticism of literature; interactions of literature with adjacent fields like visual and material culture, linguistics, film, psychology, law, anthropology, and philosophy.  Current collecting for Sterling Memorial Library also includes literary sociology, aesthetics, general literature, folklore, reference works and bibliographies, anthologies, and works on humanism and scholarship.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

The comparative literature collections reflect the interests of the following departments and programs:

  • Department of Comparative Literature
  • Department of Linguistics
  • The Literature Major
  • Program in Medieval Studies
  • Program of Film and Media Studies
  • Program of Theater Studies
  • Program of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Renaissance Studies Program

Because comparative literature has cross-disciplinary implications, these collections also offer support for research and teaching in other Western European language and literature departments (e.g., English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, German) as well as area studies such as African Studies.

Formats collected

Books

  • Academic and trade press monographs are acquired in print or electronic formats.
  • Maps and textbooks are generally excluded unless requested by faculty.

Journals

  • Online-only subscriptions are preferred; print subscriptions are initiated or continued when an online edition is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Reference materials

  • Electronic reference materials, including indexing and abstracting databases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, are almost always preferred to their print counterparts. Print reference materials are acquired when an online version is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Audiovisual materials

  • DVDs are acquired very selectively, primarily in response to faculty demand.

Microforms

  • Yale Library has extensive microform holdings supporting comparative literature. However, due to the increasing conversion of microform collections to digital formats and the interlibrary loan availability of microform sets from the Center for Research Libraries, microform supporting comparative literature is now acquired on demand only.

Languages collected

English and Western European languages materials are collected extensively and other languages are collected selectively.

Chronological and geographical focus

Current materials are emphasized, with out of print materials purchased to replace damaged or lost copies of significant works, or in response to faculty or student requests.

In terms of time periods covered in the materials themselves, the collections run the gamut from medieval to contemporary. 

Materials published in North America (excluding Mexico) and Western Europe are collected extensively. All other geographic areas of the world are collected selectively.

Collaborations within Yale

  • The International Collections all acquire material in comparative literature published anywhere in the world pertaining to their respective regions.
  • Collaboration within HCRE (Humanities Collections and Research Education), especially on databases of wide interest to humanists, including historical newspapers, pamphlets, scholarly editions, and journals.
  • Occasional collaboration with the Music Library, Divinity Library, Center for British Art, or the Law Library in purchases of or subscriptions to databases of mutual interest.
  • Bass Library

Subject Librarian

Todd Gilman