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About Us

Comparative Studies encourages critical reflection about culture across boundaries of discipline, nation, and language.  Comparative Studies scholars attend to the construction of knowledge and the dynamics of power and authority in a range of historical discourses and practices: social, religious, literary, aesthetic, technological, scientific, political, and material.

Faculty photo, taken at the 2022 Faculty Retreat
Comparative Studies Faculty - AU 2022 (not pictured: David Horn, Kwaku Korang, and Dorry Noyes)

We are a multi-disciplinary community of scholars who study how human societies organize themselves through the production of knowledge, discourses, and material practices.  Recognizing that all knowledge is situated, our scholarship and teaching attend to the disciplinary assumptions, cultural norms and values, and political relations that shape social existence around the globe and across history.  We investigate areas such as religion, science, visual culture, folklore, literature, sexuality, race, and ethnicity, but our foci and approaches lend themselves to the invention and creation of new objects and fields of interdisciplinary research. 

Our comparative methods interrogate the constructs that shape humanistic study, as we work to account for the historical, material complexities of social relations and human existence.  In this sense, "comparison" entails a self-reflective, critical analysis of our own social, cultural, historical and political contexts even as it heightens our sensitivity to the immediate specificities of the intellectual and material issues at hand.  Our work is informed by a commitment to social justice, and energized by critical questions about how justice is to be defined and how it can be realized.  We encourage and help our students to become effective global citizens, guided by an ethos of mutual respect and persistent questioning, and recognition of the value and pleasures of critical intellectual work.