Comparative literature, as a relatively new field of study, has the ultimate aim to appreciate all the effects of that great artistic phenomenon called literature. Since the mid 19th century, when both literature in its modern sense and comparative literary studies were born, our discipline has nourished the tendency to analytically examine literary works based on comparison. Although comparison as a method can in no way be limited with its literary function, as it is apparent from the fact that almost all scientific disciplines, from mathematics and natural sciences to humanities, have put it into use according to their own purposes and priorities, its intuitive value has best been established in literature. Analogies, free associations and allusions are literary strategies, which both create new means of comparison and explore unique landscapes of thinking. In a sense, comparative literature is an invitation to understand this most literary of the tools, and reflects it back to itself so that people can see its tremendous effects in an ever-new light.
One outcome of such attitude has been to claim that comparative literature might be the rightful place where comparison could be taken to a whole new level, and might work as a common ground to study the mutual relationships of all of the seven arts. Gradually, it has not only become an interartistic endeavor, but also turned into an interdisciplinary field where all existing media might be taken into account. Therefore, comparative literature is not just interested in the interactions of two or more literary traditions, although being exposed to as many different languages and literary cultures as possible is an essential condition of the discipline. Comparative literary studies concern itself also with the exchange of ideas and intuitions between literature and plastic arts, music, cinema, philosophy, etc.
Our department at Mersin University was established in 2014 to create a dynamic milieu for the study of all these interactions through theoretical and practical engagements, thereby rekindling the comparative spirit created by the unexpected encounter of the German exiles, such as Leo Spitzer and Erich Auerbach, in the early 1930’s, with the Turkish intelligentsia. We believe that our country, revered as the birthplace of the modern comparative literary studies, should create a common ground, harboring that comparative and cooperative spirit, this time in total peace and genuine mutual understanding. We would like our department, like all the other departments of comparative literature in Turkey, to work for achieving such an objective.
The department, which currently consists of three faculty members, aims to launch its master’s program in the academic year of 2018-2019 after completing the preliminary preparations.