Global Literary Studies

UW cherry blossomsA dynamic collaboration of multiple UW departments housed in the Slavic Department, Global Literary Studies (GLITS) is an innovative major that introduces students to fascinating works of literature from around the world and from all eras of human history. From myths and legends to contemporary song lyrics, from sagas and epics to single-line proverbs and riddles, from novels read in solitude to plays and orally transmitted stories performed with dance and music, GLITS puts students in touch with the boundless creativity and lasting impact of the world's literary works.

Drawing on the expertise of faculty from across the Humanities Division, GLITS offers students a rich array of courses that reveal the importance and lasting impact of various forms of imaginative writing and speech. A sample list includes classes on Classical Mythology and the Ancient Novel, Asian War Epics, Scandinavian mythology, or Japanese Classical Literature; classes on genres such as fairy tale or crime fiction, the novel or lyric poetry; specific courses on authors such as Dante or individual works such as the 10th-century Persian epic Shahnameh or Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote; classes on 20th-century Surrealism and the Avant-Garde, Chinese literature and culture of the modern era, contemporary Chicano fiction and autobiography, or Arctic literature; as well as courses on literature and film or literature and science. Through these and many other courses, GLITS offers its students the unique opportunity to study some of the most compelling works of literature from around the globe, while developing the ability to read and write, reflect and discuss.

Literature shapes the ways in which human beings understand themselves, their relations to each other as well as to their natural environment-the ways we perceive, feel, think, and dream about human concerns. Though they may tell us about their own space and time, literary works remain effective because they cross the spatial and temporal boundaries, inspiring and enriching our conceptual, emotional, and expressive potential. The "soft" skills developed by the study of literature will be increasingly in demand in the 21st-century marketplace. These include the ability to communicate, listen, and express oneself verbally, the capacity to engage with different points of view and ways of life-as well as to use storytelling and humor in one's everyday relations. The fruits of literature studies will stay with our students wherever they go and will deeply aid both their professional success and their personal fulfillment.

Many GLITS classes in 2023-24 and 2024-25 are withered with Comparative Literature classes (C LIT prefix) and a great majority of them count towards the requirements for the Comparative Literature major and minor.



Housed in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, GLITS classes are taught by literature and language faculty from all over the Humanities Division. GLITS is managed by its Steering Committee and advised by a large Advisory Board.

GLITS Steering Committee

  • Headshot of Gordana Crnkovic
    Professor and Chair, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media Studies

    GLITS Founding Member
  • Headshot of Donald Gilbert-Santamaria
    Associate Professor and Chair, Spanish and Portuguese Studies
  • Headshot of Chris Hamm
    Professor of Asian Languages and Literature
  • Headshot of Gary Handwerk
    Professor of English and Comparative Literature; Director, UW Program on the Environment

    GLITS Founding Member
  • Headshot of Lauren Poyer
    Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Scandinavian Studies
  • Headshot of Naomi Sokoloff
    Professor and Chair, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

    GLITS Founding Member
  • Headshot of Brian Reed
    Divisional Dean of Humanities; Milliman Endowed Chair in the Humanities

    (serving ex oficio)

GLITS Advisory Board