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Department of Comparative Literature continues to compare literature

Photo of interior of a library. Shows scattered chairs (blue and red) on a blue rug, with the wooden walls, bookshelves, and stained-glass windows in the background.
East Pyne Library
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

The following content is purely satirical and entirely fictional.

Deep in the bowels of East Pyne, students launch books down a third floor hallway and measure the distance they fly. One young man licks the pages of James Joyce’s “Dubliners” one by one and records the flavors in a thick leather journal. A group of students points a video camera outside at a fox approaching a row of books, anticipating which masterpiece of German Weimar Classicism the fox will prefer. 


It’s just another day in the Comparative Literature Department, where students are hard at work comparing hefty pieces of literature.  Founded in 1920 with a donation from eccentric billionaire John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Department of Comparative Literature’s mission is to “compare works of literature on the basis of size, weight, taste, flammability, and any other observable characteristic you can imagine.” 

Few students choose to major in the storied department, but many told The Daily PrintsAnything that they are in awe of the rigor of the department’s research.

For his junior paper, Hal Incandenza ’24 manually counted the 577,608 words in David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel “Infinite Jest,” concluding that it has 683.86 percent more words than Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s 2014 science fiction novel “Rebels: City of Indra.”

Livia Cosmo ’23 is currently writing her senior thesis comparing which book will dissolve first while fully submerged in room-temperature Mountain Dew Code Red: a paperback copy of Kevin Hart’s 2022 self-help book “This Is How We Do It,” or the Scheide Library’s 1455 Gutenberg Bible.

While often confused for one another, the Comparative Literature Department has a long rivalry with the English Department.  One source scoffed that the English Department “couldn’t find prose in a Francis Ponge poem,” which sources confirm is a sick burn if you are a Comparative Literature scholar. 

Sam McComb is a contributing Humor writer. His mugshot is posted next to the cash register of every Pottery Barn in the tri-state area.