Comparative literature is a specific academic field in which the literature of two different languages, cultures, or arts. Typically, people who study Comparative Literature possess a mastery of language outside of their own natural tongue. This enables the person to compare texts of the same category in each of the original languages with reliance on third-party translations.
The purpose of Comparative literature is to examine different cultures positions on similar ideas. For example, one could look at an American text regarding the Rights of women and compare it to Afghanistan, Iraq, or Sudan.
To complete this comparison, a Comparatist would tend to be fluent in both languages focused upon and have experience in cultural and and religious studies.
A few books which examines the idea of Comparative literature is The Princetion Sourcebook for Comparative Literature, Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction, and The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature.
As for three distinctly different segments of Comparative Literature are:
1. The French School: Looking for where an idea originated (lets say the idea of an apple representing original sin) and how it is used in other cultures over time periods.
2. The American School: This movement looked at the use of "universal truths" as accepted and used over vast time periods and many cultures.
3. Cross-Cultural: This movement refuses to look at any nations as all encompassing and simply looks at the globalization.