Program in Comparative Literature

First Four Semesters

Overview

Students in the Program in their first four semesters will be heavily involved in choosing and organizing their areas of study. During this time, students will identify what will be considered their world languages and literatures and begin fulfilling required coursework, and they should also begin to specify their fields of study (e.g., European Romanticism, post-colonial literature, literature and film).

Students will also enroll in a series of Comparative Literature signature courses designed to introduce them to a wide variety of area, literary criticism, and theoretical concepts in preparation for their Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, which takes place at the beginning of their fourth semester in the Program.

In preparation for the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, the Graduate Adviser will also suggest names of possible Area Advisers, who share the particular academic interests of the students. Students are responsible for selecting an Area Adviser and meeting with the Adviser once per semester, and the two should provide the Graduate Adviser with written notes from the meeting so that the Graduate Adviser can track the student's academic progress.


Course Requirements

Students will use their first four semesters in the Program to begin fulfilling the required coursework in their chosen world languages and research areas. Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in three world languages (see Language Requirements below) and three research areas. The research areas must be in a single world language, but they do not have to correspond exactly to the world languages used to satisfy the language requirements. Students may also use their third research area to study in a field outside of a world language: for example, art history, film, folklore, philosophy, psychology.

In addition to fulfilling their language and research area coursework during their first four semesters, students are also required to enroll in a series of three courses aimed to provide students with a wide breadth of fields of study, literary criticism, and theoretical knowledge in preparation for their Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. The courses are as follows:

  • C L 180K Intro to Comparative Literature - taken in students' first semester
  • C L 385 Foundation of Literary Theory and Criticism - taken in students' second semester
  • C L 390 Contemporary Literary Theory - taken in students' third semester

Students may track their progress with coursework using the CL Worksheet for Coursework and Requirements.


Language Requirements

Students in the Program must demonstrate appropriate command of world languages in their first four semesters. Upon entering the Program, students must possess a high level of competence in at least one world (non-dominant) language, and once in the Program, they must demonstrate competencies in two additional world languages as their studies progress. Students should use their first four semesters in the Program to satisfy their language requirements to the best of their abilities.

 

First World Language

Students must demonstrate command of a first world language by the end of their first semester in the Program. They may do so by:

  • Entering with an M.A. or equivalent in that language
  • Passing a graduate literature course in that language with a grade of "B" or better - Graduate Adviser approval required
  • When neither of the above options is available, passing a language examination administered by a Comparative Literature faculty member appointed by the Graduate Adviser

If command of the first world language is not demonstrated by the end of the student's first semester, the Comparative Literature Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) may not approve enrollment for the second semester.

 

Second World Language

Students must demonstrate command of a second world language by the end of their fifth semester. They may do so by:

  • Passing a graduate literature course in that language with a grade of "B" or better - Graduate Adviser approval required
    • Note that if the course is not taught in the world language, the course instructor must write a letter to the Graduate Adviser attesting to the student's ability to read in the world language.
  • Earning a grade of "B" or better in an upper-division undergraduate course in the literature of that language and/or taught in that language
  • Passing language translation examination of a 400-500 word passage in the world language - Graduate Adviser approval required

The Graduate Adviser may make exceptions to this schedule in certain cases based upon the nature of the languages involved. If an exception is made, students may demonstrate proficiency in a second world language by passing an examination consisting of translation of literary and scholarly passages by the end of either their fourth or sixth semesters, depending on the students' entering with either an M.A. or a B.A.

 

Third World Language

Students must demonstrate command of a third world language before taking their Comprehensive Oral Examination, which often occurs at the end of students' fourth or sixth semesters. They may do so by:

  • Passing with a grade of "B" or better in an upper-division course in the literature of that language and taught in that language
  • Passing a language translation examination of a 400-500 word passage in that world language

Students may track their progress with language requirements using the CL Worksheet for Coursework and Requirements.


Milestones

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination is the biggest milestone in students' first four semesters in the Program. The examination is a written examination taken at the beginning of the spring semester of the student's second full academic year in the Program, following the completion of CL 180K, CL 385, and CL 390. Note that students may not take the Qualifying Examination if they have "Incomplete" grades for coursework. Failure to take the examination on time (or if the Graduate Adviser has not approved a delay for substantial reasons) may constitute grounds for dismissal from the Program.

During the spring and fall semesters of the student's first and second years (respectively) in the Program, the student and the Area Adviser will compose a draft of the student's reading list for the explication part of the Qualifying Examination. This list should include 20 to 30 works at the core of the student's first world literature, from one of which the Qualifying Examination Committee will select a passage for the examination.

The examination has two parts, each lasting two hours. The first part involves a question of literary theory based on the work done in the two required Comparative Literature theory courses (CL 385 and CL 390). The second part requires the student to explicate a poem, a prose extract, or an episode from a play from the student's first world literature. Both portions of the examination are designed to test the student's knowledge of literature and literary theory as well as analytical and synthesizing abilities in order to determine whether the student will succeed in the Program and, in particular, will be able to pass the Comprehensive Oral Examination and then write a doctoral dissertation based on original research. Both portions of the examination are intended to be predictive not only of the student's success in the Program, but later on in the profession as well.

Students preparing for their Ph.D. Qualifying Examination may view the following QE Overview and Checklist and the QE Procedure documents to assist them.

 

Students may also use the Comparative Literature Milestones Sheet to track their progress in the Program.