Comparative Literature Program

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 46.8 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 46.8 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 15, 2025
101 place StudyQA ranking:2870 Duration:1 year

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Comparative Literature is an interdisciplinary program that promotes the comparative study of literatures in different languages as well as of the relationship between literature and other spheres of human activity. It embraces both close attention to language and broader inquiry into the relationship between literature and other disciplines and practices, such as the visual and performing arts, philosophy, history, the social sciences, religion, sciences and mathematics. The program is devoted to the comparative study of literatures across different time periods and beyond the geo-cultural boundaries of any one country or region. It also fosters critical scrutiny of both western and non-western traditions, and is responsive to the dynamics of canon formation and the shifting definitions of the non-canonical and marginal. The program provides students with ample opportunity to study literature and culture from a wide array of critical perspectives. Among these are rhetoric and poetics, translation and reception, film theory and media studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, theories of ethnic and national identities, gender and queer theory, and psychoanalysis. Comparative Literature majors are expected to develop competence in at least one language other than their native language, and to work with original texts in more than one language. Students devise and pursue a rigorous program of study tailored to their particular interests and intellectual strengths in close consultation with one or more faculty mentors.

The Master's degree includes nine courses:

  •  Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory
  •  Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory
  •  Tutorial, Intensive work with a faculty tutor on a comparative literature subject
  •  Workshop in Critical Writing
  • Graduate Seminar in research and methodology
  • 4 upper-level literature courses, distributed across language areas and approved by the graduate advisor

The Major Text Presentation

The major text presentation is prepared in conjunction with the Tutorial. Students present one literary or cultural text related to their tutorial topic. The main object is to illustrate the methods of analysis proposed for the M.A. Essay, including theoretical approaches, historical contexts, and comparative connections.

The M.A. Essay

In their third term on campus, students produce an article of professional standard with potential for publication based on the readings and theoretical explorations undertaken in the fall and winter terms. They work in close collaboration with their tutor, the Graduate Advisor, and the instructor.

Depending on the topic and the choice of target journal for the publication of the paper, its length will vary between 20-30 pages. Its format should correspond to the guidelines in the MLA Handbook. While the research and conceptualization should have been done in prior terms, a "Workshop in Critical Writing" assists the students throughout the writing process.

In the workshop, students learn to produce outlines, critical introductions, abstracts, and critical evaluations of the manuscripts of others. Students prepare a paper of publishable quality representing methodological training in comparative literary study.

Teaching and Research Development

Students are expected to work for at least two terms as a teaching or research assistant. Options include serving as: an “apprentice teacher” in a foreign language course (applicants attend training workshops and audition to be hired in the relevant department), a teaching assistant in a literature course, a research assistant working with an individual professor, and/or an intern in a relevant campus office (e.g. Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth Center for Teaching and Learning, Rauner Special Collections Library). All appointments depend on the availability of matches appropriate to students’ interests and prior experience.

  • A strong undergraduate record in a major in any humanities field
  • Fluent reading, writing, and speaking knowledge of one foreign language
  • Beginning training in a second foreign language
  • The successful completion of an independent writing project or honors thesis
  • A writing sample
  • Official transcript(s) of all college or graduate-level credits
  • Complete application (including three letters of recommendation and a language proficiency form for each language)
  • $40.00 application fee

The Program awards a limited number of fellowships, which include a full tuition waiver and nine-month stipend. As part of their fellowship, students work for for at least two terms as a teaching or research assistant. Appointments are facilitated by the Director of Graduate Studies, and may be available in humanities departments or in other relevant units (such as the Leslie Center for the Humanities, the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, or Rauner Special Collections Library).

Students not awarded fellowships also work for at least two terms; they are paid per term for assistantship or internship positions (usually around $800/term).

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