Comparative Media and Culture

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 65.7 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 11, 2024
53 place StudyQA ranking:5199 Duration:5 years

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Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture (CSLC) is an exciting and innovative doctoral program. It was inaugurated by USC Dornsife College in 2011 and admitted its first entering class for the 2011-12 academic year. 

Behind the creation of CSLC was the idea that Ph.D. education in our fields (Comparative Literature, French and Francophone, and Spanish and Latin American Studies) ought to cultivate a common ground in addition to fostering specialized research.  We thus wanted to design a program that could remap the boundaries of these fields while carrying on the very best of their traditions and enlarging what each can bring to the study of its discipline.  The invention of CSLC marks our renewed and ongoing commitment to shaping the future of doctoral education in the humanities. 

There are several hallmarks of CSLC’s program: 

  • three distinct Tracks
  • a wholly new Track called Comparative Media and Culture, which allows you to study all kinds of media in a strongly grounded context of cultural and linguistic difference
  • a core curriculum shared by all three Tracks
  • two workshop courses to help you prepare for your teaching and research career: one on publishing and the other on applying for academic positions.

Degree Tracks

  • Track I: Comparative Media and Culture
  • Track II: Comparative Literature
  • Track III: National Literatures and Cultures 

Comparative Media and Culture

This track allows students to study varied media—visual, print, sound, digital—from a comparative perspective and to deepen their understanding of the specific cultural, historical, and linguistic contexts of different media works.  With advanced competence in at least one language other than English and in addition to CSLC courses, Track I students are able to take graduate courses in the foreign language departments (East Asian, French, Italian, Spanish, and so forth) as well as other appropriate departments such as Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts.

Core Curriculum

The following courses make up the core curriculum of the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program.  All introductory sequence courses noted below are required.  Ph.D. students are required to take one of the three advanced sequence courses noted below. 

Introductory sequence (all are required): 

  • CSLC 501 Introduction to Comparative Media Studies:  Ways of thinking about the differences and relations among different cultural media:  literature, film, video, manga/comics, “new media,” and so forth. 
  • CSLC 502 Introduction to Literary Theory:  Major developments in 20th-century literary criticism, with special attention to theoretical work of the past three decades.
  • CSLC 503 Introduction to Comparative Studies in Culture: Examines culture as an instrument of discursive practice that shapes social formations in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America.   

Advanced sequence (one is required): 

  • CSLC 601 Seminar in Comparative Media Studies: Intensive comparative study of visual and literary media.
  • CSLC 602 Seminar in Literary Theory:  Intensive study of a theoretical tradition or critical movement, or of an individual topic or thinker, in literary criticism or theory.
  • CSLC 603 Seminar in Comparative Studies in Culture: Intensive study of intellectual and cultural history, with focus on key literary and theoretical texts.

Professional Development Workshops

Toward the end of your program, you will also take two workshop courses (ungraded and for two credit units each) that will help prepare you for the profession of teaching and research:

  • CSLC 600 Professional Development I: Publication:  Preparation of book and article manuscripts for publication and placement in presses and journals; revising dissertations for publication; preparing papers for conferences. Students produce an article manuscript ready for submission to a journal.
  • CSLC 700 Professional Development II: Applying for Positions: Familiarizes students with the process of seeking an academic position, from assembling a dossier to interviews and on-campus visits.


  • A Bachelor’s degree awarded by a U.S. institution in a relevant discipline, or the equivalent degree from another accredited college or university
  • A minimum earned grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), or the equivalent, in undergraduate and any previous graduate course work
  • Score on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • Letters of recommendation from three recent instructors in relevant disciplines
  • For international applicants whose native language is not English, a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). 
  • A 500-word statement in which you describe clearly your interest in Comparative Media and Culture, your proposed field of concentration, the research you would like to undertake, and your level of competence in languages other than English.
  • A sample of your scholarly writing (15-25 pages) that treats a subject relevant to the field of Comparative Media and Culture. A paper submitted for a course is fine.


All offers of admission to CSLC include five years of full financial support. These support packages take several forms, which are described below. There is no separate application for any of them.

Dornsife-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellowship in the Humanities

This is the most common form of the five-year financial support package offered to admitted applicants. Three of these five years are fellowships. This means that students receive tuition remission for up to 12 units each semester (fall, spring and summer), medical and dental insurance, all fees, and a monthly stipend. In 2015-16, the stipend is $26,000 paid out over ten months. For the two non-fellowship years, students are assigned some teaching responsibilities, for example, as a teaching assistant in a large lecture class, an instructor in a basic language course or in the Writing Program. During these years, they receive essentially the same level of support as during their fellowship years: tuition remission, health insurance, fees, and stipend. 

Provost Fellowship in the Humanities

This highly competitive fellowship is awarded to a top-ranked applicant who has a record of excellence in scholarship and demonstrates outstanding academic promise. With the exception of the higher stipend ($30,000 in 2014-15), the other conditions of the award are the same as the Dornsife-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellowship: three fellowship years and two teaching years, full tuition remission, insurance, and fees.

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