Comparative Literature, PhD

The Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature covers the study of narrative, poetry, representation and cultural history.  The Program enables students to engage rigorously with critical theory.  We draw our faculty from many disciplines: the languages and literary histories of Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia: history, art history, religion; anthropology; folklore; political science; Africana studies; Jewish studies; Gender and Sexuality studies; sociology; communications.

We provide a structured and challenging program in which graduate students can combine the careful study of a particular literary tradition with interests in other languages and disciplinary approaches. The broad interests that our students bring to their projects include the history of philosophy, film and media studies, technology and the history of science, and area studies. Students work in varied historical periods, from antiquity and the Middle Ages to the postmodern, and in diverse language fields.

Comparative Literature at Penn has a dynamic intellectual community.  Our signature event is our public colloquium series, Theorizing, which is organized primarily by the graduate students.  Our students and faculty are active participants in the many interdisciplinary lecture and seminar series at Penn, including the Medieval-Renaissance Seminar, the History of Material Texts Seminar, the Wolf Humanities Center, the Latitudes Seminar, and several student reading groups.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

Sample Plan of Study

The total course units required for graduation is 20.

Year 1
Fall
History of Literary Theory
Select three other courses
Spring
M.A. Exam Prep
Select three other courses
MA Examination
Designation of major and minor traditions of concentration
Summer
Reading for the Qualifying Exam
Year 2
Fall
Teaching requirement
Independent Reading and Research
Select two other courses
Spring
Teaching requirement
Independent Reading and Research
Select two other courses
Qualifying Examination
Pre-Dissertation Bibliography
Summer
Pre-Dissertation Bibliography
Year 3
Fall
Teaching requirement
Independent Reading and Research
Select two other courses
Pre-Dissertation Bibliography
Spring
Teaching requirement
Independent Reading and Research
Select two other courses
Dissertation Prospectus
Years 4 and Beyond
Dissertation Research, Writing, and Defense

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2018 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.