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Doctoral Study

Every student in Comparative Literature is unique, and our doctoral program emphasizes robust and personalized advising to put you in dialogue with our faculty at each stage of your graduate career—from your coursework to your exams, dissertation and eventual employment. Our program provides a common foundation in theory, history, translation and media, and connects you to faculty with specializations in everything from critical theory, ecocriticism and psychoanalysis to queer theory, visual culture and postcolonial studies. Whether you work in Spanish, French, Chinese, Hindi, German, Swedish, Korean or any other language, Comparative Literature serves as your passport to conversations across the humanities.
As a department, we are committed to working closely and individually with each of our students, and our multi-year advising structure is in place to guide you through coursework and to prepare you for an academic career. Once admitted, you already begin to tailor your program of study to your research interest and to your mastery of at least two national literary traditions. Four foundation courses taken during the first and second year help to establish a cohort among our students and a common critical reflexivity. And as you go on to pursue courses in national languages and literatures, we remain in conversation to help you generate connections between your three fields.

First Year Conversation
At the end of your first year, every doctoral student meets with a committee of three Comparative Literature faculty members to discuss your plan for the years ahead. This first year conversation focuses on your proposed fields and languages, and allows us collectively to brainstorm connections with faculty across the university.

Second Year Statement
At the end of the second year, you work in consultation with your primary advisor to craft a statement that articulates and relates your three fields to a common question in your research. The statement is meant to provide an opportunity for you to situate your research and vision as a comparatist, and is submitted to the Graduate Committee in Comparative Literature.

Third Year Article
We take mentoring in academic publications seriously, and a designated faculty member works with you during your second and third year on each stage of the writing process. There are workshops to assist you in translating a seminar paper into an article, finding an appropriate venue for publication, writing a cover letter for the submission, and even dealing with requested revisions. This process culiminates during the fall term of your third year when you send an article out for peer review.

Qualifying Year
The fourth year is what we call the qualifying year and is comprised of the qualifying exams and the prospectus defense. During the fall term, you write your qualifying exams in your three designated fields in consultation with faculty mentors. The winter and spring term are designated for the drafting of the dissertation prospectus, and the formal prospectus meeting takes place during the spring term of the fourth year. Once the dissertation is approved, you formally advance to candidacy to work on the dissertation.

For the writing of the dissertation, each student produces a draft of a chapter each quarter of your fifth year. There are workshops held in the department to help connect you with other students also writing their dissertations.

Job Market Workshops
Our commitment to our doctoral students does not end with the dissertation, and we provide a set of workshops geared for to prepare you to apply for postdoctoral fellowships and academic jobs. These workshops focus on grant proposals, cover letters and job applications, as well as practical timelines for submitting materials, filing the dissertation and pursuing your academic career.