Chair: Silke-Maria Weineck
Professors: Chambers (Emeritus), Halperin, Herwitz, Lambropoulos, Masuzawa, Tang, and Shammas
Associate Professors: Brown, Clej, Colás, Konuk, Merrill, Porter, and Tsoffar
Assistant Professors: Aleksic, Dufallo, Paloff, Rubin, and Seo
Doctor of Philosophy
In addition to the specific requirements listed below, see
the Doctoral Degrees section of the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies.
Doctor of Philosophy
Apply to the Program: The Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan is a markedly interdisciplinary program. The Department's faculty is diverse, multi-disciplinary, and multi-lingual, maintaining felicitous relations between the department and other university units, not only in the humanities and the social sciences but also in other schools, including the School of Music, Art and Design, and Architecture. Much of the department's recent success is attributed to the flexibility of the curriculum, which encourages strongly motivated students from a variety of cultural backgrounds, all highly skilled in their linguistic abilities, to draw upon the broad range of expertise of the Michigan faculty.
Admission: New students are offered admission into the Program beginning fall term only, and all applications must be complete and submitted online by December 31. A complete application file consists of:
- The application for admission.
- The statement of purpose. The statement should be about 500 words long and tell about the applicant's academic experience to date, his or her reasons for wanting to do graduate work in Comparative Literature at Michigan, and his or her eventual career expectations. This statement should include an indication of the fields to be studied, e.g., major field: French; minor field: Women's Studies.
- Personal Statement.
- Three letters of recommendation.
- One copy of transcript from each college attended. (Click on the following links for to obtain the instructions about submitting transcripts to Rackham: instructions for submitting transcripts and academic records/transcript submission form.
- Two writing samples (e.g. papers written for courses), one in English and one in another language.
- Official scores of the Graduate Record Exam (the General Test). Use these codes for electronic submission: School / Institution Code: 1839, Department / Program Code: 2902.
Most international students must demonstrate English proficiency by taking the TOEFL or the MELAB. Please consult the Rackham Application for Graduate Studies.
Foreign Language Requirement: Knowledge of three languages at the advanced level, one of which must be English.
Fellowships & Funding: All graduate students in the Department are on similar packages of financial support. First-year students are on fellowship and do not teach. Department Fellows receive a stipend and a designated amount in a tuition fellowship. In addition, Department Fellows may draw summer funding at least twice over the course of their study. Most students are on fellowship at some time during the writing of the dissertation.
Students will be considered for all Department fellowships. Students may also seek financial aid through any of the resources described under “Financial Assistance” on the Application for Graduate Studies.
The Department limits financial support for graduate students to ten terms (five years). Fellowships and study abroad programs awarded by independent organizations do not count toward the ten-term limit.
Comparative Literature does not offer a terminal Master's Degree Program. Students receive a Master of Arts degree as they pursue the Ph.D. They must have finished the following requirements:
Minimum Number of Credits Required: 30 credit hours.
Specific Course Requirements: A total minimum of 30 credit hours distributed over the following areas: (1) the major field; (2) the minor field; and (3) Comp. Lit. 600-601. A student normally completes the A.M. in 3-4 terms.
Specific Course Requirements: Coursework must include: Comp. Lit. 600-601; four Comp. Lit. Seminars; and 8 courses distributed according to two or three "fields," depending on the student's choice, and in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and other faculty mentors. A field might be defined as a traditional national literature, but it might as easily be defined in terms of a specific period, intellectual interest, generic issue, area study, or discipline. "Cultural studies," "women's studies," "literature and other disciplines," "romanticism," "postcolonial studies," "gay and lesbian theory," "the lyric," and "Russian" are a few of the ways a field might be defined. For example, a Ph.D. could have emphases in women's studies and cultural studies as well as in French literature of the nineteenth century. Doctoral students in Comparative Literature cannot use the 400-level courses listed below to fulfill program requirements
- 430. Studies in Fiction.
- 436. Studies in Drama.
- 490. Cultural Studies.
- 492. Literary Theory.
Language Requirements: Students establish expertise in two or more languages, but the minimum requirement is advanced proficiency in two languages in addition to the "language of instruction." Advanced proficiency, demonstrated through either teaching or advanced coursework, must be established by the end of the second year in order to fulfill candidacy requirements and to make satisfactory progress to examinations and the dissertation.
Directed Readings: Since the program encourages independence and flexibility, directed readings count in an unlimited number toward satisfying the requirements for the fields of study. Directed readings do not, however, fulfill the Comparative Literature seminar requirement. We encourage group-directed readings with faculty on shared topics.
Third-Term Review: In October of the third term, students meet with a three-person faculty committee to share their experiences in the Department to date, receive feedback on their coursework and skills, and plan next steps. Students are asked to provide the committee with a small sample of their work (one or two papers—but no more—from the first year of coursework). In addition they must include a brief statement (one page), outlining their interests and goals. The committee reviews transcripts and the course evaluations that instructors file on each student.
The review itself is a 30-minute conversation in which the committee gathers information about the student’s goals, assesses those goals, and provides guidance about the best steps to achieve them. The committee may also offer an assessment of the student’s adjustment to graduate school and give advice about combining scholarship and teaching. The primary goal of the review is to provide academic counseling to students and to broaden the acquaintance of faculty and students with each other. At the conclusion of the review process, the committee members write a letter, copied to the DGS, to each student, detailing their findings and advice. The review is not meant to replace either one-on-one mentoring or individual faculty evaluations.
Examinations: The program requires one preliminary Ph.D. examination and a long essay (Topics Paper) to consolidate the work done by students in pre-candidacy. Both the preliminary examination and the topics paper are in areas of the student's choice, in consultation with committee members and the graduate advisor. Both exams are designed to provide opportunities for the student to synthesize coursework, to acquire knowledge in areas that may not be studied in courses, and to formulate and possibly to begin writing the dissertation. The preliminary exam must be taken no later than the middle of September in the third year of study. The topics paper must be completed by the end of the winter term of the student's third year of graduate studies.
Prospectus and Dissertation Committee:
After the topics paper, we expect that a prospectus will be submitted during the fourth year of studyto a dissertation committee of four to five faculty members. Students devote the fourth and fifth years of study to dissertation research and completion of the thesis.
For information on the dissertation committee, final oral examination, and publication of dissertation, see the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies.