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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

M.A. in Comparative Literature

M.A. Program in Comparative Literature

Under normal circumstances a student may complete an M.A. in Comparative Literature in four semesters (excluding summer). Although every student's program is planned on an individual basis, certain requirements must be met. The Master's Program consists of four elements:

M.A. Foreign Language Requirement

M.A. Comprehensive Examination

M.A. Course Requirements


1. M.A. Foreign Language Requirement

Candidates for the M.A. degree must take graduate-level literature courses in one foreign language and study at least two national literatures. Student must demonstrate advanced knowledge of one foreign language. Students who do not have the M.A. in their first literature will be expected to demonstrate oral proficiency in the language (if modern) of that literature by the beginning of the second semester. Students who are unable to do so will draw up a program of remediation with the Graduate Director (which may be facilitated by one of the many intensive language programs on campus).

2. M.A. Comprehensive Examination

Degree Requirements

The written portion of the MA comprehensive is identical to the Ph.D. qualifying exam. This will be a three hour exam in two equal parts: an essay on literary theory and an explication of a passage in the student's first foreign literature.Part one of the exam consists of four questions, each set by the faculty member who taught CPLT 701, 702, and 703 respectively, for a total of three questions.  The examinee selects only one of these questions and writes a 1.5 hour response. Part Two of the exam is an analysis of a literary text in the language of the student's first foreign literature. The text should be short - either a poem or an extract of a prose piece. The question posed may be general or more specific, but should in any case be directed towards establishing the student's ability to understand the language, rather than applying sophisticated theoretical models to the analysis. The analysis may be written in English. This exam will normally be taken after the third semester. Retakes must be attempted the same semester. Only one retake is permitted. For a terminal M.A., the student must also take an oral exam based on issues obtaining from the written exam and the MA thesis. The faculty committee for the oral consists of the student's MA thesis advisor, the graduate advisor, and one additional member from the written exam committee.

Exams are scheduled once a year and times are posted here.

3. M.A. Course Requirements

A. Comparative Literature

1. CPLT 701 Classics of Western Literary Theory
2. CPLT 702 Modern Literary Theory
3. CPLT 703 Topics in Contemporary Literary Theory

B. First Literature 4 graduate courses C. Second Literature

2 graduate courses

D. FORL 776 Basic theoretical principles of foreign language teaching in college is a requirement of all graduate teaching assistants. Those who are not graduate assistants may take it as an elective or choose another 700-level seminar.

Thesis Requirements
Thesis Requirements University rules require that the student complete a minimum of eight graduate courses (24 credits) and a thesis (6 credits). The candidate will normally register for 6 thesis credits in their final Spring semester, but should begin forming the thesis committee already during the preceding Fall semester. The committee consists of a director and a second reader.

The M.A. thesis is an essay of approximately 50-80 pages that makes a defensible contribution to scholarship on a figure, text, movement, or problem in your area of concentration. The MA thesis in Comparative Literature should be comparative and should ideally include works from two areas or national literatures. Your thesis director will supervise your CPLT 799 (thesis) hours, and your essay will be read by one other faculty member in your area. Communicate regularly with your committee, so that they are aware of your progress, and consult with them about a realistic schedule for turning in sections of your work. Please consult the Graduate Catalogue for general graduate school rules (especially residency and time limitations) for the completion of the degree.

The Graduate School has a variety of templates for theses and dissertations.

Make sure that you are aware of the various filing requirements and deadlines well in advance, so you can graduate on schedule.