Comparative Literature

Graduate Degrees: Ph.D.

Apply for Admission: December 2, 2019

Required Tests: GRE (general test)


Our graduate program is recognized as one of the top Comparative Literature programs in the country. The Comparative Literature department is a vibrant place for the research and study of literatures and cultures in an interdisciplinary framework, from transnational and cross-cultural perspectives. Our faculty and graduate students develop new historical and theoretical frameworks and rethink those we have inherited to open new perspectives on social and cultural forms and relationships.

Comparative Literature provides students with tools for analyzing texts, writing, editing, translating, and thinking across disciplinary and national boundaries. Our graduates engage a variety of literary traditions and historical periods, from Latin American concrete poetry to Yiddish experimental fiction to the discourses of political and race theory. The department offers rigorous training in the following areas, which are particular strengths of our internationally recognized faculty: French, German, Italian, Hebrew Studies, Classics, Critical Theory, East Asian Literatures and Arts, Performance Studies, Film and Media, Poetry and Poetics, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Postcolonial Theory, English and American Literatures, Early Modern and Renaissance Studies, and Slavic Literatures and Cultures.

All members of the department are deeply invested in the academic development of our students and value you as an integral part of the Comparative Literature community at UC Berkeley. The department aims to develop your creative and intellectual interests and talents. Graduate students receive the opportunity to pursue rigorous research in a variety of fields according to your interests, engage in team-based projects, participate in discussions about political, aesthetic, and social issues, and develop a nuanced cross-cultural understanding of historical and social processes. Many graduate students present and publish scholarly writings in the most prestigious venues as well as producing translations, literary writings, or works of theater. All of our students work closely with cutting-edge scholars in their fields in small seminars, with extensive individualized work. We have an active graduate cohort. From the first year, graduate students have a significant say in the intellectual life of the department through the First Years’ Graduate Research Conference and the Comparative Literature Graduate Committee and editing the Berkeley Comparative Literature-based journal Qui Parle. Students participate in the designated emphasis programs on campus, including Critical Theory, Film and Media, Gender and Women’s Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and Jewish Studies, or the Program in Medieval Studies. Students have opportunities to design and team-teach courses on their topics of interest. Next year, we plan to build a media lab for our graduates. Our students form a well-integrated community, but have access to all of the resources of the entire Berkeley campus departments and faculty; in fact, our program requires that students take seminars in other departments for interdisciplinary training. We have one of the most successful placement records for our graduates of any program in the country, and of any Berkeley graduate program.  Our doctoral graduates are prominent comparative literature and national literature faculty across the country and the world.

“It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.”


Source: Berkeley Academic Guide

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