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Comparative Literature

Administrative Unit:Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Ph.D. Minor

Faculty: Professors Layoun (chair), Adler (also German); Associate Professors Livanos, Statkiewicz; Associate Faculty Associate Grunewald. Affiliate Faculty: Casid (Art History), De Ferrari (Spanish and Portuguese), DuBois (Scandinavian Studies), Goodkin (French and Italian), Guyer (English), Kern (East Asian Languages and Literature), Livorni (French and Italian), Longinovic (Slavic Languages and Literature), Rosenmeyer (Classics), International Affiliate/Visiting Professor Ramalho de Sousa Santos (University of Coimbra, Portugal). See also Faculty on the department website.


Graduate study in the Department of Comparative Literature emphasizes the active theorizing of the comparative, the literary, and the cultural in a global context. Comparative literature investigates literatures and cultures within, across, and beyond national and linguistic boundaries. The comparative and pluri-lingual nature of comparative literature at UW–Madison enables the careful and informed study of new and evolving theories and literary and cultural methodologies as well as of prior, present, and emerging literary and cultural practices and phenomena.

Students study problems in theory and criticism, culture, genre, mode, periodization, literary movements, and translation. They engage problems and questions concerning the interaction of "high" and "low" literatures; of literature with other arts or other disciplines; and the relationships between literature and economic, sociopolitical, and other historical structures and issues, including ideological and value formations.

Graduate study leads to the M.A. and the Ph.D. degrees in comparative literature.

The department also offers a minor in comparative literature to interested Ph.D. candidates in other degree programs.

Ph.D. Minor 

The department offers a Ph.D. minor to graduate students of other departments and programs interested in pursuing the workings of comparative methodology in a global context and in broadening the critical and conceptual framework for their study of literatures, cultures, and texts.

The minor requires a minimum of 12 credits of course work in comparative literarture courses, which must include at least one seminar (at the 800 or 900 level) and Comp Lit 702 (Problems in Comparative Studies). Three credits may be taken at the 400 level, with the consent of the director of graduate studies.

At the beginning of study in the program, all Ph.D. minors should contact the director of graduate studies concerning course work for the minor. Completion of the minor will be certified by either the director of graduate studies or the department chair.


Applicants to the graduate program in the comparative literature should submit to the department a statement of purpose for graduate study, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a writing sample (in English) of no more than 15 pages, a list of foreign language and literature course work, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. (International applicants should consult the department and the Graduate School website for information and additional application requirements regarding TOEFL, MELAB or IELTS tests.)

Admission to graduate study in comparative literature requires advanced foreign language work at the literary level in at least one language other than English; the student's academic record should demonstrate the ability to work critically in at least two literatures (one of which may be English).

All entering students are admitted into the M.A. program. Students are accepted into the Ph.D. program upon successful completion of the Second-Year Examination.

For more information: Department of Comparative Literature, 934 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1525; 608-262-3059; fax 608-262-9723; bollant@lss.wisc.edu; complit.lss.wisc.edu/?q=node/10.