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Graduate Program

The Comparative Literature Department at Emory offers Ph.D. students a wide-ranging theoretical and interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares them to engage in research and teaching across traditional disciplinary boundaries and to interrogate the definition of the literary itself.
In doing so, we maintain a strong focus on the specificity of literary and linguistic forms and the crucial role that literariness and the 'literary' play in critical and experimental thinking in the humanities and beyond.
Comparative Literature at Emory brings the traditional aims of a Comparative Literature degree-the comparison of literatures across national boundaries-into constellation with the aims of other disciplinary formations such as Philosophy and Psychoanalysis.
We also recognize the significance of engaging "languages" more broadly defined, including, for instance, those virtual languages or symbolic systems that are central to developments in the sciences and technology.
The Department thus encourages theoretical reflection across linguistic and disciplinary boundaries, reflection that remains informed by vigilant attention to the intricacies and performative powers of language.
Throughout our research and teaching, literature serves as the radical point of departure for thinking the challenge and difficulties involved in any act of comparison.


Faculty members in the Department of Comparative Literature at Emory have achieved national and international recognition. Most hold joint appointments with other departments reflecting the Department's ongoing collaborations with other disciplines across Emory.
Distinguished faculty outside the department also teach in our Ph.D. program and graduate students will find a departmental structure that allows for close working relationships with other programs.

Areas of Theoretical Strength

The Department's particular areas of theoretical strength fall into five main interdisciplinary configurations and we encourage students to design their programs in one of these areas:
  1. Psychoanalysis, Trauma and Testimony
  2. Deconstruction and Philosophy
  3. Aesthetics, Politics, and Postcolonial Studies
  4. Literary Theory and Religious Discourse
  5. Media, Technology and Human/Posthuman Studies
These fields represent the scholarly expertise of the Comparative Literature faculty as well as the interdisciplinary emphasis of the University.

Student Work Expectations

Within an overarching structure of requirements, all students work with a committee to develop an individualized program that prepares them to conduct research having a comparatist or interdisciplinary dimension: for example, literary research in more than one linguistic tradition or theoretical investigations that cross between literature and other disciplines.
In addition, Emory graduate school also has a number of certificate programs so that students who wish to pursue in-depth training in a particular literary or disciplinary tradition outside of Comparative Literature may do so.
Certificates are also offered in Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies and there is the additional option of a Minor in Psychoanalytic Studies, which provides courses both through the University and through the Psychoanalytic Institute.
All of our Ph.D. students are given guidance and training in pedagogy and have several opportunities to design and teach their own courses.

The Ph.D. Program

Emory Ph.D.s in Comparative Literature are currently teaching in a wide variety of Universities and Colleges across the nation - in national language and literature departments (including English, Spanish, and French) as well as Interdisciplinary, Humanities and World Literature departments and programs (including Women's Studies and Religion).
We also have had Ph.D.s working in the non-profit sector and major museums. The range and accomplishments of our alumni reflect the creativity and excitement of Comparative Literature at Emory.