University of Chicago
Division of the Humanities
Combining an apprenticeship in rigorous, traditional scholarship with exposure to the most advanced work in literary and cultural theory, the program in comparative literature at Chicago prepares students to compete successfully for academic careers in both national literature departments and programs that stress comparative or interdisciplinary study. All students take a two-quarter sequence in their M.A. year that provides a solid grounding in literary criticism and theory and poses some of the central challenges facing literary scholars today. Students design the remainder of their program to serve their own interests, either studying several national literatures (with primary emphasis on one) or exploring the relationship between literature and another discipline or art. Working closely not only with the faculty in comparative literature but also with other professors from the department of the University that best complements their interests, students develop individualized research topics that may range from the sociology of paraliterature to the hermeneutics of divination, from crime fiction in English and Chinese to comparisons between Sanskrit and Greek epic.
The University of Chicago is famous for the vibrancy and intensity of its interdisciplinary studies, and Comparative Literature students routinely work with faculty throughout the University. The University is also renowned for treating its graduate students as co-participants in the humanistic enterprise. Through a unique system of some forty interdisciplinary workshops offered annually, students and faculty together focus on topics of current interest, invite speakers from outside the university and share their own work in progress. Recent workshops of particular interest to students of comparative literature have dealt with poetics, American and European avant-gardes, empire, Renaissance literary studies after the New Historicism, rethinking East Asia, the history of the human sciences, ancient and modern rhetoric and poetics, and psychoanalysis.
Since 1913, the University of Chicago has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
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