Columbia University

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

History and Literature


630 West 169th Street

New York City, NY 10027

United States



Program Information

Degrees Offered:

M.A. in History and Literature

Format: Campus

Program Description:

The M.A. in History and Literature trains students in historical approaches to the study of literature and in the interpretation of texts for the study of history. It is taught at Reid Hall, Columbia's campus in Paris, along with the M.A. program for Global French Studies. As a Columbia degree taught in France, the M.A. in History and Literature offers an attractive and unusual combination of Ivy League and European academics. The curriculum is designed, administered, and for the most part taught by the Columbia faculty. It therefore reflects the intellectual values and standards of Columbia University. The program starts with the premise that literature and history owe their current forms to many past developments that both separated them and leave much common ground for interconnections. It introduces students to the main critical and theoretical debates at the intersection between history and literature, including the narrative qualities of historical writing, the linguistic turn in history, and the tension between history and theory within the literary field. An important part of the program is the consideration of literature itself as a field of moral, philosophical, sociological, and historical knowledge. Students develop a sophisticated awareness of theoretical and methodological issues. They also acquire the philological tools required for the interpretation of texts in print or manuscript form. Paris has exceptional collections of rare books and historical archives, housed at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Biblothèque mazarine, and the Archives nationales de France. The Institut mémoire de l'édition contemporaine, located in Normandy, is easily accessible from Paris. In addition, the national libraries and archives of France's neighboring countries are a few hours away by fast train. Students also have access to the courses and seminars of France's top two graduate schools in the humanities and social sciences: the Ecole normale supérieure and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales. Practical training in textual analysis includes hands-on sessions conducted at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Archives nationales de France. We expect many students to have an interest in French history and literature or in the French-speaking world beyond Europe. We also welcome students who wish to conduct comparative study and work on materials in other modern European languages, Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic. Courses are taught in English or French; written work is normally done in English. The program provides sound footing for applications to professional schools in law, international affairs, journalism, or medicine. Graduates may seek positions in the United States or Europe in the diplomatic service, business, finance and banking, journalism, publishing, editing and translating, art and cultural organizations, international NGOs, and academic administration. The degree is also a valuable credential for students seeking admission to a doctoral program in history or literature.



Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: Yes

International Financial Aid: Yes

Classification: Doctoral/Research University—Extensive

Locale: Large City

Size & Settings: 20,000-39,999

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