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2. About the Program

The PhD in Comparative Literature is a six-year doctoral program that emphasizes the international and interdisciplinary nature of Comparative Literature.  Our curriculum is designed to be as flexible as possible, allowing students to develop expertise in areas of traditional interest to comparatists and to learn about new developments. The program has strong language requirements but provides flexibility in the ways that students put their language and cultural proficiency to use. The program places strong emphasis on literary, critical and cultural theory but makes possible a variety of definitions of what theory is and how it is to be applied. 

2.1 Academic Advising

The DGS provides academic advising for all graduate students as they progress through the doctoral program in Comparative Literature. The DGS serves as the primary academic adviser for students in their first two years; in addition, the DGS assigns to each incoming student a faculty member in Comparative Literature who will be available for informal faculty mentoring during the first year.  Students should schedule appointments with the DGS and their faculty mentor at least once a term until they form their examination committees during the second semester of their second year.  From that point onward, the primary academic adviser for each student is the chair of his/her faculty committee, although the DGS will continue to be available as needed. 

2.2 Course requirements

The program requires fourteen courses, twelve of which are generally elected in years one and two. Six of the required courses are in Comparative Literature.  COMPLIT600 is a first-semester course that introduces students to a range of theoretical approaches to Comparative Literature, represented by different faculty members in the department.  Students entering the second year of the program will take a year-long course with the Director of Graduate Studies, registering for COMPLIT 601 (3 credits) in the fall term and COMPLIT 698 (1credit) in the winter term. They will meet in class approximately every other week during both terms to focus on pedagogy, training, responsible research and scholarly conduct (RCRS), and preparation for both the Third-Term Review and the Preliminary Examination. Of the fourteen required courses, four must be Comparative Literature Seminars; the remaining eight courses can be taken in any department and are distributed according to a major field and one or two minor fields to be designated by the student in consultation with the DGS and the faculty mentors.  A field might be defined as a traditional national literature, but it might be as easily defined in terms of a specific period, intellectual interest, generic issue, area study, or discipline.  The number of fields and their relative weight in the individual program of study are likewise to be defined by the student in consultation with the DGS and faculty mentor, with the student’s training in the field(s) shaped through coursework and preparation for the Preliminary Examination.  The recommended course load for each term in the first year is three (3) graduate seminars and a language course (optional).  Students must make every effort to monitor their own degree progress, both course requirements and exam/dissertation requirements (see appendix), with the DGS on an academic-term basis.  This is especially important when incorporating graduate certificates in the program of study. Modifications to the program of study must be documented in writing, approved in advance by the DGS, and kept on file with the SSvC. Failure to do so may impede a student’s academic progress.

2.3 Language Requirements

Students establish advanced proficiency in at least two languages in addition to English, as well as expertise in their related history and literature. Advanced proficiency in the languages must be established by the end of the second year in order to fulfill candidacy requirements, while development of expertise in their related literature and history is ongoing.  (See FAQs)

2.4 Examination, Topics Paper, and Advancing to Candidacy

The program requires an oral examination (Preliminary Examination) to establish candidacy and a long essay (Topics Paper) to synthesize the work done by students in pre-candidacy.  Both the Preliminary Examination and the Topics Paper are in areas determined by the individual student in consultation with the faculty advisor, committee members, and the DGS. Both the Preliminary Examination and the Topics Paper are designed to provide opportunities for the student to integrate course work, to acquire knowledge in areas not covered by seminars, and to begin formulating a direction for dissertation research.  The Preliminary Examination must be taken in the third year of study, no later than early September, before the Rackham candidacy deadline.  The Topics Paper must be completed by the end of the student’s third year of graduate study. This timetable allows the student to write the Topics Paper over the course of the third year of study, though earlier submission is encouraged.

Rackham advances students to candidacy status after successful completion of the Preliminary Examination. Candidates progress to ABD (All But Dissertation) status after successful submission and defense of the Topics Paper and the Dissertation Prospectus.

The department strongly discourages remote participation in the exam, defense, and milestone meetings.  This will be approved only under extraordinary circumstances and requires advance written approval of the entire relevant committee, DGS, and Department Chair.  

2.5 Prospectus and Dissertation Committee

After completion of the Topics Paper, students must submit a dissertation prospectus at the beginning of the fourth year of graduate study. The prospectus should be defended to the full committee no later than December 15th. Students devote the fourth and fifth years of the graduate program to dissertation research and begin to draft their thesis, with the goal of defending their dissertation during the sixth year. 

2.6 Study and Research Abroad

Students in Comparative Literature often pursue study abroad for greater linguistic and cultural immersion in their areas of interest and for dissertation research.  The doctoral program is structured to give students in good academic standing flexibility to spend one or two terms studying abroad after achieving candidacy and completing coursework.  The Prospectus Defense should occur prior to conducting funded research abroad, as independent research (i.e., beyond the parameters of a formal academic or language program) is best conducted with a focused research agenda. Students are also encouraged to apply for funding to pursue summer research/language training in the US or abroad, especially during the summer after their first and second years.  See Section 6: Graduate Funding.  

2.7 Certificate Programs

Students may choose to add a Graduate Certificate to their doctoral program. In most instances, only one course may be applied to both the certificate program and as an elective in the graduate program of study. While our doctoral program offers flexibility for students to take additional courses as needed in their third year or beyond, the Department does not normally pay supplemental tuition or fees, if any, associated with the completion of certificate programs.  The University of Michigan offers a wide range of certificates (e.g. in African Studies; African American and Diaspora Studies; Asian Studies, German Studies, Judaic Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Latina/o Studies; LGBTQ Studies; Medieval and Early Modern Studies; Museum Studies; Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; Screen Arts and Cultures; UM Graduate Teacher Certificate; Women’s Studies). The graduate certificate in Critical Translation Studies offered by Comparative Literature is open for applications; for more information see section 3.10.  For information about other certificate programs see Rackham’s website

2.8 Progress Reports

Pre-candidacy progress reports.  All faculty who teach Comparative Literature students during their first and second year of the program are asked to submit a pre-candidacy progress report at the end of the course.  The faculty member fills out a form to evaluate the student’s oral communication skills, written communication skills, classroom skills, preparation, and progress in the course.  Though faculty members are encouraged to share a copy of this form with the student, they are not obligated to do so. The forms are used internally by the DGS for pre-candidacy review. Students may request feedback from the DGS on reports that have been received. Students also receive a written report from the DGS summarizing the findings of their Third Term Review.  

Candidacy reports.  Students in the third year of the doctoral program receive a written report from their committees on both the Preliminary Examination (required to achieve candidacy at the beginning of the third year) and the Topics Paper (at the end of the third year).

Post-candidacy progress reports.  Students in their fourth year and beyond are required to meet at least once a year with their committee (no later than March 15).  To prepare for this meeting the student meets in person with his or her committee chair (no later than October 15) to develop a plan outlining goals for the year and timeline for completing them. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that both meetings are scheduled and occur prior to the deadline. The student will receive a copy of the report.  

2.9 Year-by-Year Summary

Year One: Your first year will be centered on coursework and will be free of teaching; this is an opportunity to broaden the base of your knowledge, explore new fields and ideas, take courses in several departments, identify possible faculty mentors, and work on your languages to achieve advanced proficiency.  It is important to meet with the DGS at the beginning of each semester, and more often if needed.  You should choose a variety of courses, periods, and approaches, and develop your skills in participating in seminars. Usually we do not advise doing a directed reading in your first year, except under special circumstances and only after consultation with the DGS.               

 

YEAR 1:              

Fall Term

Winter Term

Spring/Summer Term

 

1.  CL 600

1.  CL Seminar

Language work

 

2.  CL Seminar/Elective

2.  Elective

 

 

3.  Elective

3.  Elective

 

 

4.  [Language course]

4.  [Language course]

 

 

Fellowship

Fellowship

                                              

As illustrated above, students normally elect three graduate-level seminars per term in addition to a language course.  Please note that while some language courses are offered at the graduate level, they are not the equivalent of a graduate seminar and thus cannot be counted as such.  You must consult with the DGS with regard to requesting an exception to use a graduate-level language course to fulfill Complit requirements. See FAQs.

Year Two: Other components—teaching and exam preparation—are added to the second year of the program. The Third Term Review committee will give you feedback on your progress through our graduate program and may suggest courses or faculty members to help you develop your areas of interest.  After your first year of coursework, which allows you to increase breadth of knowledge, your second year should increase depth as you define your fields of specialization and select a committee of three faculty members in preparation for the Preliminary Examination. You will have an opportunity to collaborate with your cohort in COMPLIT 601, where you will discuss teaching, conference presentation, professionalization, and the discipline of Comparative Literature, while also working on drafts of your reading list and rationale for the Preliminary Examination. During the 2016-17 year, it will be taught by the Director of Graduate Studies as a year-long course (3 credits in the fall and 1 credit in the winter) that meets every other week.

YEAR 2:              

Fall Term

Winter Term

Spring/Summer Term

 

1.  CL 601

1.  CL698 Ind. Study (1cr)

Read for Prelim Exam;

 

2.  Elective

2.  CL Seminar

Meet language proficiency

 

3.  Elective

3.  CL Seminar/Elective

by end of summer

 

4.  [Language course]

4.  Elective

 

 

 

5.  [Language course]

 

 

Teaching

Teaching

 


Year Three
Coursework is lighter in the third year of the program. You will take your Preliminary Examination in early September to achieve candidacy, and then focus on more specialized research for writing your Topics Paper.  You may continue teaching as a GSI or pursue deeper linguistic and cultural immersion by studying abroad.  Students who have achieved candidacy and completed coursework qualify to apply for the Comparative Literature Study Abroad Fellowship, awarded by the department for one or two semesters of study abroad (usually during the third or fourth year of graduate study).  Students electing to study or conduct research abroad during the third or fourth years are expected to take their exams and meet other program requirements on time and in person; they should plan accordingly. By the end of the third year, most students will have completed their required coursework.  

YEAR 3:            

Fall Term

Winter Term

Spring/Summer Term

 

1.  CL 990/995

1.  CL 995

Work on Prospectus

 

2.  CL Seminar/Elective

2.  CL Seminar /Elective

 

 

Preliminary Exam

Topics Paper

 

 

Teaching/Fellowship

Teaching/Fellowship

 


Year Four: 
During this year you will submit your Prospectus, file the names of your dissertation committee with Rackham, and begin drafting the first chapter of your dissertation.  You may continue teaching as a GSI, or pursue deeper linguistic and cultural immersion on a Study Abroad Fellowship or other fellowship funding.  Students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for Rackham Humanities Research Candidacy Fellowships (awarded by the Department with approval from Rackham) to be used in years 5 or 6 and other sources of funding across the University and beyond.

 YEAR 4:

Fall Term

Winter Term

Spring/Summer Term

 

1.  CL 995

1.  CL 995

Work on dissertation

 

Prospectus Defense

 

 

 

Teaching/Fellowship

Teaching/Fellowship

 


Years Five and Six: 
You will have the opportunity to apply for various fellowships that will give you time to pursue doctoral research and focus on writing your dissertation. If you are not on fellowship, you can apply for teaching as a GSI.  During the sixth year, the DGS works with jobseekers to prepare applications for academic teaching positions, postdoctoral fellowships, and other career opportunities.

YEAR 5&6:

Fall Term

Winter Term

Spring/Summer Term

 

1.  CL 995

1.  CL 995

Work on dissertation

 

Teaching/Fellowship

Teaching/Fellowship