An Outline of the Ph.D. Requirements in Comparative Literature
The basic outline of the coursework for the Ph.D. is as follows:
Year One: Eight graduate-level courses, including CMLT 501 and 502; demonstrated proficiency in one foreign languages; one substantial paper.
Years Two & Three: Eight graduate courses; Track Declaration in fall of second year; two substantial papers in second year; demonstrated proficiency in one foreign languages; oral examination passed by end of third year.
Year Four: Approved dissertation proposal by end of fourth year.
Years Five & Six: Dissertation colloquium at halfway point; completion of dissertation, culminating in dissertation defense and award of degree.
NB: Teaching under the GAI agreement is normally performed in years Three, Four, & Five.
The first year of the Ph.D. program consists of eight graduate-level courses, all of which must be taken for a quality letter grade (not pass/fail). Students are expected to take a minimum of six courses in their field of study in years One & Two with room for language study built in. The two-quarter foundational sequence Comparative Literature 501 and 502 is required for ALL first years and transfer students, including those with a previous MA.
The remaining courses are normally divided among two literatures, although a student may, with departmental permission, place greater emphasis on one literature or on some special interest. You should review details in the Track Statement and information on Track I and II before determining your plan of study. Consultation with the DGS and faculty mentor is advised when making this important decision between tracks. In order to obtain the MA degree, students must also demonstrate competence (high proficiency in a graduate literature course or high pass in a University translation examination) in two foreign languages, one of which must be either French or German.
At the annual spring review, faculty will review incompletes in evaluating student progress and determining awards. Students with any incompletes in required courses or in their plan of study at the time of the spring annual review will be asked to reconcile these unfinished courses before the being allowed to register for courses in fall quarter of the next academic year. All papers for incomplete courses should be turned in to the course professor, DGS, and department administrator no later than the first day of Autumn Quarter on the academic calendar. Students who have more than 1 incomplete at the beginning of the Autumn term will be placed on probation for one quarter. If they still have more than 1 incomplete at the end of the fall quarter, they will be denoted to the Dean of Students as making Unsatisfactory Progress and given a quarter to demonstrate renewed progress outlined by the DGS and in consultation with the student's faculty mentor. No student will be allowed to take his or her oral fields exam or advance to candidacy until all course work is complete.
Students' transcripts will be reviewed every quarter to establish "satisfactory progress." The transcripts should contain a majority of A or A- grades. Any grade of B + or above is considered satisfactory. Grades of B and below may be cause for concern. Courses with a grade of B- or below may not count toward departmental requirements.
Students will be eligible for the M.A. degree upon successful completion of the first-year requirements, which include submitting two seminar papers for departmental review by the end of the first week of May: one seminar paper written for either quarter of the two-quarter required seminar sequence and one that demonstrates use of a foreign language. Near the end of the first year, the department will review students' records to assess whether students have made satisfactory progress and to provide guidance regarding their future course of graduate study. For more information on the M.A. degree, see Humanities Divisional policies on Degrees.
Years Two and Three
Students are expected to take a minimum of six courses in their field of study in Year Two with room for language study built in. A full load usually is comprised of eight courses per academic year.
Entering with an MA
Students who enter the program with an M.A. degree from another university that has been judged suitable preparation for Comparative Literature study at the University of Chicago will still be required to take Comparative Literature 501 and 502. Otherwise, they receive credit for one year’s work (typically six courses) and are therefore required to take eight graduate courses in addition to foundational sequence in the first year and two in the second, corresponding to the normal requirements for second and third year PhDs.
Apart from course requirements, students with previous M.A. s follow a similar schedule to other students who matriculated in the same year.
The Humanities Division and the department provides up to five years of summer stipends to graduate students making satisfactory progress in the program. Summer Stipend are $4000 (as of 2019-2020) and can be used for summer research and language training. Requests for this funding are evaluated at the time of the Spring Review and are approved for students making satisfactory progress:
- End of first year—no more than 1 incomplete by the end of Spring quarter among the 8 required courses and submission of one substantial paper for department review.
- End of second year—no more than 1 incomplete by the end of Spring quarter among the 16 required courses for their first two years and submission of the final two substantial papers.
- End of third year—no incompletes by the end of spring quarter among the 16 required courses. Students should be done with required coursework by the end of the third year.
- End of fourth year—successful completion of the oral exam.
- End of fifth year—demonstrated progress towards academic milestones, pedagogical training, and advancement plan for advancement to candidacy
For admission to candidacy the same language requirements hold for both Track I and Track II.
The minimal requirements:
- High proficiency in French or German. This is demonstrated by passing a graduate literature course in the language (and approval by the faculty of record via form) or a high pass (P+) on the Graduate Reading Exam proctored by the Chicago Language Center.
- High proficiency in a second language other than English. This is demonstrated by passing a graduate literature course in the language (and approval by the faculty via CMLT department form m) or a high pass (P+) on the Graduate Reading Exam proctored by the Chicago Language Center.
Students should also be working towards native fluency in the language of their major literature by applying to studying abroad, only after exhausting UChicago language offerings. Funding for language study depends on the language and on the student’s immigration status; for more information, please review the websites of the Division and UChicagoGrad. In addition, students should prepare for job applications well in advance by taking the necessary qualifications to teach the language (see Teaching Requirements).
Registration for the language exam (for which a High Pass is required) can be found on the Graduate Reading Exam page. The exam is proctored by the Chicago Language Center where you can find more resources on language certificates, courses, and the schedule for language exams.
All graduate students who wish to fulfill the language requirement through graduate course work must submit the CMLT department form to be filled out by the instructor after the course work has been completed. The form will evaluate the student's general knowledge of the language with emphasis on reading.
Timeline: at least one high proficiency language should be confirmed in the first year. The remaining requirements must be completed before the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy to be reviewed by the chair of the candidate's committee and submitted to the department at the same time as the proposal form.
Students are reminded that competition for academic jobs requires that comparatists compete with native speakers and other national literature specialists an must therefore demonstrate equivalent oral and written skills and expertise in their primary (and ideally, secondary) language and literature.
Leaves of Absence
If students need to take a leave of absence during the program, including maternity leave, should first review divisional policy on residency and academic requirements in the UChicago Division of the Humanities Student Handbook. Consultation with the student's faculty chair, Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of Students to finalize the leave plans is required. In particular, students should note that taking leave of absence for a term, once that leave has been approved by the Dean of Students, does not excuse them from the obligation of meeting departmental requirements and the four years of Scholastic Residence mandated by the Humanities Division, nor does it extend the eight-year cap on registration.
Annual Academic Progress Report
Each student while enrolled in the program must complete an annual academic progress report, administered by the department. This report will be used by the faculty to assess students’ academic progress during the annual spring review. It complements but does not replace the “Advanced Studies” course that students are enrolled in when taking fewer than 300 units in years three and beyond. See the Humanities Division’s policy on academic progress for more information.
The Annual Report requires signed approval from your assigned faculty mentor, and (if applicable) from your exam and/or dissertation committee chair in the fourth and subsequent years and is due each Spring Quarter generally by mid-May.
The report should provide a brief account of post-coursework progress and/or problems with progress. For all students in the third year and beyond, this should include the date passed or scheduled for the oral exam and teaching that the student has accomplished in the past year, pedagogical training, and progress towards coursework.
After course work, all students must pass the oral examination before they can be admitted as candidates for the doctoral degree. Students should begin planning for this exam at the beginning of the third year so that they can take the exam by the end of spring in that third year as preferred by the Division of the Humanities. Students entering with a previous MA are encouraged to begin planning earlier, after completing required graduate coursework in the second year. In order to meet this deadline, students should work with qualified faculty who will be in residence at the time of the exam rather than waiting for faculty to return from leave. Individual faculty who are on leave during the exam can be asked to join the dissertation committee later.
Since the exam requires the candidate to respond to spontaneous as well as prepared questions, the candidate and all the examiners should all be present in the room. At the very least, the candidate, the exam committee chair and the second examiner must be present; the third examiner may if their absence from Chicago is truly unavoidable participate by Skype or equivalent method. This is an exceptional arrangement and can only be extended to one person on one screen. If the candidate cannot provide a working laptop to accommodate video conferencing, they may make a request to the department administrator a departmental laptop to use. This must be requested at the time of scheduling the exam and it is up to the student to arrange and setup any necessary microphones or auxiliary equipment.
Unlike the dissertation, which requires deep and focused research on a single project, the oral exam is designed to help students demonstrate broad competence in two national literatures or in literature and another professionally recognized discipline. Developing and demonstrating this competence helps to lay the intellectual groundwork for dissertation research but is also essential preparation for life after the dissertation, in other words for academic or other intellectual employment. Thus, while some secondary critical material should be included, the lists should contain predominantly primary material (ie, works of literature in the National Literature Oral). Students should provide their exam committee with a copy of the CMLT Oral Exam Report Form, should be submitted to the department administrator at the conclusion of the exam.
Examples of lists used by previous students are available here:
Track I: British and German Literature
Track I: British literature (major) and Epic/Romance in English, French and Italian (minor)
Track I: Anglophone and Lusophone
Track I: French and English
Track I: Hindi and Mandarin
Track I: Russian and German
Track II: Literature and History
Track II: Literature and Philosophy (French and English)
Track II: Literature and Philosophy (Chinese and Western)
Track II: Literature and Sciences of the Mind
Track II: Literature and Biblical Studies
Students must choose one of the following two options:
Track I requires "The National Literature Oral." This is a two-hour oral examination based on no fewer than 60 titles in one major literature and no fewer than 30 titles in the minor literature. The list for the major literature will address all periods and genres so as to prepare the candidate for a wide range of teaching opportunities. The list for the minor literature will treat major texts of a more limited period or specific genre to be approved by the examiners.
The exam will consist of (5-10 minutes) presentations on 3 topics related to the lists, each followed by questions from the examining faculty. In consultation with the examiners, the student may either prepare 2 topics related to the major literature list and 1 topic related to the minor literature list or prepare 3 topics that address the works on both lists.
Track II requires "The Field Oral." This is a two-hour oral examination on a representative list of approximately 70-90 titles in a given comparative field, such as literature and philosophy, literature and art history, literature and film, literature and history, literature and music, literature and sociology, literature and religion, literature and science. In order that candidates can find appropriate examiners to help them prepare for field expertise as it is generally understood by professionals, the second discipline should be represented by a distinct department or PhD granting unit in the University. Subfields like postcolonial studies or drama, which are normally embedded in literature departments are therefore not eligible for the field oral.
Texts chosen for the field oral exam are to be distributed evenly between the two disciplines and should include works in the languages of the candidate’s competence in addition to English. The exam will consist of brief (5-10 minutes) presentations on 3 topics related to the lists, each followed by questions from the examining faculty.
Assembling the committee
The exam committee is assembled by the student and should be comprised of two or three full-time UChicago faculty members, at least one of whom must be a core member of Comparative Literature. Of the other two, for Track I: one examiner should cover the minor list, while two share the responsibility for the major, but the Comparative Literature member may also elect to ask questions about both lists. For Track II: one member should be a specialist in the other discipline represented in the exam, and the other would normally be a literature specialist, ideally but not necessarily with interest in the other discipline.
Students are responsible for assembling their lists based on their reading and/or course work. and in consultation with their examiners. Once all examiners are satisfied, the candidate must complete and circulate the oral exam book list approval form. Students should consult with their exam committee to make sure they are meeting list expectations. Once the exam list has been approved by all members of the committee, a copy needs to be filed with the department a month before the scheduled exam.
Scheduling the oral exam should be arranged by the candidate with the examiners when filing the final oral exam reading list with the department. Because finding a date and time for oral examinations can sometimes be complicated, students should contact their examiners to find a conducive time and then alert the departmental administrator as early as possible so that they may assist the student in scheduling a room for the exam. Oral examinations are not administered during official academic breaks or over the summer.
The Humanities Division expects students to complete PhD exams by the end of the third year if possible, to enable transition to work on the dissertation proposal and the defense of that proposal by the end of the fourth year. Meeting this schedule will enable applications for extra summer funding and additional travel awards and fellowships posted on the Divisional website. If a student has not completed the oral examinations by the end of his or her fourth year, they may be put on academic probation if it is determined their academic progress is unsatisfactory by the faculty mentor and DGS. If a student fails to complete the examination by the end of the fifth year, they will be dismissed from the program.
Students who fail the oral examination may, (at the discretion of the committee) be allowed to retake the examination once and only once. If a retake is granted, it must be completed within two quarters of the original exam date. Continuation in the Ph.D. program is dependent upon success in the oral exam.
Track Declaration: Format and Schedule
At the start of their second year, after consultation with advisers in their chosen areas and with the approval of the Comparative Literature faculty, Comparative literature students choose either Track I on “National Literatures” or Track II on “Literature and another discipline” for their future research and teaching preparation.
Track I "National Literatures" requires a major focus upon one national literature (the major) with a secondary focus upon one or more second national literature, usually in a specified historical period or genre (the minor). Track 1 students must take at least 3 graduate courses in their major national literature. Because students are likely to apply for jobs in national language departments as well as in Comparative Literature, these courses must be taken for full grade credit in those national literature departments.
Track II "Literature and Another Discipline" focuses on the critical relationship between literature and a non-literary discipline such as philosophy, history, art history, or music. In order to fulfill the requirement, this discipline must be authorized by a recognized department or PhD granting committee in the University of Chicago. Sub-disciplines within literary study, such as post-colonial studies, area studies (e.g. Mediterranean) or period (e.g. Renaissance) are not separate disciplines and are therefore not options for a second track).
Track II students must take at least 3 graduate courses in the department that they choose other than literature. Students should consult with their advisors and with the DGS to ensure that they take courses appropriate for their chosen fields of specialization.
a) a general statement explaining which track and why; b) which courses already taken in the first year fit the requirements; c) which courses will be taken in the second year to fit the requirements; d) which faculty the student will be working with, including at least one full member of Comparative Literature and one member of the other relevant department, based on courses taken or to be taken and/or confirmation of interest from said faculty, to ensure advance planning for completing all course requirements early in the third year.
Since the track declaration is a declaration of intent that is subject to revision and which will be finalized only once the student passes the Track exam (see below for guidance and samples of successful exams), the department cannot post samples on a public website. Students should take the initiative to contact faculty members in the first year of study, to discuss the research and teaching that they wish to pursue, so as to prepare effectively for the track declaration.
The track declaration should be submitted to the department in a WORD or PDF document no later than the third week of the fall quarter. The track declaration must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and Faculty Mentor who may make recommendations for the proposed course of study. In such cases, the track declaration should be revised and resubmitted for approval.
Students are also required to write a minimum of one substantial paper in year one, and two substantial papers in the second year, for a total of three substantial papers submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies (for AY19/20) Professor Mark Payne with copy to the Department Administrator, Ingrid Sagor.
Substantial papers should be 20-25 pages, not including bibliography with standard formatting and 12-point font. Papers should be submitted in a polished and final form with marginalia commentary integrated and track editing turned off. Copies of these papers must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies (for AY19/20 Professor Mark Payne) with copy to the Departmental Administrator, Ingrid Sagor and include the Substantial Paper Form. These papers are an important aspect of the annual review. Each substantial paper must met the following criteria:
- it should generally be longer than a standard term paper or final: 20-25 pages in 12-point font, not including bibliography;
- it must demonstrate substantial in-depth research into context and secondary sources;
- it must demonstrate conventional grammar standards and formatting and be polished and final in nature
- short projects such as term papers, final papers, and conference papers are therefore not substitutes for the substantial paper
Substantial papers in the department of Comparative Literature must be submitted in English so that all faculty members can read them during the Spring Review. Students writing for courses that may require or encourage submission in other languages should therefore provide a translation in addition to the original submission.
In order to ensure that the paper meets the above criteria, students will need to contact seminar instructors for consent at the proposal stage before writing the paper or developing a term or final paper into a substantial paper. Students are required to obtain from instructors a signed approval form attesting that the paper meets the above stated requirement. You should submit substantial papers to the Director of Graduate Studies (for AY19/20 Professor Mark Payne) with copy to the Departmental Administrator, Ingrid Sagor and include the Substantial Paper Form.
All academic and teaching records of students are reviewed yearly by Comparative Literature faculty prior to submitting recommendations to the Humanities Dean of Students. Continuation of funding is dependent on meeting departmental and divisional requirements for satisfactory academic progress and completion of teaching obligations. In particular, summer stipends are conditional on satisfactory progress and may be revoked during periods of academic probation.
All students must meet the full-time residency requirements for Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters during their coursework years and Oral Exam preparation. The policy of the Humanities Division requires full-time scholastic residency for four years.
In the first three years of the program while students are involved in coursework, all students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Faculty Mentor prior to each quarter to discuss progress and receive approval for course registration.
Once students have finished coursework and are registering for fewer than 300 units per quarter, they will be automatically enrolled in an Advanced Studies course for up to 300 units with the instructor listed as the DGS. The pass/fail grades for this Advanced Studies course will be assigned by the DGS based on the annual review of student progress in the Spring quarter.
Departmental and Divisional Policy
Students may not begin the academic year with any incomplete work. This is Humanities Division policy; students are expected to start each term and each year with their full attention on current course work.
Students with incompletes in required courses at the time of the spring annual review in May will be required by the Dean to demonstrate that all incomplete work has been completed and graded before the beginning of Autumn quarter of the next academic year. All papers for incomplete courses must therefore reach the course professor and the department before the start of Autumn quarter (usually no later than August 31, with copy to the Departmental Administrator) to allow the professor time to grade the paper before the start of the next academic year.
Students with any incompletes at the beginning of Autumn quarter will be placed on academic probation and given one quarter to reconcile their incompletes. Students with ongoing incompletes will not be able to proceed to oral examination, dissertation proposal, serve as a CA, or teach under the GAI until all incompletes are resolved.
Failure to meet requirements will jeopardize further progress in the program and in the profession and may be grounds for withdrawal from the Department and the University.
After passing their oral exams, students must promptly begin working on a dissertation proposal under the guidance of their dissertation committee. This committee must include two UChicago faculty members, of which at least one should be a Comparative Literature faculty member. Before adding one or more members to the required two, students must explain to the dissertation director why their project requires a third reader, and should weigh the need, such as language or theoretical expertise not already represented by the original members, against the cost. Adding members tends to slow down feedback, revision, and thus also time to degree so should be undertaken only after careful consideration.
A dissertation proposal is necessarily provisional in its claims; students may change aspects of their argument as they continue to do their dissertation research, thinking, and writing. Nevertheless, formulating a coherent and compelling proposal is a vital step toward successfully completing the dissertation in a timely fashion.
The dissertation proposal should demonstrate that the student (a) has moved from thoughts on a topic to advancing a significant and original set of questions about that topic; (b) has sufficient understanding of the relevant scholarship and of his or her chosen methodology, and (c) has formulated plausible organizing principles for the dissertation as a whole.
The dissertation proposal should run approximately 12-20 pages or 3000-5000 words (excluding bibliography) and include the following:
- statement of the topic or problem the dissertation will address with a succinct discussion of the inadequacies and insufficiencies of previous approaches to this topic or problem. The discussion of previous approaches should not be an exhaustive history of previous scholarship, but rather a pointed discussion of the most important and relevant scholarship with which the dissertation will engage
- preliminary version of the dissertation's overall argument, as you understand it at this point
- discussion of the specific contributions to its field of specialization the dissertation seeks to make
- explanation of the methodology to be used, with relevant representatives cited
- outline of the dissertation's chapter organization and contents
- preliminary working bibliography of primary and secondary publications, and archives if relevant
There are various ways of organizing the dissertation proposal effectively, but the outline of the dissertation's chapter organization and contents normally appears as the final section before the bibliography. Students must consult their dissertation committee members regarding the committee members' specific expectations (e.g., regarding the optimum length of the proposal) as they work on their dissertation proposal.
Students who get stuck at any stage of writing the proposal should make use UChicago Grad's Writing Resources
Submitting and defending
Before entering candidacy students are required to present and discuss their dissertation proposals at a proposal hearing. This hearing must be arranged by the student who will submit the proposal to the department administrator a month in advance. The hearing will be presided over by the dissertation committee chair and attended by their dissertation committee and other interested faculty. The optimal discussion of the proposal depends on face to face communication.
At the very least, the candidate, the dissertation committee chair and the second reader must be present; the third reader may if their absence from Chicago is truly unavoidable participate by Skype or equivalent method. This is an exceptional arrangement and can only be extended to one person on one screen. If the candidate cannot provide a working laptop to accommodate video conferencing, they may make a request to the department administrator a departmental laptop to use. This must be requested at the time of scheduling the exam and it is up to the student to arrange and setup any necessary microphones or auxiliary equipment.
Once the faculty approves the proposal before the hearing, the chair of the committee should submit the signed Dissertation Proposal Approval Form to the department, and the candidate must file a copy of the dissertation proposal with the department. The Divisional Language Requirement form (see above under Language Requirements) must also be submitted at this time or before the proposal hearing before the candidate can be admitted to candidacy
In order to complete a dissertation in a timely fashion, students must sustain momentum after their oral examinations so as to make an effective transition to the dissertation write-up or candidacy phase. Students should have a dissertation proposal completed and approved by their dissertation committee by the end of the quarter following their oral fields examination. If they are not able to meet this deadline for a fully approved proposal, they must at least submit a rough draft to the committee along with a written explanation of sound academic reasons for the delay.
Students who are admitted to candidacy by the conclusion of their fifth year and who have at least one polished and approved chapter will be eligible to apply for the Humanities Division Dissertation Completion Fellowships. Students who earn the DCF in year 6 are also eligible for an appointment under the UChicago Humanties Teaching Fellows Program after defending their dissertations.
All students must pass their proposal hearing and submit an approved proposal to the department within three quarters of passing their oral fields examinations; failure to do so may be grounds for removal from the doctoral program. Students who do not pass their proposal hearing by spring of their fifth year will be withdrawn, per Divisional policy.
Dissertation Expectations and Feedback
The Humanities Division expects dissertations to be completed within five to seven years after matriculation. Candidates should be aware, however, that the newly expanded Graduate Aid Initiative in the Humanities funding package lasts only six years. In order to be eligible for dissertation funding beyond the fifth year, doctoral candidates must meet the following expectations:
After admission to candidacy, dissertation writers are expected to produce at the minimum one chapter per academic year, and preferably two to three chapters. Producing polished chapters acceptable to their dissertation committee members requires handing in draft chapters at regular intervals with the expectation that the committee members may ask for several rounds of revisions before deeming the chapter acceptable.
Because of the time needed for faculty to respond to work and for the student to make necessary revisions, candidates must provide the dissertation committee with at least one chapter by no later than the end of April each academic year. Students who get stuck at any stage with a chapter should explore writing support offered by UGrad Student Affairs, the Comparative Literature Writing Workshop, and the Council on Advanced Studies Workshop.
It is not acceptable to wait until May when the Annual Academic Progress Report is due to get back in touch with, or turn in a chapter to one’s dissertation committee. Failure to meet the end-of-April deadline may jeopardize continuation in the doctoral program.
Doctoral candidates should normally expect their readers, including those on leave, to return dissertation chapters with written comments within a month of receiving them, barring exceptional circumstances. However, faculty can meet these expectations only if the doctoral candidate demonstrates his or her commitment to the dissertation by providing chapters and revisions to the dissertation committee members on a timely basis. If any member of the dissertation committee does not provide feedback to a completed chapter within the standard month, without adequate explanation, the candidate should discuss the matter with the Director of Graduate Studies and Department Administrator. If the DGS and Administrator cannot resolve problems regarding timely feedback after the candidate requests help, the candidate should work with the DGS to contact the Department Chair and Dean of Students only in exceptional circumstances where progress has been impeded due to this delay.
In addition to sharing chapters with their dissertation committee, doctoral candidates’ writing and professional development depend on presenting work to others. Candidates are therefore strongly urged to join appropriate graduate workshops to observe other graduate students and candidates presenting chapter-length work and conference papers, and to present their chapters on a regular basis to such workshops. Lists of workshops can be found on the website of the Council on Advanced Studies. The department of Comparative Literature also offers a monthly colloquium and writing workshop where such work can be discussed.
Dissertation Completion Fellowships
All candidates who are still working on their dissertations in the winter of their fifth and sixth years should be prepared to apply for dissertation completion fellowships not only in the Humanities Division, but also in University Centers for the Study of Gender, Center for the Study of Politics & Race, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Jewish Studies, and area studies such as Latin American and East Asian scholarly foundations. Candidates should also inform themselves of outside funding from resources like the Fulbright, DAAD, Lurcy Foundation, the American Council on Learned Societies.
Candidates are eligible to apply for dissertation completion fellowships only if they have completed at least one polished and approved chapter of the dissertation by the application deadline and are in good academic standing demonstrating sustained progress. Fellowship awards often require certification that the dissertation will be completed within the term of the award, and require students to meet minimum qualifications which vary based on the award. Candidates should note that being eligible to apply for funding is never a guarantee that an award will be offered and should therefore apply for funding from a variety of sources and consider teaching in the College, serving as a writing tutor to fund advanced years of dissertation write up, and continue to grow pedagogical skills.
For more information about fellowships and divisional policies on progress, the 6-year funding package, 8 year registration cap, and more, graduate students should review the Division of the Humanities website.
About half way through the dissertation, normally in the fifth quarter or after the completion and approval of half the number of chapters outlined in the proposal, the candidate will arrange for a colloquium with their dissertation committee. Summer quarters will count in determining the number of quarters after admission to candidacy, but if the fifth quarter falls in summer quarter, the conference will be delayed until the succeeding autumn quarter.
In this colloquium, candidates will discuss with their dissertation committee the current state of the dissertation and outline their plans and schedule for further progress. This meeting will also help ensure that dissertation committee members are aware of each other's views and expectations. Candidates will be notified when they have reached their fifth quarter after admission to candidacy and reminded that it is their responsibility to schedule a colloquium with their dissertation committee.
The optimal discussion of the dissertation in progress depends on face to face communication. At the very least, the candidate, the dissertation director and the required second reader must be present in the room; if the third reader must be absent, he/she may participate on Skype or equivalent program but this exceptional arrangement can be extended to only one person on one screen. It is the candidate’s responsibility to provide a working laptop with the Skype or other software required, if the candidate cannot provide a working laptop, they may request use of the departmental laptop from the Departmental Administrator at the time of scheduling the colloquium.
The candidate must conclude his or her studies by defending successfully the dissertation in an oral final examination. Candidates must get the approval of their committee for a dissertation defense prior to submitting the full dissertation at least a month in advance so there is time to arrange for other faculty members and the dean's representative to attend. The dissertation should be submitted in the standard format required by the University’s dissertation office.
The defense of the dissertation in the company of the dissertation committee, the chair, the dean’s representative and the faculty and other doctoral candidates in the Department of Comparative Literature depends on face to face communication among a larger number of people than the previous meetings discussed above.
At the very least, the candidate, the exam committee chair and the second examiner must be present; the third examiner may if their absence from Chicago is truly unavoidable participate by Skype or equivalent method. This is an exceptional arrangement and can only be extended to one person on one screen. If the candidate cannot provide a working laptop to accommodate video conferencing, they may make a request to the department administrator a departmental laptop to use. This must be requested at the time of scheduling the exam and it is up to the student to arrange and setup any necessary microphones or auxiliary equipment.
Please visit the Dissertation Office website for more specific information on university-wide deadlines, formatting, and submission procedures.
Pedagogical Training & Teaching Requirements
Pedagogical Training Plan
Graduates from Comparative Literature compete for positions in diverse institutions of higher education. Many of these institutions are teaching-intensive. Even Research 1 institutions require significant evidence of solid teaching experience and training. Graduates from Comparative Literature who want to be successful on the academic job market need strong teaching profiles; a terrific dissertation, and record of publication is not enough. It is teaching, increasingly, that sets our most successful students apart and gets them jobs.
The pedagogical training of students of Comparative Literature is complicated by the fact that they have to be ambi-, even multi-dextrous so that they are qualified and prepared not only to teach successfully in comparative literature departments but also in language departments or departments of other disciplines such as religious studies, film studies, area studies, to name a few. Thus, graduates from Comparative Literature must be trained in multiple pedagogical methodologies and have appropriate teaching experience.
All graduates of our program should all be able to:
- design and teach introductory courses in the discipline
- design and teach introductory and upper-level courses in their field
- design effective assignments for a range of courses
- effectively facilitate discussion
- design and deliver an effective lecture
- describe their approach to student learning and give reasons for their pedagogical choices
Students will graduate well-versed in methods and approaches of undergraduate writing instruction, and are encouraged to seek additional training in inclusive pedagogy through the Chicago Center for Teaching (CCT) and Diversity + Inclusion programming.
The Pedagogical Training Plan breaks down (generally) into the following recommended pedagogical and teaching experiences:
- Year 2 Completion of course HUMA 50000: Pedagogies of Writing
- Year 3 Completion of course CCTE 50200: Critical Pedagogy in the University Classroom
- 1-2 Writing Internship or Course Assistantships
- Year 4 1-3 Course Lectureship (stand-alone language, seminar, or College Core course)
- Year 5 Completion of course CCTE 50000: Course Design and College Teaching
- Completion of Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop/s
- Completion of course ENGL 33000: Academic and Professional
- Year 6 1-2 Course Lectureship (stand-alone language, seminar, or College Core course)
Preceptorship in Comparative Literature