Department of Languages, Linguistics & Comparative Literature

Master of Arts in Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature is a graduate program of study for the Master of Arts, available to majors in British, French, German, Italian, Peninsular Spanish, Latin American, or United States literatures.

Comparative Literature broadens the context of single works of literature, provides a method of looking beyond the national frontiers of languages and cultures, and studies major authors, periods and genres, trends and movements in international contexts.

Comparative Literature is also, by tradition, the study of literature beyond the geo-cultural boundaries of one particular country or hemispheric region. In addition, it pays special attention also to the study of relationships between literature and other areas of knowledge and intellectual inquiry. This includes areas such as linguistics, the visual and performing arts (e.g., cinema, painting, sculpture. architecture, music), philosophy, history, the social sciences (e.g., politics, economics, sociology), as well as other fields such as the sciences, religion, etc. In sum, it is the comparison of the literary with other spheres of human epistemology, expression, and intellectual investigation.

A cardinal feature of the graduate curriculum is the small core requirement in terms of specific courses, and the correspondingly large number of electives taken in different fields. Each student develops his or her own program in consultation with Comparative Literature faculty, and pursues individually supervised research interests, beginning in LIT 6066 and culminating in a comparative thesis (30 credit program) or exam without thesis (36 credits). An additional forum for discussion and co-operative effort is FACS (Florida Atlantic Comparative Studies), a professional scholarly journal edited in the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature.

Admission to Comparative Study

Any student admitted to graduate study by the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature or the Department of English is eligible to apply. The student who specializes in two literatures will be expected to study both literatures in their original languages, and an advanced competency exam may be required in the primary and/or secondary language.

In addition, students who do not hold the Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) in one of the literatures or other areas of concentration may be asked to do a certain amount of preliminary course work, without credit toward the degree; these courses may be taken after admission to the Master’s program.

Course Requirements

The M.A. degree in Comparative Literature requires the student to pursue one of the two following programs: (1) the study of two literatures in their original languages, one of which may be British or American literature; or (2) the study of one literature as the primary concentration and a non-literary field as the secondary concentration.

The literature studied may be chosen from among the following, which are offered at FAU: American (i.e., United States, Canadian, Anglo/Caribbean), British, French, German, Italian, Spanish Peninsular, Latin American. There is no additional language requirement beyond the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters requirement for the Master of Arts degrees.

Course work will consist of at least 30 graduate credits for the thesis option and 36 for the non–thesis option (all in courses with readings in the original languages), with the following minimum distribution:

  • Thesis Track:
    Comparative Literature Core
    LIT 6066 Introduction to Comparative Study 3 credits
    LIT 6xxx Comp Lit seminar 3 credits

    Graduate Credits
    Primary Literature of Concentration 12 credits
    Secondary Area of Concentration 6 credits

    Thesis (6 credits)
    LIT 6971 Thesis 6 credits

    Minimum Total for Thesis M.A. Degree: 30 credits

    Non-thesis Track:
    Comparative Literature Core
    LIT 6066 Introduction to Comparative Study 3 credits
    LIT 6xxx Comp Lit seminar 3 credits

    Graduate Credits
    Primary Literature of Concentration 15 credits
    Secondary Area of Concentration 9 credits

    Electives (6 credits) 6 credits

    Minimum Total for Non-thesis M.A. Degree: 36 credits

The Literatures of Concentration: General Expectations

A knowledge of the student’s primary literature of concentration should comprise an acquaintance with each of the major historical periods and literary genres. A knowledge of the second literature will focus, for the purpose of the student’s program, on a major historical period (e.g., Middle Ages, Renaissance, Neo-classical, or Modern Period), major literary genre (poetry, drama, or novel), or other special emphasis approved by the Comparative Literature advisors. Any such emphasis should presuppose both a clear awareness of the theoretical issues involved and a solid grounding in the historical development of the literatures studied.

In consultation with Comparative Literature advisors, each student should prepare a provisional program of studies beginning not later than the second semester of study.

The Thesis

Early in the student’s program, a three–person thesis committee should be constituted from Comparative Literature faculty plus, as appropriate, faculty advisors from the primary and secondary concentrations. The M.A. degree will be awarded upon acceptance by the candidate’s committee of a thesis dealing with two areas of study, as defined above.

The Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam will consist of a three-day written exam and a one and one–half hour oral exam. The written exam will be drawn from the student’s course work and the general reading list of required general works selected in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.

For more information, click here or contact Myriam Ruthenberg,
Head, Program in Comparative Literature
Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature
Telephone (561) 297-2530 • Fax (561) 297-2657
E-mail: ruthenbe@fau.edu

 Last Modified 4/18/15