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Faculty Spotlight

NEWS FLASH: We thank Elin Diamond, Professor of English, for 6 great years of service as Graduate Director/Chair of Comparative Literature and we welcome Michael Levine, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, as new Graduate Director/Chair. We welcome back Professor Jorge Marcone to a second 3-year term as Undergraduate Director

Congratulations to the following faculty:

EDYTA BOJANOWSKA has received the 2013-2014 ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship and will spend the year in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Her work in Comparative Literature was recently featured in the Rutgers article "Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Beyond".                                         MICHAEL G. LEVINE has published a book entitled "A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida and Celan" (Fordham UP, 2013).                                                 SUSAN MARTIN-MÁRQUEZ, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature, has won National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for 2013-2014.
BEN. SIFUENTES-JÁUREGUI, Professor of American Studies and Comparative Literature, has received the Warren I. Susman award for Excellence in Teaching in 2013.

SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS to MARILYN TANKIEWICZ, Administrative Assistant in Comparative Literature, who has won the Graduate School-New Brunswick Staff Excellence Award for 2013. Way to go, Marilyn!!

Graduate Student Spotlight

Comparative Literature congratulates DR. SHIRLI SELA-LEVAVI, who successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Guests in their Own Homes: Homecoming, Memory and Authorship in A Guest for the Night by S.Y. Agnon and the Yash Novels by Jacob Glatstein".

Congratulations also to:

DR. ALESSIO LERRO, who successfully defended his dissertation entitled" From Baroque Allegory to Romantic Sublime: Writing, Images, and Subjectivity in Tesauro, Vico, and Novalis".                    DR. MARIA KAGER, who successfully defended her dissertation entitled "The Bilingual Imagination: Joyce, Beckett, Nabokov and the Making of Modern Fiction". Maria is also the winner of a fellowship from Carolus Magnus Fonds, a division of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds of the Netherlands, and will use the Carolus Magnus fellowship to work on a book proposal and to write two more articles.
winner of an "associateship" in the workshop in Scholarly and Literary Translation from Slavic Languages as well as an Individualized Research Practicum through the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois.

Congratulations to all!


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Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. Program

The Language Requirements

The knowledge of more than one language other than English remains a fundamental tool of the comparatist. A profound knowledge of a language and its cultural context is as much an intellectual endeavor as the study of literary texts or acquisition of theoretical approaches. For this reason, the active mastery of one language other than English and an advanced reading knowledge of two additional languages other than English, whether classical or modern, are required. By a profound knowledge and active mastery we mean that a comparatist should be able to present a formal paper at an academic conference and engage in a discussion without difficulty in that language. This requirement may be met by filing the Comparative Literature Language Proficiency Form after an interview with a Rutgers professor with the appropriate qualifications. The other two languages are considered reading and research languages. Competency in these two languages may be demonstrated by passing a translation examination offered by the Graduate School or by taking an upper division undergraduate course or graduate course taught in the target language. In addition, primary texts on the PhD reading list must be read in the original language, unless this requirement is waived by the Adviser with the approval of the Graduate Director.

Credit Requirements, Transfer of Credits, Incompletes, GPA

Ph.D. students are required to complete 72 credits, of which 48 must be graduate course credits and 24 graduate research credits. No more than 12 credits may be taken in any one semester without permission from the graduate director. 9 credits per semester is considered a full course load. After completing two semesters of study at Rutgers with no incompletes, students may transfer up to a maximum of 9 graduate credits from another institution subject to the approval of the Adviser, Graduate Director and the Graduate School.

The Graduate School allows one year to change an incomplete before it becomes permanent. If incomplete work is not finished by the end of the following semester, the incomplete may become permanent and no credit will be received for the course in question. A hold on registration will be placed on any student who exceeds more than 2 incompletes until all of the required work is completed. Failure to complete the required work by the stipulated deadlines will result in suspension from the program. Students must then reapply to the program to reactivate their status, and readmission will be subject to the approval of the Adviser, Graduate Director and the Graduate School.
Students may take up to six credits of independent study. Only under exceptional circumstances, and with the permission of the graduate director, may this limitation be waived.

Consideration for fellowships and teaching assistantships depends on maintaining a GPA of at least 3.5 and the timely elimination of incompletes.

Course Requirements

Course requirements are not obstacles but signposts along the path toward completion of the PhD (keeping in mind that comparatists often take detours and seldom take shortcuts). The student acquaints him/herself with major trends in literary theory and criticism, acquires a broad knowledge of a single national literature, and establishes profound knowledge of a particular research field. In addition to the fields represented by the departments listed below, graduate work may also be done in Asian Languages and Cultures, and Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures through the doctoral Program in Comparative Literature, although neither department currently has its own graduate program.
•    01:195:501 Theory
•    01:195:502 Comparative Literature: the Discipline and the Profession
•    4 graduate courses in one of the following departments: Classics, English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish & Portuguese.
•    An intellectually coherent series of 9 graduate courses, at least 3 of which must be in Comparative Literature (in addition to 01:195:501 and 01:195:502), selected with the approval of the Adviser. These courses form the intellectual foundation of a research project culminating in the dissertation.


Students in their first semester are advised by the Graduate Director. In the second or third semester, the student chooses an Adviser, who must be a member of the Core or Affiliate faculty, in consultation with the Graduate Director. Each semester the Adviser sends a written report on the progress of the student to the Graduate Director. The student may, indeed, must, rely on the advice of other faculty as well. The Adviser's primary task is to see that the student progresses smoothly through the program, meeting all requirements, preparing for exams, and establishing contact with faculty appropriate to his/her interests. Once the student determines the topic of the dissertation s/he may choose a Dissertation Director other than the Adviser.

Ph.D. Exam:  rationale and description

The Ph.D. qualifying exam is taken after the completion of course work and language requirements. The exam is conceived to test students broadly and in depth about the major texts (understanding that “text” may include film and works in other media), topics, theories, and critical histories of the student’s chosen field. Our understanding is that the exam is not a stand-alone event disengaged from dissertation research and writing; rather it exists to help prepare the student to write the dissertation. The reading list, composed by the student with strong input from the chair and other committee members, should include about 100 works that serve as the groundwork for dissertation research and writing. The examination has a written and an oral component. The written exam is distributed to the student on a Friday and returned on a Monday. The committee submits three questions, of which the student answers two. All members of the committee read and evaluate the answers. Within two weeks, the committee meets with the student for a one-hour oral exam, the purpose of which is to explore questions raised by the written exam, as well as other topics relevant to the reading list but not covered in the written exam.

Examination Committee

The examination committee consists of three faculty members, a chair and two others. The chair must be Core or Affiliate Faculty in Comparative Literature and is usually the professor who has agreed to direct the student’s dissertation. The other members of the committee should, if possible, be Core or Affiliate faculty in Comparative Literature. The Graduate Director may grant special permission to an exam committee member who is not on the Core/Affiliate roster. As soon as the reading list is in place, at least one semester before exams are scheduled, students should submit their list to their Graduate Director.

Exam Timing and Preparation
Graduate students in Comp Lit generally have 4-year funding packages. Because of the comparative nature of their course work, students entering with a B.A. are usually not ready to take exams before the end of their third year or beginning of their 4th year. However, students entering with an M.A. are encouraged to take exams in their 3rd year, leaving the 4th year free for research and writing.  As part of exam preparation, students should meet regularly with their committee to discuss the reading list.


Within three weeks of the beginning of the following semester after which the exams were taken, the student submits to her/his Dissertation Director and committee a prospectus of 5 pages plus an extensive bibliography. A copy will be submitted to the Graduate office.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee may include the members of the exam committee and one (or, under exceptional circumstances, two) additional members from outside the Core or Affiliate Faculty of Comparative Literature. The outside reader(s) may be from a university other than Rutgers. The dissertation director must be a member of the Core or Affiliate Faculty of Comparative Literature. Upon approval of the prospectus, the student provides his/her Dissertation Director with a writing schedule including an intended termination date. The dissertation defense is the final requirement to be fulfilled before awarding of the Ph.D.

Below is the usual timetable toward completion of the degree for a student who enters with a B.A. Students who come having already completed coursework elsewhere or with outside funding or who spend a year abroad will have somewhat different trajectories.

Fall Semester: Year One

  • 9-12 credits of coursework
  • Advised by Graduate Director
  • Fellowship support

Spring Semester: Year One

  • 9-12 credits of coursework
  • Select adviser
  • Fellowship support

Fall Semester: Year Two

  • 9-12 credits of coursework
  • Fellowship support
  • Report due from adviser

Spring Semester: Year Two

  • 9-12 credits of coursework
  • Fellowship support
  • Report due from adviser

Fall Semester: Year Three

  • All coursework and language requirements should be completed
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Report due from adviser

Spring Semester: Year Three

  • Submission and approval of PhD reading list
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Report due from adviser

Fall Semester: Year Four

  • PhD Qualifying Exam
  • Writing Schedule Submitted
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Report due from adviser

Spring Semester: Year Four

  • Prospectus Submitted and Approved
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Report due from adviser

Fall Semester: Year Five

  • Report due from adviser

Spring Semester: Year Five

  • Report due from adviser

Fall Semester: Year Six

  • Report due from adviser

Spring Semester: Year Six

  • Report due from adviser
Last Updated on Friday, 01 February 2013 06:16