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Indiana University Bloomington

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Ph.D. Program


Course Requirements

A total of 90 credit hours, including 65 credit hours of course work, of which 35 credit hours must be in Comparative Literature. Up to 30 credit hours earned for the Master’s Degree may be counted toward this total, but the research hours given for the doctoral dissertation may not. The dissertation must not exceed 25 credit hours of C810. All graduate students will be required to take C501 (Introduction to Contemporary Literary Studies), C502 (Fields and Methods of Comparative Literature), and two literature survey courses offered by the Department, one dealing with the pre-modern period and one dealing with the modern period. The first survey requirement would normally be met by taking C505, C521, C523, or C525; the second survey requirement would normally be met by taking C506, C529, C533, C535, C537 or C538. In addition, Ph.D. students must complete a proseminar chosen from graduate courses in Comparative Literature that have not been used to fulfill other course requirements. (See the discussion of the proseminar requirement under M.A. Degree Coursework Requirements.) In special cases,
petitions to substitute courses for the period courses listed above may be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies or the Department Chair.

Many courses from other departments involving a comparative approach may be counted toward the Comparative Literature major. These courses are listed under the heading “Comparative Literature” in the Graduate School Bulletin. If a question arises, consult the Department Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies. With the consent of his or her advisor, a student may also apply to have a course that is not cross-listed count toward the Comparative Literature major. Approval for such an arrangement should be obtained from the Department Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies before the student enrolls in the course. Only by way of exception can a student ask that a course offered by another department be counted as a Comparative Literature course. Note: All requests for exceptions must be approved with the written consent of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Language Requirements

Entering doctoral students are normally expected to have a good command of at least two foreign languages. Students will ultimately need certified reading proficiency in three foreign languages in order to be eligible for the Ph.D. qualifying examinations. The procedures for certifying proficiency in a foreign language are essentially the same for doctoral students as for master’s students.

Ph.D. Minor Requirements

As part of the doctoral degree, majors in Comparative Literature must complete the requirements for either (a) two minor fields (subject concentrations) or (b) one intensive or double minor in a single field. The requirements for minor fields vary with each department granting minors, and students must contact the departments in which they intend to minor in order to be certain of the requirements. There is usually a minimum of 12 credit hours required in each minor; an intensive minor would normally consist of at least 24 credit hours. It is the sole responsibility of the student to have the appropriate department(s) notify both the Comparative Literature Office and the Graduate School that the respective minor requirements have been met. Students are normally expected to obtain prior approval of their plans for course work in a minor field from the Graduate Advisor (or comparable officer) in the minor department or program. For those who plan to teach, a solid grounding in an area other than Comparative Literature  (for example, in a national literature) is strongly recommended. Since many teaching positions will be joint appointments, competence in more than one area is critical.

Besides Ph.D. minors granted by individual departments or programs, many interdepartmental minors are available. For information about the following interdepartmental minors, see the Graduate School Bulletin.

Ph.D. Minor in Biblical and Literary Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Cultural Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Film Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Gender Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Jewish Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Human Sexuality
Ph.D. Minor in Medieval Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Renaissance Studies
Ph.D. Minor in Semiotic Studies

Qualifying Examinations

Students will not be allowed to take the Ph.D. qualifying exams until authorized by the Director of Graduate Studies. The Department has approved these steps in order to prevent misunderstanding on the part of students or faculty about the form, content, or procedures involved in the exams and to underscore the importance of these exams in preparing students for the final stage of the doctoral program.


Students become eligible to take the Ph.D. qualifying examinations when they have completed the following requirements:

  1. Official application and admission to the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature
  2. Certification of reading proficiency in three foreign languages, or two foreign languages plus approved substitution of 27 credit hours in a non-literary discipline. (See the information under “Language Requirements.”) Written certification of foreign language proficiency must be received by the Department before students will be allowed to schedule their examinations.
  3. Completion of one intensive or two regular Ph.D. minors. (All minors must be completed and certified in writing by the appropriate departments before students take their qualifying exams.)
  4. Completion of all required courses and credit hours. (C501/C502 must be satisfactorily completed before students will be permitted to begin their exam sequences; all other course work must be completed and all incompletes in courses counting toward the major or minors must be removed before students may take their qualifying exams).

The Dissertation

A dissertation is required and is graded under C810 or G901. The number of credits granted under C810 varies since the credits should bring the student’s total hours to 90. Only one credit hour of C810 or G901 is required for acceptance of the dissertation; no more than 25 credit hours of dissertation research may be included in the minimum of 90 credit hours required for the doctoral degree. The grade of “R” is automatically awarded for work on the dissertation until it is defended and accepted.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is an oral examination held after the dissertation has been completed but before it is bound. The student must arrange the time and date of this defense with the dissertation director and the members of his or her committee at least five weeks in advance. Any member of the Graduate School faculty at Indiana University may attend the defense, but usually only the student’s committee is present. A summary of no less than 150 words (maximum: one double-spaced, typed page) must be submitted to the Comparative Literature Graduate Studies Office. The announcement should be informative and contain a brief statement of the principal results and conclusions. It must be approved and signed by the dissertation director, and must be submitted to the Graduate School thirty days prior to the defense.



To fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D. minor, students are expected to complete successfully (i.e., with a grade of B- or better) at least four courses in Comparative Literature, including C501, “Introduction to Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature.” Since most courses carry four credits, a minor will usually amount to taking between twelve and fifteen credit hours. Students may arrange for an independent reading course (C604) with the approval of the Graduate Advisor; such a course must carry a minimum of three credits. Students must also demonstrate a fluent reading knowledge of at least one foreign (non-native) language.

The choice of courses should be made either with the idea of supporting areas of special interest in the student’s major or with a view to a reasonable degree of coherence within the area of comparative literary studies. To plan their Department courses, students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies of the Comparative Literature Department as soon as they have decided to take a minor in the field. Detailed descriptions of Comparative Literature course offerings are available on line and from the Office by the beginning of the preregistration period for any given semester or summer session.

Comparative Literature graduate faculty are encouraged to file written evaluations of a student’s performance. These evaluations are available for the student’s inspection on personal request.

An examination in the minor is not required; but a member of the Comparative Literature faculty must serve on the student’s dissertation committee, unless this requirement is waived by the Department.

All inquiries about a minor in Comparative Literature should be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies.



Jointly administered by the departments of English and Comparative Literature, the minor requires a minimum of three courses, including one selected from Group I and one from Group II. An intensive minor in Literary Theory requires a minimum of six courses, including two selected from Group I and two from Group II. Remaining courses may come from Groups I, II, or III. Courses not listed below may qualify, but require written approval in advance; consult with the Graduate Advisor in English or Comparative Literature.


C503 Topics in World Criticism and Theory I
C504 Topics in World Criticism and Theory II
C601 Studies in the History and Theory of Criticism
C602 Contemporary Theoretical Issues and Approaches


L605 Contemporary Approaches to Literature
L607 History of Literary Criticism to the Enlightenment
L608 History of Literary Criticism from 1750 to 1960
G660 Stylistics
L707 Studies in Literary Theory and Criticism


French and Italian (F564) Issues in Literary Theory
French and Italian (F584) Stylistics and Semantics
French and Italian (F647) Contemporary French Theory and Criticism
Germanic Studies (G505) New Literary Theory and the German Text
Slavic Languages and Literature (R598) Literary Theory in its Russian and East European Context
Spanish and Portuguese (S473) Hispanic Literature and Literary Theory
Spanish and Portuguese (S512) Theory and Criticism
Theatre and Drama (T555) Drama Theory I
Theatre and Drama (T556) Drama Theory II



The Certificate in Literary Translation provides students with certification of a successfully completed course of study in the practice and theory of literary translation. As an addition to an M.A. or Ph.D. qualification, the certificate offers a clear strength to students going on the job market.

Course Requirements

The Certificate in Literary Translation comprises 22-24 credits. These must include: C580 (History and Theory of Translation); C581 (Workshop in Literary Translation) plus one other translation workshop; and three further relevant courses in either Comparative Literature or one of the foreign language departments, consisting either of graduate-level literature courses using original-language texts (documentation of this is required) or advanced courses (300 level or above) in the language itself.

Program of Study

Students intending to complete the Certificate in Literary Translation should inform the chair of the Translation Studies Committee and the Graduate Studies Office, who in turn, will maintain a record of the student’s progress. Each student will plan out a coherent program of study in consultation with the Translation Studies Committee. Approval for coursework intended to fulfill certificate requirements must be obtained in advance from the Committee.

Language Requirements

Expert knowledge of English and one foreign language.

Translation Project

The student is required to present a substantial translation project, approved by an advisor who in turn has been approved by the Translation Studies Committee. The project will consist of the translation of a literary or scholarly work or works into English, accompanied by an essay explicating theoretical and/or practical issues salient in the translation process. Though the scope of the project will be negotiated among the student, the advisor, and the Translation Studies Committee, the translation and essay together will typically be around 40-60 pages in length. A student revising a translation originally prepared to satisfy the workshop requirements may receive up to three credits for the revisions and introductory essay. If the Translation Project is completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. guidelines for the M.A. project/thesis pertain.

Translation Studies Committee

A three-to four-member Translation Studies Committee appointed by the Chair of Comparative Literature oversees the coordination of the ongoing coursework, requirements, standards, and evaluations associated with the Certificate in Literary Translation. The committee evaluates the Translation Project, consulting when necessary with the student’s advisor and with other faculty members both inside and outside Comparative Literature faculty.