Comparative Literature (PhD)

Department Website

Program Description

In the Department of Comparative Literature, we examine the range of literature, its transmission, and its dynamic traversal of linguistic, geographic, cultural, political, and disciplinary boundaries. Our students adopt a global perspective and interdisciplinary outlook as they pursue work in various languages, traditions and academic fields. Faculty members offer courses embracing the ancient and modern periods of world literature, exploring critical, theoretical, and historical issues, as well as problems of representation in the broadest sense. This type of analysis expands the field of literature to include a wide variety of cultural practices — from historical, philosophical, and legal texts to artifacts of visual and popular culture — revealing the roles literature plays as a form of material expression and symbolic exchange. Admitting an average of six fully-funded students a year into its doctoral program, the department provides an intimate intellectual setting in which students work closely with core faculty while exploring the considerable resources offered by other NYU departments and by universities participating in the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (Columbia University, CUNY, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Stonybrook, Teachers' College - Columbia, Fordham University, and The New School for Social Research). 

Graduate students play a vital role in the life of the department, notably through the organization of the Comparatorium, a regular colloquium featuring graduate student and faculty work in progress, and through organizing and participating in conferences which attract the participation of graduate students and faculty from across the nation and around the world. Recent conferences hosted by the department include "On Limits" (A. Kiarina Kordela, keynote speaker), “Lucretius and Modernity” (Catherine Wilson, keynote speaker), “Anachronic Shakespeare” (Samuel Weber, keynote speaker), “Posthuman Antiquities” (Adriana Cavarero and Claudia Baracchi, keynote speakers), “Re-Mediating the Archive: Image, Word, Performance,” and “On Reproduction” (Étienne Balibar, keynote speaker). In 2014, the department hosted the ACLA conference, “Capitals” (Judith Butler, plenary address). Graduate Certificate in Poetics and Theory symposia have provided publication opportunities for graduate students including Flirtations: Rhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction, ed. Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Barbara Natalie Nagel, and Lauren Shizuko Stone (Fordham University Press, 2015), and Lucretius and Modernity, ed. Jacques Lezra and Liza Blake (Palgrave, 2016).


All applicants to the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) are required to submit the general application requirements, which include:

See Comparative Literature for admission requirements and instructions specific to this program.