Comparative Literary Studies Graduate Program

The program in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern provides students with rigorous training in several literary traditions, critical theory, and the methodology of comparative literature.

All students admitted to the CLS program at Northwestern have also a “home” in another department. The purpose of placing students in a "home department" is twofold:  the departments provide professional training and accreditation in widely recognized fields of scholarship; and they prepare comparative literature students for academic positions in these fields. Departments currently functioning as "home departments" for graduate students in the CLS Program are: Classics, English (including interest in African American literature), French and Italian, German, Slavics (especially Russian and Polish), Spanish and Portuguese , Middle East and North Africa, Philosophy, RTVF and Rhetoric and Public Culture.

Students are generally accepted with five years of support, two of which are in the form of fellowships;  they also receive support for four summers.  Under a fellowship there is no teaching.  In general students take their fellowships in the first year and then again at the beginning of the dissertation work.  There are three basic forms of teaching in which students participate in teaching our undergraduate:  assisting with a class taught by a CLS faculty member or faculty from a related department; participating in language instruction (usually but not always the language of the “home department”); teaching a small seminar of one’s own.  The mix of teaching depends on a number of factors, most especially each individual student’s evolving academic profile; but it generally includes all three of these forms.

CLS and the Graduate School provide students with funds for conference travel; CLS also organizes faculty/graduate students colloquia in which graduate students present their work, as well as many lectures, conferences, and colloquia (some organized by graduate students). CLS maintains a regular program of professional development within which students are brought into contact with faculty members, university press editors, and fellowship consultants who discuss a wide variety of contemporary issues in the study of literature and culture.

Literary Events at Northwestern

Latest News

Congratulations to Brett Brehm for successfully defending his dissertation, entitled "Kaleidophonic Modernity: Sound, City, Technology."


Congratulations to Kritish Rajbhandari for winning the Beiling Wu Prize in Writing for 2014. The Beiling Wu Prize is named for a former Northwestern graduate student in the humanities and is awarded to a doctoral student who wrote the best essay on literature or literary culture in the first year of his/her program.


Jennifer Croft (2013 CLS PhD) has been awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts for an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship. Jennifer is one of 20 recommended fellows for 2015. The NEA supports the new translation of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from 12 different languages into English. Congratulations Jennifer!



Congratulations to Jennifer Cazenave (2011 CLS PhD) for accepting a two-year post-doctoral teaching position in French at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.



Congratulations to Stanley Bill (2013 CLS PhD) for accepting a position as Lecturer in Polish Studies in the Slavonic Studies Department at Cambridge University (UK).


Congratulations to Jennifer Croft and Stanley Bill for successfully defending their dissertations.  Jennifer's dissertation was entitled, Agnostic Honor, Agnostic Impotence: The Duels in 20th-Century Literature, while Stanley's dissertation was entitled, Crisis in the Christian Dialectic: Czeslaw Milosz Reads William Blake and Fydor Dostoevsky for a Secular Age.


Congratulations to Anna Glazova, CLS PhD, for winning the highly prestigious Andrey Beliy award for her new volume of poems. Anna is currently a scholar in residence at Rutgers University