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.