Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature

At Western University, the graduate program in Comparative Literature offers:

Comparative literature at Western

Comparative Literature is the study of literature and other cultural expressions across boundaries. These boundaries can be linguistic, medial and, in a general sense, cultural. The discipline’s uniqueness lies in training young scholars to define their own spheres and critical perspectives between and among traditional disciplines and schools of critical thought, and in establishing wide inter- and trans-disciplinary networks. At Western, the Comparative Literature Program promotes modes of literary research and instruction that are international and multilingual.

Building on the early successes of our undergraduate program (from the mid-80s on), the Master’s program in Comparative Literature started in 1995 and the Ph.D. one in 2002. The ties between our graduate and undergraduate programs are very strong.

Both the Masters and the Ph.D. programs are flexible, as they accommodate a wide variety of individual emphases on literature and culture, along with critical theory and multimediality. The dominant focus of the faculty’s research and teaching lies within the scope of European and American cultures, but Asian and Middle-Eastern cultures are represented as well. Students are encouraged to take courses outside of the program, especially courses devoted to non-English literatures in the original.

Outstanding Faculty

While the program is housed in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, our core faculty involves professors from the Departments of English, French, Classical Studies, Film Studies, and other departments. The research interests of faculty members include: Medieval and Renaissance studies, Baroque, Enlightenment and Romanticism (17th-19th centuries), Twentieth-century literature and culture, Critical theory (aesthetic, sociocultural, psychoanalytic, linguistic), Postcolonial theory, Philosophy and literature, Gender studies, Text-image relations International cinema, Central and East European studies, and Transatlantic studies. Core faculty have been initiators in a number of national and international scholarly organizations that reflect interdisciplinary interests, including The Canadian Comparative Literature Association, The Canadian Society of Mediaevalists/Société Canadienne des Mediévalistes (SCM), and The North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR); the latter two both having been founded at Western.

 An Intensive Research Focus
Students are encouraged to bring their research interests into focus early, while at the same time broadening their horizons through an individual program of course work and examinations. Because our students' research outcomes are a high priority for us, students in both the MA and PhD programs develop the thesis prospectus early in their studies.

Stimulating Teaching Experiences
During our program we offer teaching assistantships. Depending on their background, interest and career goals students may have the opportunity to teach a tutorial for a large introductory undergraduate class, a section of an introductory language course or even teach an upper year course of their own design. We mentor and support the students’ growth as teacher’s through a number of programs. A good number of our graduates from the Doctoral program hold teaching positions at post-secondary level

Collegial Community
In addition to informal discussion- and study groups, students in the program organize a graduate conference each year ( The topics of the latest annual conferences, organized as usual in collaboration with students from the Graduate program in Hispanic Studies, and, more recently, from the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, were “trans- & trance” (the seventeenth annul conference, 2015) (, “Brevity” (2014) (, and “Good Laugh, Bad Laugh, Ugly Laugh, My Laugh” (2013) (
Our students help run a Comparative Literature Research Forum, whose weekly meetings feature presentations by students, lively discussions, coffee and nibbles.
They are also engaged in many research groups from Romanticism@Western to Transatlantic Research Group.

This Fall our Graduate Students’ journal will be launched. Keep an eye to the first flight of The Scattered Pelican (

Extraordinary Resources

Also at Western, The Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism offers a graduate program for the study of critical theory that brings together a wide range of perspectives in the humanities and social sciences. Comparative Literature students may take one or two courses offered by the Theory Centre as part of their programs. They can participate in workshops and discussion groups offered by the Centre and are encouraged to attend lectures by distinguished visiting speakers that it sponsors in the areas of literary and critical theory.

For further information about any aspect of the program, please contact:
The Graduate Chair, Comparative Literature
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Phone: (519) 661-2111, ext.85862/Fax: (519) 661-4093
E-Mail: Prof. James Miller,