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M.A. in Comparative Literature

The M.A. in Comparative Literature is aimed at providing students with a solid basis in the discipline of comparative literature, and advanced training in at least two national literatures, languages, and cultures. At the end of four semesters, students must demonstrate a competency in at least two foreign languages as well as in English. Latin is required for students specializing in European and/or American literatures before 1800. Competence in the languages offered is measured either by the successful completion of one advanced course in the literature of each of the languages chosen or by passing an examination administered by the program in comparative literature with the assistance of an expert in the language concerned. This choice is intended to provide for languages that may not be taught in regular departments.

M.A. Requirements

The requirements for Master of Arts in Comparative Literature: http://catalog.illinois.edu/graduate/graduate-majors/comparative-literature/#masterstext

M.A. Examinations

In the fourth semester of study, students shall take a Master’s exam consisting of 3 parts. Each part is written by one of the three-member committee, at least one of whom must be of the core faculty (link to main faculty page) in CWL. The three parts are normally completed within a month:

  1. A critical theory exam based on materials covered in CWL 501-502 and the student’s area of specialization, covering several different critical approaches (4 hours in length). The reading list shall consist of 20 works divided into 4 categories and selected in consultation with the examiner. The exam consists of three or four essay questions covering various aspects of the reading list. The student chooses only two questions and answers them in a coherent essay of no less than five double-spaced pages each (2 hours per question).
  2. A period exam in the major literature (4 hours in length), based on a reading list of 20-25 works. The exam consists of two parts. First, two or three essay questions on any aspects of the reading list. The student chooses only one question and answers it in a coherent essay of no less than five double-spaced pages (2 hours). Second, a passage in the original language, chosen by the examiner from any single work on the reading list, which the student explicates in no less than four double-spaced pages. The passage can be in the form of a short poem or a prose passage of about 500-700 words, and it should be sufficiently rich to allow for a nuanced analysis that draws out not only the specific features of the passage and the work to which it belongs, but also general characteristics of the period and the literary or cultural tradition in question, showing “the universe in a grain of sand” (2 hours).
  3. A period exam in the first minor literature (2 hours in length), based on a reading list of 15-20 works. The exam consists of a passage in the original language, chosen by the examiner from any single work on the reading list, which the student explicates in no less than four double-spaced pages. The passage can be in the form of a short poem or a prose passage of about 500-700 words, and it should be sufficiently rich to allow for a nuanced analysis that draws out not only the specific features of the passage and the work to which it belongs, but also general characteristics of the period and the literary or cultural tradition in question, showing “the universe in a grain of sand.”

M.A. Equivalency Exams

The student who enters the Program with a recognized M.A. degree in a literary field may choose to take the Master’s equivalency exams rather than sit for another formal M.A. degree. The M.A. equivalent exams are normally taken at the end of the second semester:

  1.  A critical theory exam as described above.
  2. A period exam in the minor literature, NOT the major field of study for the previous M.A. degree, (2 hours in length), based on a reading list of 15-20 works. See description of the minor literature exam above.

For further details, please see The Program in Comparative & World Literature Graduate Handbook:http://www.complit.illinois.edu/graduate/handbook