Comparative Literature and Classics

Comparative Literature and Classics

Applicants to the combined program must indicate on their application that they are applying both to the departments of Comparative Literature and Classics. All documentation within the application should include this information.

Course work

Students concentrating in Comparative Literature and Classics are required to complete fourteen graduate term courses (plus the Classics proseminar). In Classics, at least seven courses, including the Classics proseminar and four courses (two yearlong sequences) in the history of Greek and Latin literature (usually taken in successive years, each to be followed by the respective oral in that field) and two 800-level Classics seminars (generally taken in each term of the third year). In Comparative Literature, the departmental proseminar and at least five further Comparative Literature courses, including at least four courses in postclassical European literature. The course work across the two programs should also include at least two courses in literary theory or methodology, and at least one course each in poetry, narrative fiction, and drama. At least two courses, excluding directed readings, need to receive the grade of Honors. At least thirteen of the fifteen required courses are to be taken in the first two years; the last two, which must be Classics 800-level seminars, are to be taken in the third year, normally one in each term.


To assess each student’s proficiency and progress in both key languages, two sight translation examinations each in Greek and Latin (taken before the beginning of the first and third terms). During the first two years, literary proficiency, demonstrated in course work, in Greek, Latin, and English, as well as reading proficiency in German and one other modern language (usually French).


Classics: Oral examinations in Greek and Latin literature, based on the Classics Ph.D. reading list. These are to be taken closely following the surveys in the respective literatures, as follows: the first, at the end of the second term (May of the first year), the second at the end of the fourth term (May of the second year). By the end of the fifth term, translation examinations in Greek and Latin literature, based on the Classics Ph.D. reading list.

Comparative Literature: oral examination (six topics appropriate to both disciplines, balancing a range of kinds of topics and including poetry, narrative fiction, and drama, and at least one significant cluster of postclassical texts), to be taken by the middle of the sixth term. Lists will be worked out with individual examiners, primarily under the guidance of the Comparative Literature DGS, but also with the approval of the Classics DGS. One of the topics studied will be relevant to the student’s planned dissertation topic.

Prospectus and Dissertation

The prospectus must be approved by the DGS in each department (and by the Comparative Literature prospectus committee) by the end of the sixth term in residence. At least one dissertation director must come from the Comparative Literature core faculty. At the end of each term, each dissertation student will presubmit, then discuss their work in progress in a Classics “chapter colloquium” discussion with interested faculty.