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The MA programme explores three main areas: themes, genres, movements and major literary figures; the interactions and exchanges between national literary traditions; and the theory and practice of comparative literature. These complementary strands encourage comparative analysis in a variety of contexts, ranging from the study of national literatures to the exploration of different genres, periods, media and literary theory.
The programme is offered by the Department of Comparative Literature and benefits from staff expertise in a range of areas, including European modernism, postmodernism, postcolonial literature, literature and medicine, literature and sexuality, literature and psychoanalysis and literature and the visual arts. Our programme also draws on additional expertise in the School of European Culture and Languages, particularly from colleagues in the Department of Modern Languages.
You begin by studying a choice of four modules across the Autumn and Spring terms, before writing a 12,000-word dissertation over the summer, supervised by an expert in the department.
The MA in Comparative Literature is an ideal programme for those wanting to engage in and pursue detailed literary and cultural analysis that crosses national boundaries.
You are more than your grades
For 2022, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) or equivalent in a relevant subject (eg, Comparative Literature, English, Modern Languages, Classics, and other related disciplines).
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
This module is designed to familiarise students with the history of Comparative Literature as an academic discipline, to develop their ability to analyse critically the major conceptions of Comparative Literature that have emerged over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and to enable them to apply theories of Comparative Literature in the analysis of literary movements, literary genres, literary topoi, and literary figures who recur at different moments in literary history.
Students will begin by studying a range of major conceptions of Comparative Literature, and will consider the implications for the discipline of Comparative Literature of theories of globalisation, multiculturalism, translation studies, and world literature. They will then proceed to analyse selected literary works within the framework of these conceptions of Comparative Literature. The module will therefore combine a theoretical with a practical literary-critical dimension, encouraging close reading and an appreciation of historical context in the analysis of theoretical and literary texts.
Theoretical interest in the fantastic has increasingly developed over recent decades following the acclaimed seminal study by Todorov, The Fantastic (1973). Students will explore major works of the genre from several European countries in conversation with a range of critical perspectives (such as discourse theory, narrative theories, and psychoanalytical theory). The comparative nature of the module will also afford an opportunity to enhance understanding of the literatures and specific texts studied in their respective cultural contexts.
By studying literary works in conjunction with economic and sociological theory, this module investigates the manifold ways in which literary texts may reflect and/or critique the social, political, and economic contexts in which they were produced. Proceeding chronologically from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, we shall analyse literary texts that engage with the psycho-social consequences of capitalism in its various manifestations. Topics of enquiry include the socio-political and psychological repercussions of industrialization, bureaucratization, globalization and neoliberalism and how these have been theorized and represented aesthetically, as well as questions pertaining to alienation and disenchantment, the rationalization of everyday life, work ethics, burnout, the psychology of consumption, and broader ethical issues relating to the tension between economic self-interest and communal values. Theoretical works we will study on this module include extracts from Marx, Weber, and Simmel, as well as texts by Adorno, Hardt and Negri, Sennett, Boltanski and Chiapello, Klein, Ehrenberg and Crary.
We live, it is often said, in the 'age of affect'. Paradoxically, since Fredric Jameson's dictum on 'the waning of affect' in postmodern times, there has been a burgeoning surge of interest in our affects and emotions that has touched most academic disciplines as well as the general public. But a look at the historiography of affect shows that the current interest in our feelings and their cultural transformations, and with it the transformations of their often restrictive codes of representation, has been ongoing since the age of Romanticism at least. When we now speak of the 'emotional turn’, we tend to forget that in 1882 the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche already complained about the absence of ‘a history of love, of avarice, of envy, of conscience, of piety, or of cruelty’; that in 1941 the French historian Lucien Febvre contemplated the relation between ‘sensibility and history’; and that in the 1980s the American Historian Peter Gay flirted, at least temporarily, with a concept he defined as ‘psycho-history’.
The aim of this module is to reflect on this longstanding debate by addressing the following questions: What is an emotion, and what is an affect? Do emotions and affects change over time in intensity, prevalence, and character, or do they essentially remain the same while it is our attitudes towards them that change? And, most importantly to us as students of comparative literature: where or what is the subject who feels, and how can we define the relation between his or her feelings and the manifold ways in which they are represented? Our discussion will be based on critical analysis of a range of literary and autobiographical works from the eighteenth century to the present (for example by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Emily Brontë, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Marguerite Duras, C.S. Lewis, and Roland Barthes). These works will be discussed in close conjunction with a selection of classic and contemporary theoretical texts (for example by: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ruth Leys, Helmuth Lethen, Martha Nussbaum, Amy Coplan, and Eugenie Brinkema). The module is structured according to the following three areas of inquiry: Love & Desire; Loss & Mourning; Guilt & Shame.
The topic of the dissertation will usually be based on, and develop from, work undertaken on one or more of the four coursework modules undertaken in the course of the MA. The dissertation must be comparative in nature, including an analysis of more than one work, from more than one national/linguistic tradition.
Assessment is by one 5,000-word essay for each module, and the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You gain the following transferable skills:
The 2022/23 UK fees for this course are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
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In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.
Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
Areas of particular research strength in Comparative Literature at Kent include the European avant-garde, modernism and postmodernism, postcolonial literature, literary theory, literature and medicine, literature and the visual arts, literature and sexuality, and literature and philosophy. The list below indicates the range of current research interests of members of staff within Comparative Literature and the other disciplines with whom we work closely.
Many of these staff are members of the Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture. They can supervise postgraduate students for the MA or PhD degrees in any of their respective areas of expertise. If you are considering applying to undertake a research degree, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your plans at an early stage of your application.
Many of the most significant European writers and literary movements of the modern period have traversed national, linguistic, and disciplinary borders. Co-directed by the departments of Comparative Literature and Modern Languages & Linguistics, the Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture aims to promote collaborative interdisciplinary research that can do justice to these kinds of border crossing. Ranging across English, French, German, Italian and Spanish literature, the Centre focuses in particular on the European avant-garde, European modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, the international reception of European writers, and the relations between modern European literature and the other arts, including painting, photography, film, music and architecture. The Centre’s activities include a lecture and seminar series and the regular organisation of conferences.
Founded in 2007, the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL) promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and subdisciplines of linguistics.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
A postgraduate qualification from the University of Kent opens up a wealth of career opportunities by providing an impressive portfolio of skills and specialist knowledge.
Comparative Literature graduates develop key skills, including critical thinking, analysis and problem solving. They go on to successful careers in areas such as the media, academia and many different cultural institutions including libraries, museums and galleries.
We also recommend that you take advantage of the expertise and knowledge available from our Careers and Employability Service, which provides a range of advice, guidance and opportunities to enhance your career.
Comparative Literature is part of the Division of Arts and Humanities which embraces other disciplines including: Classical & Archaeological Studies, English Literature Modern Languages and Linguistics, History, Architecture, Philosophy, Drama and Theatre, Film, Art History, Media Studies and Religious Studies. This means that students enrolled on a postgraduate programme in Comparative Literature can draw on the excellent resources of a diverse team of teachers with expertise in many areas.
The research interests of our staff are specifically comparativist in nature, and include the European avant-garde, modernism and postmodernism, postcolonial literature, literary theory, and the relationship between literature and the visual arts. In addition to the research expertise of our staff, all postgraduates in Comparative Literature benefit from the activities organised by the Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture. These include lectures by prestigious guest speakers, research seminars, conferences and a reading group.
The Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all our areas of research interest, with particular strengths in modern European literature. The Department provides high-quality IT facilities, with state-of-the art language laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Language-learning and translation facilities include eight all-purpose teaching rooms and two networked multimedia laboratories.
All postgraduate students have the opportunity to undertake both subject-specific training and an extensive postgraduate skills training programme provided by the Graduate and Researcher College.
Every year, a considerable number of native speakers of foreign languages follow our courses, and several European exchange students stay on to do graduate work. There are also foreign language lectors who are either combining teaching with a Kent higher degree or completing a dissertation for their home universities. We can assist with language-training needs for overseas postgraduates, particularly where English is concerned.
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Comparative Critical Studies; French Studies; Forum for Modern Language Studies; German Life and Letters; Modern Language Review.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.
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