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Doctoral Studies

World Languages & Cultures PhD

The PhD in World Languages & Cultures is available with a specialization in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS).
For more information about the program and courses offered, please visit the General Catalog.

Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies

The PhD emphasis in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) is characterized by its unique combination of depth and breadth — a combination that promotes innovative and illuminating intersections among diverse fields of study. All students must choose a minimum of two language/culture areas beyond English. Students with a European emphasis typically choose literature, culture, and theory seminars from at least two of the Department’s graduate focus areas (Spanish, French, and German). Strong offerings in Middle Eastern languages and literatures form another critical cluster. In addition, qualified students may tailor individualized programs of study that draw on faculty expertise in areas ranging from Japanese and Chinese literature to Russian and the classics, among others. All students will take theory and topic seminars taught in English that bring together overarching ideas from across the field. A heterogeneous approach to combining courses and topics is encouraged — an approach that continues in the student’s comprehensive examinations, independent research, and dissertation.

Recent graduate courses in CLCS: “The Sublime from Kant to Mishima, Murakami, and Kushner;” “Film, Popular Culture, and Psychoanalysis,” “The Idea of the Self East and West,” “Literary Translation,” and “Iran and the West”.

A University of Utah MA with an emphasis in CLCS or an equivalent degree from another University. In most cases, the candidate’s graduate and/or undergraduate transcripts must demonstrate substantial literary and theoretical course work in at least one of the language/culture areas emphasized by the University of Utah graduate program (French or Spanish). Significant deficiencies in this preparatory coursework (courses required for the University of Utah MA with CLCS emphasis) must be made up before admission to PhD-student status. For minor deficiencies, admission is possible but make-up courses may be added as additional requirements to those outlined below. In compelling cases, students with a different entrance profile (e.g. MA-level training in areas other than French and/or Spanish) may be considered for admission providing that the student is sufficiently trained in general literary theory and criticism and that their areas of interest can be accommodated by faculty within the Department of World Languages & Cultures.

Students must take a minimum of 10 courses beyond the MA CLCS emphasis. These courses normally include:

  1. At least three additional graduate-level courses listed under the CLCS catalog number in the Department of World Languages & Cultures. Students are encouraged to take seminars with a strong theoretical component.
  2. Seven graduate-level courses distributed over two of the language areas emphasized by the PhD Program. Normally five of these are taken in the student’s primary area of emphasis and two are taken in the secondary area; however, other distributions may be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  3. A minimum of 14 semester hours of thesis research (CLCS 7970).
  4. In compelling cases, graduate-level course work in areas other than those described above (for example, classes in other language areas within the Department; allied fields in which a graduate program is offered at the University of Utah) may be approved as areas of emphasis.
  5. PhD students must also take WLC 6410: L2 Methodologies (Fall) if they did not complete a similar course while studying for the MA. This course does not count toward the overall 10-course requirement for the PhD.
  6. PhD students who are also TFs (Teaching Fellows) must attend a week-long teacher-training session immediately before each Fall Semester.

WLC PhD Course of Study Worksheet

During the first semester of PhD studies, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), in conjunction with the CLCS Section Coordinator, will be the student's academic advisors. At the beginning of this semester, the student is to consult with and obtain the written approval of the DGS and the CLCS Section Coordinator, which will be placed in the student's departmental file for all coursework to be taken during that semester.  By March 1 of the student's first year (if matriculated in the Fall) or by October 15 (if matriculated in the Spring), the student will form a 5-member Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the DGS and the CLCS Coordinator.  From then on, the Chair of the Committee will be the student's advisor in planning her/his academic program and in preparation for the examinations, and will direct the student's work on the PhD dissertation.  Supervisory Committee members should include representatives from the department's CLCS faculty as well as from the language/literature areas and any allied field approved for emphasis.  At least one member of the Committee must be from outside World Languages & Cultures.

Students must prove advanced proficiency (defined by the department as the ability to do graduate work) in one language other than English.  PhD students specializing in European literature up to and including the Renaissance are required to demonstrate at least "Standard Proficiency" (defined by the Graduate School as 1020) in either Latin or Ancient Greek as a part of this language proficiency.

At, near, or shortly after the end of all coursework, the student will take both a written and an oral exam called the Qualifying Exam. The Qualifying Exam will consist of 3 questions drawn from several focus areas (e.g., a problem such as "the subject," "representation," "difference," "gender [and] identity," etc.; a literary period or genre; a theoretical direction such a psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, deconstruction, etc.). At least one question of the exam will reflect both of the student’s language/literature areas. The student will consult with the Supervisory Committee Chair to outline the general areas of the four questions. Several of the questions may be oriented toward the student's dissertation topic and may serve to connect what the student has learned from course work with the new research directions she or he expects to pursue in the dissertation.

Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, the student will submit for approval a dissertation prospectus to all members of the Supervisory Committee within a reasonable time frame to be determined by the Committee Chair. Upon approval of the prospectus, and in regular consultation with the Committee Chair (now referred to as the Dissertation Advisor), the student will write a doctoral dissertation that represents a substantial and original scholarly contribution to the field. Upon completion of the dissertation and preliminary approval by the Supervisory Committee, the candidate will present him- or herself for a public oral defense of the dissertation, which constitutes the "Final Exam."

For more information about the program and courses offered, please visit the General Catalog.

Last Updated: 6/5/24