Comparative Literature at Kent offers an excellent environment for the postgraduate study of literature beyond national and linguistic borders. The programme involves the study of literature from two or more national and linguistic traditions, allowing you to gain an intercultural and transnational understanding of diverse cultural and literary practices.
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 programme can also be studied in Canterbury and Paris, where you relocate to Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture for the spring term.
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.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- several key periods in modern European literature, based on a critical study of the relevant literature and literary theory
- the applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry in comparative literature, in particular through an engagement with questions of genre, the concept of literary movements, literary theory, and literature’s relation to other discourses (including psychoanalysis and philosophy)
- the ability to conceptualise, design and implement the final project (dissertation).
You develop intellectual skills in:
- listening attentively to complex presentations, using your powers of analysis and imagination
- reading carefully a variety of technical and non-technical material
- using libraries effectively
- reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources
- marshalling a complex body of texts
- remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- constructing cogent arguments in the evaluation of this material.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to understand and analyse complex literary and theoretical material
- the ability to read literature in a comparative context
- the ability to differentiate between the formal implications of differing genres (ie poetry, prose, drama, photography, painting, and film) and to respond to the differing problems of these genres and media
- the ability to situate literary and theoretical texts in their socio-historical context.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- working with others: participating in seminar discussions, responding to the views of others and to criticisms of your own views without giving or taking offence, engaging in independent group work, including the running of the graduate seminar
- language skills: discussing complex material in English and (where possible) in the language(s) of original composition
- communication: producing focused and cogent written work, giving oral presentations, using visual aids where appropriate
- problem-solving: identifying problems, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions, defending your own solutions with cogent arguments
- improving your learning: identifying your strengths and weaknesses, assessing the quality of your own work, managing your time and meeting deadlines, learning to work independently
- using information technology: using online information sources, word-processing essays, using email for receiving and responding to communications.
This programme aims to:
- provide you with the knowledge and skills to prepare you for the academic study of comparative literature at MPhil/PhD level
- attract outstanding students, irrespective of race, background, gender, or physical disability from within the UK
- further the University’s International Strategy by attracting graduate students from abroad as well as from the UK
- enable you to begin to specialise in your areas of interest
- enable you to hone your ability to read literature and literary theory critically and comparatively
- provide you, consistent with point one above, with a transition from undergraduate study to independent research
- provide you with a training that will culminate, if followed through to PhD level, in the ability to submit articles to refereed journals in comparative literature.