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Comparative Literature as we understand it is the study of literature over time and across cultural and disciplinary boundaries. Reading literature is defined by us mostly as close reading, although in our engagement with the Digital Humanities we are open to distant reading, drawing on technical tools such as topic modelling etc. In comparing literary texts, however, we also rely heavily on a particular focus on cultural theories.
The MPhil in Comparative Literature works closely with other MPhils, such as the MPhil in Literary Translation or the MPhil in European Identities. Students of the MPhil will enrol in two core modules to be trained in the use of theory, criticism, and various possibilities of comparison ranging from the application of imagology to interdisciplinary approaches. These core modules are then complemented by two option modules with more specific literary and cultural content.
Students will be trained in the following areas:

  1. Comparative and interdisciplinary research skills
  2. An understanding of key terminology (intertextuality, influence, magical realism, etc.)
  3. Applying cultural and philosophical theories to literary texts
  4. An understanding of literary and cultural histories
  5. An understanding of debates surrounding comparative literature and world literature
  6. Reading literature in English translation but also in other languages. Ideally the knowledge of languages other than English is desired for this MPhil, although it is not a prerequisite.

Some of the cultural theories we engage with include but are not limited to texts by Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze/Felix Guattari, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, etc.
The content of this programme draws on expertise by staff from the departments of the School but also on people from outside of the School and Trinity.