Duke the Program In Literature

Graduate Studies Introduction

The Graduate Program in Literature (GPL) at Duke has as its goal the education of men and women who will be qualified to teach in departments of national literatures, cultural studies, feminist studies, and interdisciplinary programs. The Program is not comparatist in the traditional sense but theoretical in focus, dedicated to the understanding of cultural history and the reshaping of literary studies in the context of contemporary thought. The immense social and geopolitical changes that have occurred in the last few decades have affected the organization of the traditional disciplines, altered the status of the arts in Western cultures, and challenged Western aesthetic values with global concerns. Destabilizing the traditional concept of literature has seriously brought into question not only the canons of approved works, but the very nature of literary text as an isolatable aesthetic object.

The GPL acknowledges the challenges posed by the emergence of non-Western literatures and also by the increasing importance of non-canonical, "marginal" or oppositional cultures within the West. The GPL encourages theoretical, reflective work in the fields of contemporary theories or approaches - feminism, Marxism, cultural criticism, discourse analysis, reader-response theory, the analysis of power and of the social function of ritual and symbolic action - the GPL stresses the historicity of such discourses and the cultural phenomena they set out to investigate. Our courses also register the increasing significance in the academy of theoretical developments in cultural theory and film theory, as well as other media such as art and architecture. The GPL is committed to a contemporary conception of culture and cultural production, and encourages students to explore the connections between literary study and innovations in other disciplines - anthropology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, art history, religious studies, the history and philosophy of science, law - which already share some of literature's investment in narrativity, structure, communication and interpretation.

To ensure the viability of its students in the teaching profession, the GPL requires its students to maintain, in effect, a double specialization, the first in "literature" as a broad theoretical inquiry, the second in a national literature or, more rarely, in comparative literature. Along with appropriate teaching experience, this double specialization increases the flexibility of our students to provide them with a solid disciplinary base for their inquiries and to respond to the needs of the academic job market. The GPL seeks, above all, to develop critical and independent thought combined with solid training in research, and to allow each student, within these parameters, to construct his or her own program. Its academic goals are supplemented and enhanced by our own Undergraduate Program in Literature, the Program in Film and Video, and the Duke Center for Critical Theory, which offers annual conferences, special brief seminars and lectures by international scholars and thinkers, Marxism and Society Program, both an undergraduate certificate and a lecture series, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory, which fosters intellectual exchange on issues relating to the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The Graduate Program in Literature is a doctoral program, which means that all students enrolled prepare for the Ph.D. degree. The program does not grant M.A. degrees along the way nor does it grant terminal M.A.s to students who leave the program before having completed the Ph.D. 

Welcome to our incoming graduate students for Fall 2013:

Bennett Carpenter, Univ. of Leiden

Annu Dahiya,  Rutgers University

Jaime Gonzalez, Univ. of California~ Riverside

Chase Gregory, Tufts University

Yair Rubinstein, Univ. of Washington

Jacob Soule, Univ. of Cambridge


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