Harvard’s Department of Comparative Literature is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country. Its impressive faculty has included such scholars as Harry Levine, Claudio Guillén, and Barbara Johnson. You will study literatures from a wide range of historical periods and cultures, while learning to conduct cutting-edge research through an exhilarating scope of methods and approaches.
Your dissertation research is well supported by Harvard’s unparalleled library system, the largest university collection in the world, comprising 70 libraries with combined holdings of over 16 million items.
Recent student dissertations include “Imagined Mothers: The Construction of Italy, Ancient Greece, and Anglo-American Hegemony,” “The Untimely Avant-Garde: Literature, Politics and Transculturation in the Sinosphere (1909-2020),” and “Artificial Humanities: A Literary Perspective on Creating and Enhancing Humans from Pygmalion to Cyborgs.”
In addition to securing faculty positions at academic institutions such as Princeton University, Emory University, and Tufts University, graduates have gone on to careers in contiguous fields including the visual arts, music, anthropology, philosophy, and medicine while others have chosen alternative careers in film production, administration, journalism, and law.
Please review GSAS admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of Comparative Literature.
A writing sample is required as part of the application and can be a paper written for a course or a section of a senior thesis or essay and between 15 and 20 pages in length. The writing sample should demonstrate your ability to engage in literary criticism and/or theory. Do not upload longer papers with instructions to read an excerpt; lengthier samples should be edited so that they are no longer than 20 pages.
Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose should give the admissions committee a clear sense of your individual interests and strengths. Applicants are not required to indicate a precise field of specialization, but it is helpful to tell us about your aspirations and how the Department of Comparative Literature might help in attaining these goals. The statement of purpose should be 1 to 4 pages in length.