Ph.D Program

Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature

Our doctoral students are supported by a large group of core and affiliated faculty in Comparative Literature. Our faculty hold cross-appointments with the departments of East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, French and Italian, German and Russian, Middle East/South Asian Languages, and Religious Studies. The program actively collaborates with interdisciplinary programs in critical theory, the digital humanities, science and technology studies, cinema and media, and performance studies. We work closely with our students to ensure they get the intellectual and professional training needed to succeed in their careers. The program mentors graduate students as both teachers and emerging scholars, and we have a strong placement record both within and outside the academy. 

Core faculty research areas

  • Classical Arabic literature
  • Classical and modern Persian literature
  • Pre-modern Indian literature
  • Chinese literature and film
  • Medieval and early modern French
  • Reception studies
  • European romanticism
  • Latin American literature
  • Jewish studies
  • Italian modernism
  • Modern Japanese literature and culture
  • Twentieth-Century American fiction
  • Contemporary Arabic poetry
  • Contemporary European poetry/poetics
  • Pre-modern, early modern, and modern drama
  • History of aesthetics
  • Political economy
  • Psychoanalysis and trauma theory
  • Religion and performance
  • Translation studies

Designated emphases

In conjunction with the PhD, we offer designated emphases in critical theory, feminist theory and research, classics and classical receptions, Native American studies, African American & African studies, second language acquisition, studies in performance and practice, as well as writing, rhetoric, and composition studies.


We guarantee six years of support to students who make continued satisfactory progress towards the degree. UC Davis offers a number of competitive fellowships that provide year-long teaching releases in the first year and at the dissertation stage. Our students have also been successful at securing outside fellowships.

Admission requirements

We look for students with strong potential for comparative research and teaching, and a commitment to the interpretive analysis of cultural forms. Our graduate students come from a wide range of cultural and intellectual backgrounds. Please see Comparative Literature Graduate Admissions for deadlines and application requirements.