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For more information contact

Director of Graduate Studies
Literature Program
Duke University
Box 90670
Durham, NC  27708-0670
(919) 684-4233 or 684-4127


General Information

Degree offered:
Ph.D., JD/MA (Note: Applicants interested in the JD/MA will make application to the Law School rather than to the Graduate School)
Faculty working with students:
Students receiving Financial Aid:
Part time study available:
Test required:
GRE General: Optional for 2021
Application Deadlines

Program Description

The Graduate Program in Literature (GPL) endeavors to train future scholars in theory and global culture. Originally conceived as a critical expansion of "comparative literature" beyond its founding Eurocentrism and its (near) exclusive focus on literature and language, the GPL hosts a robust range of scholarship and teaching in a variety of areas, ranging from feminist and gender studies to political theory and Marxism, from psychoanalysis to cognitive studies and neuroscience, from philosophy of language and experimental literature to media studies in the digital age, and from global cinema and film theory to visual culture and postcolonial studies. The program defines itself through its diverse investment in theory and is dedicated to understanding literary and cultural history as a complex and evolving exchange between the past and the (future-oriented) present.

The immense geopolitical changes of the last decades have challenged the logic of the traditional disciplines, altered the status of the arts, and interrogated classical aesthetic values. With its broad and open-ended embrace of global cultural objects and processes, the GPL seeks to theorize the cultural upheaval of recent times in all of its contemporary richness.  By questioning the traditional conception of literature as a privileged cultural domain, and of the literary text as an isolatable aesthetic object, the GPL adopts a "post-textualist" approach to culture - including literature - that engages the profusion of diverse modes of production across received boundaries. We encourage our students to explore the connections between theory and innovations in other disciplines - anthropology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, art history, film and media, gender and sexuality studies, religious studies, the history and philosophy of science and technology, law - that share an investment in narrativity, structure, communication, and interpretation.


Other Requirements

The submission of a writing sample (nonreturnable, limited to 15-25 pages) is required.  It should be a photocopy of an essay (nonfiction), preferably a critical or scholarly essay submitted as an academic requirement in a course in literature.  The writing sample should be uploaded in the Departmental Requirements section of the application.


Spring Application