Recruiting for the Academic Year  2015-2016

The PhD program in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University is actively recruiting students who have received a BA or MA in Comparative Literature, in another national literary tradition, or in an allied area of study.  Comparative Literature is an interdisciplinary doctoral program that encourages students to approach literary studies from multiple perspectives.  A flexible core curriculum grounded in the history of literary criticism and theory prepares students for careers as scholar teachers.  With the guidance of a highly accomplished faculty, students develop their own degree plans and research agendas meant to combine the study of literature, theory, language, philosophy, art, history, music, geography, anthropology, and other cultural manifestations.
The program’s core-faculty members teach in such well-considered LSU departments as English, French Studies, Foreign Languages & Literatures, Philosophy & Religious Studies, History, Music and Dramatic Arts, Art History, and Landscape Architecture.  The Program regularly hosts conferences (SCLA, ALSCW) and speakers from around the world.  The recent National Research Council evaluation ranked Comparative Literature at LSU quite favorably. The LSU PhD Program in Comparative Literature is a member of the consortium of the Harvard Institute for World Literature and an Institutional Member of the American Comparative Literature Association and the Modern Language Association.  Recent graduates have found academic positions in colleges and universities.

Degree Requirements:
Students apply directly to the PhD program. They must demonstrate a competency in at least one national literary tradition other than their native language at the time they apply.  They design their own program of study in consultation with their Major Professor, Advisory Committee, and the Program Director.  Those who have completed the BA with qualifications in specific disciplines have the option of completing an MA in English, French Studies, Hispanic Studies or Philosophy, or any other approved field during the course of their studies.  They also acquire competency in a third language and literary tradition.
Assistantships and Fellowships are available.  Our website contains detailed information about the program.  To apply consult the LSU Graduate School website at You may also contact the Director of the Program at if you have specific questions.  


Comparative Literature Support Fund

 Three years ago, Gaines M. Foster, Dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, set up an account with the LSU Foundation to support research activities for Comparative Literature PhD students. In November 2013, two of our benefactors, John Turner and Jerry Fischer, hosted a fundraising event in their home overlooking the University Lakes. Mr. Thomas A. Russo and his wife, Georgina Tugwell Russo, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania donated $5000 as a challenge grant. Poet and novelist David Huddle, Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont, read from his work. We were able to raise $16,600 that evening through the generosity of our numerous supporters. This fall, thanks to the generosity of new and former supporters, we reached our $20,000 goal, the minimum sum necessary for an endowed fund. 



In Memoriam

The LSU PhD program in Comparative Literature mourns the unexpected death of John Jefferson (Jeff) Humphries. Professor Humphries, former chair of the department of French Studies, was LSU Foundation Professor of French, Comparative Literature, and English. Born in 1955, he was educated at Duke University, where he was a student of Reynolds Price, and he received his PhD in French and Comparative Literature in 1981 from Yale University. His critical books include: The Otherness Within: Gnostic Readings in Marcel Proust, Flannery O’Connor, and François Villon (LSU Press 1983); Metamorphoses of the Raven: Literary Overdeterminedness in France and the South since Poe (LSU Press 1985); Losing the Text: Readings in Literary Desire (University of Georgia Press 1986); The Puritan and the Cynic: Moralists and Theorists in French and American Letters (Oxford University Press 1987); Southern Literature and Literary Theory (University of Georgia Press 1990); Conversations with Reynolds Price (University of Mississippi Press 1991); The Red and the Black: Mimetic Desire and the Myth of Celebrity (Twain Publishers 1991); Reading Emptiness: Buddhism and Literature (State University of New York Press 1999). He edited several volumes including: Poetics of the Americas: Race, Founding, and Textuality (LSU Press 1997), with former Professor Bainard Cowan; and The Future of Southern Letters (Oxford University Press 1996), with former LSU faculty member John Wharton Lowe. He edited and translated The Collected Poems of Édouard Glissant (University of Minnesota Press 2001). He published short stories, several volumes of poetry, A Bestiary: Poems (Blue Pond Press 1995); Borealis: Poems (University of Minnesota Press 2002), and a memoir Katrina, mon amour (Seuil 2008).  One of the founding members of the Comparative Literature program, we will miss Professor Humphries’s wit and wisdom. Professor Humphries made significant contributions to scholarship, the university, his department and the PhD Program in Comparative Literature.

The Program in Comparative Literature mourns the disappearance of our beloved colleague Édouard Glissant.  Between 1988 and 1995, Glissant taught in the Department of French Studies and in the Program in Comparative Literature at LSU. We honor his memory as a colleague who made us aware of the importance of studying the Caribbean basin in its relationship to the Americas, and to the Atlantic World.   Several members of the Comparative Literature faculty worked closely with him.  Femi Euba, Louise and Kenneth Kinney Professor of Theatre, produced Glissant’s magnificent play, Monsieur Toussaint.  In 2006, LSU Foundation Professor Jeff Humphries translated Glissant's poems with an introduction : The Collected Poems of Édouard Glissant, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Most recently, Alexandre Leupin, Phyllis M. Taylor. Professor published the account of their  sustained dialogue : Édouard Glissant, avec Alexandre Leupin, Les entretiens de Baton Rouge, (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, 2008).   All of those who benefited from his presence amongst us will continue to remember and support his incredible contributions to culture, literature and scholarship. We all owe the expression of our gratitude and affection to Edouard.


Recent Faculty Honors


Carl Freedman

Recipient of LSU's 2013 Distinguished Research Masters Award, Carl Freedman was born in North Carolina and educated in the public schools of Chapel Hill and Raleigh. He received his higher education at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Oxford University, and Yale University. He has taught at Yale, at Wesleyan University (Connecticut), and, since 1984, at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), where he is the James F. Cassidy Professor of English and has been named a Distinguished Research Master. He is the author of many books, articles, and reviews that cover a wide range of topics in modern thought and culture: most notably Marxist critical theory, science fiction, film, and US electoral politics. 

Link to lecture delivered on occasion of receiving Distinguished Research Masters Award:*HWeR2m4Gw4utZ3kE7uA



Suzanne Marchand 

Recipient of LSU's 2012 Distinguished Research Masters Award, Suzanne Marchand received her bachelor's degree in history from University of California, Berkeley and a master's and PhD from the University of Chicago. She is author of German Orientalism in the Age of Empire, which, in 2010, was honored by both the American Historical Association and the American Library Association, as her work received the George L. Mosse Prize and was named as one of the "Outstanding Academic Titles of 2010." The book challenges Edward Said's influential theory that modern studies of the Orient are all rooted in Western imperial hubris. Marchand is also the author of  Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1970, and is co-author or editor of Proof and Persuasion: Essays on Authority, Objectivity; Evidence; Worlds Together, Worlds Apart; and Germany at the Fin de Siècle,as well as approximately 40 articles and book chapters. Marchand is President of the German Studies Association for 2013-14. Marchand also serves on the American Historical Association's Committee on Committees and is the first U.S. representative on the German History executive board. She has also previously been selected as an LSU Rainmaker; received a prestigious summer fellowship at Collegium Budapest; received an American Council of Learned Societies, or ACLS, Burkhardt Fellowship for associate professors; and received many other honors, fellowships and awards within her field.


Kevin Cope

Recipient of LSU's 2010 Distinguished Masters Award. Cope, a professor of English, received a bachelor’s with honors in English literature and philosophy from Pitzer College, and a master’s and PhD in English and American literature and language from Harvard University. An author of books including “Criteria of Certainty,” a study of the art and rhetoric of philosophical explanation during eighteenth century Britain, and more recently, “In and After the Beginning,” which examines the uniquely modern concern for beginnings of all types, Cope is a widely renowned scholar of  eighteenth century literature and intellectual history.

Currently president of the LSU Faculty Senate, Cope founded and continues to edit the journal 1650-1850, now in its eighteenth year of publication as a widely-read outlet for interdisciplinary studies.  He also serves as the general editor of ECCB: The Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography, which is considered the premiere interdisciplinary review and bibliographical journal for all aspects of Enlightenment studies. He came to LSU in 1983 and has maintained an extremely active research, publication and service record, having produced more than 100 articles and reviews and directing or organizing nearly a dozen academic conferences, among many other impressive accomplishments.


Recent Faculty Publications


Michelle Zerba 

Doubt and Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance(Forthcoming June 2012. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107024656) 

This book is an interdisciplinary study of the forms and uses of doubt in works by Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Cicero, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, and Montaigne. Based on close analysis of literary and philosophical texts by these important authors, Michelle Zerba argues that doubt wears many faces and is a defining experience in antiquity and the Renaissance, one that constantly challenges the limits of representation. The wide-ranging discussion considers issues that run the gamut from tragic loss to comic bombast, from psychological collapse to skeptical dexterity, and from solitary reflection to political improvisation in civic contexts. It puts Greek and Roman treatments of doubt into dialogue with not only sixteenth-century texts, but with contemporary works as well. Using the past to engage questions of vital concern to our time, Zerba demonstrates that although doubt sometimes has destructive consequences, it can also be conducive to tolerance, discovery, and conversation across sociopolitical boundaries.

Pius Nkashama Ngandu

The following list of titles represents critical  and creative works which our prolific colleague Pius Ngandu has published recently:Dialogues et entretiens d'auteur, (Paris, L'Harmattan, Coll. "Etudes africaines", 2012); Guerres africaines et écritures historiques (Paris, L’Harmattan, Coll. “Études africaines”, 2011, 292 p.); En suivant le sentier sous les palmiers (Paris, L’Harmattan, 2011);Constellations Abroad (Translated in English by Sylviane Ngandu Kalenga, New Orleans, University Press of the South, 2010).


John D. Pizer

 Imagining the Age of Goethe in German Literature, 1970-2010 (New York: Camden House, 2011)

Publisher's Description: The age of Goethe is widely viewed as the apogee of German culture. Its writers and thinkers, especially Goethe, have been exalted as role models for life and art, particularly after 1945. Yet in the 1970's, a new generation of German writers in both East and West rebelled against the postwar hagiography, taking up a tradition of imaginatively engaging with the giants of the period, casting them in major roles in their works in order to critique the nation's past and its present, a tradition that has been carried on by more contemporary writers. This is the first book-length study devoted to modern German "author-as-character" fiction set in the Age of Goethe. It shows for the first time in a sustained manner the powerful hold the Goethezeit continues to exercise on the imagination of many of Germany's leading writers. This inner-German dialogue across the ages provides an important corrective to the dominant critical view that contemporary German-language literature is composed primarily under the sign of both globalization and the influence of mass American culture. The book will be of interest to both scholars of the Goethezeit and of contemporary German literature and culture.


Gang Zhou

Placing the Modern Chinese Literature in Transnational Literature (London & New York: Palgrave/Macmillan,2011) 

Publisher’s Description: This is the first systematic study of the vernacular movement in modern Chinese literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from the perspective of comparative literature.  Drawing on the experiences of vernacular movements in other times and societies (Italian, French, German, English, Japanese, Indian, Arabic, Turkish, Vietnamese), and on the concept of world literature, this book is a new and radical rereading of the origins of modern Chinese literature.  Examining the Chinese literary revolution in the context of vernacularization in Renaissance Europe, the genbun itchi movement in Meiji Japan, modern Turkish language reform, and the revival of classical Hebrew in modern Israeli society, this book situates the "triumph" of the vernacular in modern China in a truly global comparative setting.


Keith Sandiford

Theorizing a Colonial Caribbean-Atlantic Imaginary: Sugar and Obeah(London:  Routledge, “Routledge Research in Atlantic Studies” 2010)

Publisher’s Description: This book develops a theory of a Caribbean-Atlantic imaginary by exploring the ways two colonial texts represent the consciousnesses of Amerindians, Africans, and Europeans at two crucial points marking respectively the origins and demise of slavocratic systems in the West Indies. Focusing on Richard Ligon’s History of Barbados (1657) and Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis’ Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834), the study identifies specific myths and belief systems surrounding sugar and obeah as each of these came to stand for concepts of order and counterorder, and to figure the material and symbolic power of masters and slaves respectively. Rooting the imaginary in indigenous Caribbean myths, the study adopts the pre-Columbian origins of the imaginary ascribed by Wilson Harris to a cross cultural bridge or arc, and derives the mythic origins for the centrality of sugar in the imaginary’s constitution from Kamau Brathwaite. The book’s central organizing principle is an oppositional one, grounded on the order/counterorder binary model of the imaginary formulated by the philosopher-social theorist Cornelius Castoriadis. The study breaks new ground by reading Ligon’s History and Lewis’ Journal through the lens of the slaves’ imaginaries of hidden knowledge. By redefining Lewis’ subjectivity through his poem’s most potent counterordering symbol, the demon-king, this book advances recent scholarly interest in Jamaica’s legendary Three Fingered Jack.



Recent Student Honors


Juliana Reineman

Juliana Reineman's 2011 doctoral dissertation, "Hear (No) Evil, See (No) Evil, Speak (No) Evil: Artistic Representation of Argentina's "Dirty War"" was nominated by the Program in Comparative Literature and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for the LSU Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award. She received a Certificate of Exemplary Achievement from the Graduate Faculty. She has recently published  “Between the Imaginary and the Real: Photographic Portraits of Mourning and of Melancholia in Argentina.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 92.5 (October 2011).

Richmond Eustis, Jr. 

Richmond Eustis's doctoral dissertation,  “Reading Out of Doors: How Nature Becomes Text and Vice-Versa,” was nominated by the Program in Comparative Literature and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences and awarded the LSU Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award for the most outstanding thesis of 2010

Rachel Spear

Rachel Spear's dissertation, “More Than Words, More Than Wounds: (Re)Writing ‘Wounded’ Women and Healing Pedagogies” won the Ann Simon Award for the most outstanding thesis in the area of Women’s and Gender Studies at LSU.

Wendy Braun

Recipient of the 2011 Tom W. Dutton Award: Presented to female undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Also a recipient of the 2011 Women and Gender Studies Award for Outstanding Graduate Minor. Voted Best Teaching Assistant in Women and Gender Studies.  A Visiting Lecturer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she was also awarded the 2012 Ann Simon Outstanding Dissertation Award by the LSU Program in Women's and Gender Studies.  She joins Rachel Spear, Basic and Advanced Composition Coordinator at the University of Southern Mississippi, to be the second Comparative Literature PhD student to be honored by this award in the past three years.



New Support Groups for the Program in Comparative Literature at LSU


Two new support groups are being organized for the Program in Comparative Literature at LSU. The first is an Advisory Board consisting of internationally recognized scholars, business and professional leaders who will help advise us on curricular issues, fund raising and help us disseminate information about our faculty and students. Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Gaines M. Foster, has approved this initiative. We are working with the Development Officer in Humanities & Social Sciences to identify individuals who would be interested in helping us.

The second is a new graduate student organization: Comparative Literature Graduate Organization (CLGO). This is an organization that has been created specifically for graduate students in the Comparative Literature Program, yet the organization welcomes any LSU affiliated student, staff, and faculty who are interested in Comparative Literature to join.

The purpose of the organization is (as taken from the constitution): “The CLGO [comparative literature graduate organization] is established with the express purpose of facilitating professional development amongst graduate students interested in Comparative Literature, and to serve as a liaison to the Faculty of the Comparative Literature Department”.