Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

Comparative Literature and Literary Theory is a specialisation of the Leiden University Master’s programme in Media Studies. Comparative Literature and Literary Theory is devoted to the study of literature from a comparative and theoretical perspective. Offering a wide array of study options, the programme is not limited to the literatures of one specific language or culture, but covers world languages and cultures.

Reasons to choose Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at Leiden University

  • Make use of the wide array of study options: the programme is not limited to the literatures of one specific language or culture, but covers world languages and cultures.
  • Utilise the expertise and infrastructure available through the Faculty of Humanities to stimulate an intercultural approach to literature.
  • Explore the four main fields of study which appear in an integrated form in the different courses:
    • Literary Theory
    • Comparative Literature
    • Interculturality (cross-cultural approach)
    • Intermediality (cross-mediatic approach)

The main fields are explained in greater detail later on the programme page.

Master details

  • Dit is een afstudeerrichting van: Media Studies
  • Graad Master of Arts in Media Studies
  • Onderwijsvorm Full-time
  • Duur 1 year
  • Start September, February
  • Taal English
  • Vestigingsplaats Leiden
  • Croho/isatcode 60830

Prof. Ernst van Alphen

Ernst van Alphen

“For me, literary texts are not so much interesting as an expression or reaction of a culture or period, but as a production factor which constitutes culture or subjectivity.”

“In Leiden we have chosen explicitly for the most recent period, the 19th and 20th centuries, which we study in great depth. A further choice is that we study literature in relation to art and film, using subjects such as interculturality and intermediality.

A characteristic of this Leiden master’s is also that we organise two or three congresses and lectures every semester. The most recent of these were an international three-day congress on the Rhetoric of Sincerity and a mini congress on meaning in music and literature. These kinds of activities enable students to come into contact with recent academic visions.

I am particularly fascinated by the production of literary meaning, and the role that this plays in the formation of subjectivity and cultural memory. For me, literary texts are not so much interesting as an expression or reaction of a culture or period, but as a production factor which constitutes culture or subjectivity. Naturally, I have academic sources of inspiration in this approach to literature, but even more important is the role of literature or sculpture as a source of inspiration.

I do not believe that a literary text is an ‘object’ which necessarily has to be subjected to academic methods; it is more of a discussion partner. I sharpen my views through comparison with literature or sculpture.”

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