Diploma in World Literature

The Graduate Program in English at York University is pleased to offer Canada’s first Graduate Diploma in World Literature.

Having been at the forefront of the Canadian development of “commonwealth” studies, York’s world-renowned faculty maintain their cutting edge in research into and teaching of the literatures of postcoloniality, the writings of diasporic and indigenous peoples and communities, theories of imperialism and its resistance, and globalization studies. Our students are drawn to our reputation for adventurous, interdisciplinary, and innovative approaches to literature.

York’s prize-winning graduate faculty offer courses across the historical sweep of English-language literatures in all genres from their very beginnings to today’s global spectrum of voices and expressive forms. With a history of achievement and renown, equipped with an accomplished faculty of superb researchers and talented teachers, and with the enthusiasm and creativity of our excellent students, York’s Graduate Program in English consistently maintains its well-recognized place in the vanguard of literary inquiry in Canada. We are pleased to offer the first Diploma in World Literature in the country, and invite students to join us in shaping this exciting new field of inquiry.

Designed to highlight and give official accreditation to our students’ transnational, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary literary expertise, this Diploma is unique in Canada. It can lead to prospective careers in a range of areas requiring a high level of cross-cultural competency and literacy in this era of globalization, from government to the global creative industries. The Graduate Diploma in World Literature can be obtained in conjunction with an M.A. or Ph.D. degree in English, Humanities, or Translation Studies.

“World literature is not an infinite, ungraspable canon of works but rather a mode of circulation and of reading.” —David Damrosch

Admission Requirements

All candidates for the diploma must first be admitted to the Graduate Program in English, Humanities, or Translation Studies at York University. M.A. candidates must register for the Diploma in their first term of study. Doctoral candidates are not held to this schedule, as they may decide to register for the diploma only once they have clearly defined their doctoral research project. Application for the diploma is made to the Graduate Program in English Director.

Diploma Requirements

The Graduate Diploma in World Literature is awarded to registered graduate students who fulfill the following requirements:

  •  A three-credit course entitled “Comparative and World Literature Seminar: History and Practice.” This required course will be in addition to the requirements of an M.A. or Ph.D. degree in English or Humanities, or of an M.A. degree in Translation Studies.
  • One course in cultural theory (three or six credits), to be chosen among the offerings of the Graduate Programs in English, Humanities, or Translation Studies, and approved by the Graduate Program in English Director. This course will count for both the M.A. or Ph.D. degree, and the Diploma.
  • Three course-related research papers with a world literature perspective and content; or an M.A. major research paper or thesis with a World Literature approach; or a Ph.D. dissertation with a World Literature approach. Students taking courses in theory and criticism, or in any literary period or genre, can thus choose to write research papers that fulfill the course requirements while taking a world literature perspective, and have their essays count for both the course and the diploma.
  • A capstone Diploma Research Paper, elaborated with the advice of a Professor with specialization in the topic to be explored.  This paper will further develop expertise in World Literature and require that students demonstrate the interdisciplinary, cross-cultural research and critical skills acquired throughout their World Literature Diploma studies.  This is also an additional requirement.

It is recommended, but not required, that students complete a study period, research stay, or an internship in a country pertinent to their projects in World Literature.

Comparative and World Literature Seminar: History and Practice

Cross-listed in English, Humanities, and Translation Studies, this seminar introduces students to the conditions of emergence and development of the discipline of Comparative Literature from its beginnings in nineteenth-century Europe to its most recent global iteration of World Literature. Students will experience how expanded understandings of cultural translation and textuality have radically altered and expanded the Eurocentric character of the discipline. Questions for investigation include (with the emphasis changing from year to year):

  • What are the politics (the stakes, the ethics, the costs) of practicing comparative literature? How do those compare with the practice of world literature?
  • How do the theoretical and methodological principles of comparative and world literature relate to colonial, post-colonial, diasporic, and cultural studies, translation studies and digital humanities?
  • How are comparative literature and world literature practiced in different locations? What role has the globalization of capital and culture played in the formation of these fields?
  • How are the theoretical and methodological principles of world literature redefining literary studies?

For more information, please contact the Graduate Program in English.