Study Plan

Course Title 
Course Code
Credit Hours

First Semester​ ​

​Theories of Comparative Literature 
​3 Credit Hours 
​Readings in World Literatures
​3 Credit Hours 
​The Worlds of Arabic Literature
​3 Credit Hours 
​Issues in the Study of Social Sciences and Humanities  
​3 Credit Hours 

Semester​ ​

​The Arabic Literary: Periodicities, Temporalities and Cartographic Imaginaries
3 Credit Hours
​Texts and Textualities in Comparative Literary Thought
3 Credit Hours
​Comparative Theory: Untranslatability as Comparative Critical Method
3 Credit Hours
​Close Reading I: Theory, Practice, Allegory: Aesthetics of Resistance  OR 
Close Reading II: Theory, Practice, Allegory: Regimes of Representation
3 Credit Hours

​Third Semester 

​Readings in Literary and Critical Theory
0 Credit Hours
​Interdisciplinary Course 
3 Credit Hours
​Interdisciplinary Course 
3 Credit Hours
Free Elective Course from DI
3 Credit Hours

Fourth Semester

​Dissertation - Comparative Literature


​ 6 Credit Hours 
Total Credit Hours 

​ 42 Credit Hours 

 Elective Courses

COMP 621 Close Reading I: Theory, Practice, Allegory: Aesthetics of Resistance

Close reading and textual analysis have historically formed the core of training unique to the discipline of comparative literature, with a core theoretical corpus that has tackled both the act and the experience of close reading. With recent developments in the humanities and the critical humanities, under the call for a return to philology, close reading has come again to the fore as necessary for the ethically committed humanist. The training, however, has remained within the remit of the discipline of comparative literature, forming its signature dimension, not easily accessible in other disciplines. The course will be uniquely designed along units that alternate between theories of reading and writing, both having developed into key concepts in the humanities, and practical training in the arts and sensibilities of close reading. The focus of COMP 621 will be to impart a new critically and aesthetically revisionist training in understanding the phenomena of resistance, refusal and subversion in cultural, literary and artistic works. It aims to recognize and understand established theoretical concepts and critical methods on the issue of cultural resistance from the disciplines of sociology, political philosophy, and literary and cultural studies. Through the methods of close reading, the course will ultimately seek to interrogate such tools and theoretical frameworks in comparative contexts of cultural production and aesthetic practices.

COMP 622 Close Reading II: Theory, Practice, Allegory: Regimes of Representation

Close reading and textual analysis have historically formed the core of training unique to the discipline of comparative literature, with a core theoretical corpus that has tackled both the act and the experience of close reading. With recent developments in the humanities and the critical humanities, under the call for a return to philology, close reading has come again to the fore as necessary for the ethically committed humanist. The training, however, has remained within the remit of the discipline of comparative literature, forming its signature dimension, not easily accessible in other disciplines. The course will be uniquely designed along units that alternate between theories of reading and writing, both having developed into key concepts in the humanities, and practical training in the arts and sensibilities of close reading. The focus of COMP 622 will be the textual and theoretical analysis of regimes of representation in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Drawing on a wide range of forms of cultural production and textualities, this course will investigate contrapuntally differing representational codes. The course will also seek to offer, through close readings, systematic interventions in the analysis of a diversity of Arab voices whose resistance to prevailing Orientalist narratives is varied, complex, and crucial.

COMP 623 Arab Literatures in the Diaspora

This course will focus on the Arab literary arts and practices produced by Arab immigrants in Diaspora, and / or by Arab returnees in the Arab world. The course will introduce early major Arab literary movements in America; and will examine representative texts, in Arabic and other languages, by male and female Arab immigrants (or returnees), especially in America, Australia, and Europe. It will address such issues as language, identity, homeland, migration, and exile as reflected in the Arab literary immigrant narrative.  

COMP 624 Orality and Literary Thought

"In recent years certain basic differences have been discovered between the ways of managing knowledge and verbalization in primary oral cultures (cultures with no knowledge at all of writing) and in cultures deeply affected by the use of writing."  This observation of Walter J. Ong, in is seminal study, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (1982) raises serious issues in our study of literature and literariness.   "The implications of the new discoveries have been startling," Ong further amplifies.   "Many of the features we have taken for granted in thought and expression in literature, philosophy and science, and even in oral discourse among literates, are not directly native to human existence as such but have come into being because of the resources which the technology of writing makes available to human consciousness. We have had to revise our understanding of human identity." 

Is it possible for us today even to imagine or retrieve the imagination of a time of orality prior to literariness?  This course is designed as an introduction to the idea of Orality as a mode of knowing and being that predates and accompanies the practice of literariness.   In this course we will pay close attention to two kinds of thinking: (1) the body of literature on orality and oralcy, and (2) a closer examination of the tradition of Adab in Arabic and other Islamic languages as a cultural practice that is on the borderline between literacy and orality.  

COMP 625 Surrealism in Literature and Art

In Europe in the third and fourth decades on the twentieth century certain intellectual and artistic movements have merged, with rebellious and revolutionary agendas. These movements came to be grouped under "Surrealism". The influence of these revolutionary agendas and artistic and literary practices extended to the Arab World, perhaps best known among them is the "Art and Freedom" movement in Egypt, which included some of the most avant-garde figures in the arts and literature at the time. This course explores the intellectual and artistic production of the Surrealist movements in comparative contexts, crossing linguistic, cultural and national borders, while placing their achievements on a longer historical trajectory. 

COMP 626 Slavery in Literature, Film and Museology

This course will focus on the African American slave narrative and invite transnational comparisons and connections throughout. This course will examine the slave narrative as an intellectual, artistic, and political tool of activism and resistance. It will involve introducing related comparative and international topics, such as issues of race, representation, cultural ownership, racial claims and barriers to citizenship, theory of "internal colonialism" that links between racism and imperialism, and the history of civil rights activism, Pan-Africanism, Black Lives Matter, and other black liberation movements.

Through comparative biographies or representative transnational lives of indigenous peoples, colonists, migrants, slaves, this course will depict people who crossed borders and transformed history. Incorporating the stories of such lives into this course will engage students concretely in the historical drama at the same time it raises their awareness of the many places that have informed Americans' lives and identities. Moreover, a course-long emphasis on foreign relations, war, migration, religion, trade, technology, or social movements would ensure that United States history could be studied from a sustained interactionist viewpoint that stresses America's participation in, rather than isolation from, the movement of peoples, goods, and ideas throughout the world.

COMP 627 City Narratives - Writing the Place and Reading the Space

This course is designed to prepare students to understanding the spatiality of the literary text, following the Spatial Turn and the question of geography, in addition to reading methods and techniques, focused on geocriticism, that allow spatial reading and analysis. This course focuses on city narratives and explores how cities are represented in literature, how city spaces (and their types) figure in form and in content in literary works, as well as how social space is produced, performed, and practiced. The aim of the course is a focus on reading this interplay between form and content, between space-of-text and space-in-text, in order to understand the duality text/city as a process of production of space and the making of place. This in turn will allow for an understanding of how space is read and place written. The course explores as well the role of the reader in producing a literary geography (or map and therefore space) based on a critical reading of the literary cartography or map presented by the author. This course adopts an interdisciplinary approach to studying space in literature, in line with the program’s vision. It introduces socio-historical, political, and theoretical representations of city spaces in literature and involves a close reading and analysis of literary texts that engage the formal, stylistic, conceptual, and thematic. It introduces various approaches to reading space and writing place, encouraging conversations that crosses spatial theory, urban studies, anthropology, philosophy, literary studies, and critical theory. The course will also focus on new ventures in the study of space brought about by the problematisation of concepts such as borders, belonging, and home. Therefore, this course will also lend attention to translation studies, diaspora and migration studies, and postcolonial studies.

COMP 001 Reading in Literary and Critical Theory

​This course will complete the theoretical and practical training and will aim to further support the students during the thesis write-up phase in the fourth semester. The reading selections will vary each year, in order to tally with the students' intellectual and research projects. It will therefore feed directly into the theoretical frameworks for the different thesis projects.

The discipline of Comparative Literature has historically developed its central contributions to the study of literature (and the critical humanities in general) in specifically English provenances of critical and theoretical thought. The key critical and theoretical works and approaches that have orientated the crucial phases of development on the North American scene since the late 1940s were produced by founding European figures who had fled in the post-war years, or in the wake of the crucial events of 1968. Other foundational texts in French or German were translated into English in key historical moments in the development of literary and theoretical thought, and it is these English translations (of Husserl, Heidegger, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Blanchot and in other cases including the works of Bakhtin from Russian) that have forged not only new registers for the discipline, but also new modes of thought and idiomicity. The specific history of the discipline requires therefore that all scholars engage with it in English, regardless of their range of linguistic expertise.

 Core Courses

COMP 611 Theories of Comparative Literature

This course is designed at an advanced level to offer training in comparative literary theory, methods, and interpretive modes of reading. It will constitute the theoretical grounds for the Program and other core courses. The course will introduce the general concepts of comparative literature and highlight in historical perspective major instances of cultural transfer and travelling world theories. The course is conceived in response to the new trends in critical humanism and in dialogue with current issues and debates in comparative literary theory, World Literature approaches and the New Comparative Literature. The postulates of a “New Comparative Literature” have been initially articulated in the most recent debates in Comparative Literature, World Literature, Translation Studies and Postcolonial Studies. The debates, which offer crucial reflections on disciplinary formations, seem all to converge on the problem of method when it comes to working across languages and traditions and as such have called for the expertise of the non-European literary, aesthetic and critical traditions. The debates also offer such a wide ranging programmatic reach that crosses philology, translation, globalization and diaspora and migrant studies. The course will therefore uniquely focus on approaches to the conceptual languages of critical theory and to text and textuality, offering alternative approaches to the canons of world Literatures through comparative conceptual, formal, thematic and stylistic analysis.

COMP 612 Readings in World Literatures

The course is designed at an advanced level to offer training in the comparative methods of close reading, textual analysis and practical criticism, as well as in interpretive modes of reading. “World literature is not an object, it’s a problem” (Franco Moretti). As a training course in the historical, cultural and power differentials of cultures of reading and writing, Readings in World Literatures will take for its point of departure the critical interrogation of the assumptions that we either know what world literature is, or that we can so readily provide representative literary works to illustrate what it is. The course is conceptualized and based on theoretical questions surrounding the concept and its histories of practice. As such, the course is not intended to offer a survey of “the literatures of the world”. The reading selections will be approached through systematic engagements with the theoretical and critical debates on world literature. The discussion began with Goethe’s coinage of the term “Weltliteratur” in 1827 and continues to inform the work of scholars in the discipline of comparative literature, including David Damrosch, Franco Moretti, Emily Apter, Pascale Casanova, Susan Bassnett and others. The course will include problems raised by the different notions of eurocentrism, canons and periodization, genre-based approaches and the centrality of ancient epics in models of literary circulation, translation and untranslatability.

COMP 613 The Worlds of Arabic Literature

This course is envisioned to be an exemplary course in approaches to non-European literatures, designed to address and carry further the current debates in the discipline. The course will be carefully designed around key critical clusters that will further train the students in the new methods and approaches offered in COMP 611 and COMP 612 while revising the historical and critical problems of traditional approaches to Arabic literature.The course is conceived in answer to the recent theoretical debates over the agency of the non-European and will seek to problematize the historically dominant modality in literary and critical analysis and theoretical thought whereby European thought offers the modes of theoretical knowledge production and non-European literatures offer the objects of analysis. The course will take the form of a guided inquiry into Arabic literary practices through close examination of a range of representative works and a range of critical methods inspired by major theories and the specificities of modern Arabic creative and textual practices. Crucially conceived, the course will seek to open a new space of theorizations on the world in which contemporary Arab critical thought on literature and the literary comes into dialogue with current trends in theoretical production. The course is therefore also envisaged as an answer to the debates over the hegemony of world literary systems.

COMP 614 The Arabic Literary: Periodicities, Temporalities and Cartographic Imaginaries

Beginning with the literary work itself, the newly designed course will tackle issues of periodicity, regional and national divisions, circulation within the Arab spheres and the new literary practices. It will further build on the ground critical and theoretical training offered in Semester I and will tackle the issues of Arab and Arabic, Arab migrant literatures and literature produced in other languages in the region. The agency of Arabic creative expression and textual practices will be hermeneutically articulated in the attempt to offer such practices as critical and theoretical postulates, which will then be engaged in dialogue with European critical and theoretical traditions. The examination of the conceptual languages of critical theory and comparative critical methods will be linked through hermeneutical analysis to historical and cultural dynamics in the production and reception of literary theory. Literary works will be approached as text (formalist), creative act (hermeneutical) and literary practice (historical, cultural). The intellectual projects of key Arab thinkers and critics will also serve as mediating theoretical grounds between Western theory and Arab intellectual and aesthetic traditions.

COMP 615 Texts and Textualities in Comparative Literary Thought

The concept of textuality is at the core of the new comparative literature theories, and is offering new modalities for crossing linguistic, cultural, literary and historical borders. This course will focus on the questions of production, reception and circulation (key issues in the current debates) as textual phenomena. In carefully designed units, a chosen major Arabic or non-Arabic work will be traced across time and space. Philological, literary critical, historical and theoretical approaches will converge on the singe text, its historical moment, and its later readerly, critical and creative modes of reception across time and geographic borders. Further, the course will seek to radicalise theories of influence, text and context, as well as current practices of literary history, genre formations and language modes.

COMP 616 Comparative Theory: Untranslatability as Comparative Critical Method

This course will crown the theoretical training of the candidate in Comparative Literature at the Doha Institute, and is envisioned as a major intervention in the discipline and disciplinary formations in the academy, especially in the Euro-American sphere. An important aspect of the recent trends in comparative work is the need to revisit the languages of theory and to bring non-western theoretical discourses into deep dialogue through the development of local conceptual traditions. In Arabic, for example, this will entail working strongly between classical and modern, across the diversities of Arabic literary, aesthetic and cultural production and through strong comparative work equally with non-western as with western theories. No less crucial is the development of Arabic conceptual languages beyond the problems of the translation of theoretical terms. Especially significant is the program’s potential to develop the interdisciplinary study of literature by initiating local research networks. Collaborations with the Historical Dictionary Project and the Program in Philosophy are envisioned in the design of this course and will be crucial for the larger intellectual project that is hoped to be the DI signature in the field.

SOSH 601 Issues in the Study of Social Sciences and Humanities.

All SOSH students must successfully complete one non-credit core compulsory course offered at the School level as a cross-disciplinary introduction to the study of the social sciences and humanities.

Dissertation 6 credit

In consultation with an academic supervisor, the student will choose a dissertation topic and program of research. The student will submit a dissertation of 12,000 – 18,000 words at the end of the second academic year, but discussions about the topic begin during the first year. The coordinator of the course will organize regular sessions for students to discuss research methodologies and choose a research topic. Students will be expected to write a summary research proposal, incorporating the main assumptions to be tested, choose a research methodology and write a summary on what the dissertation will contribute to present literature, based on a critical view of existing writings on the subject. The coordinator will then choose a supervisor who follows up with the student until completing the dissertation. The dissertation examination consists of two parts; a marked assessment of the dissertation by two examiners and an oral defense in front of an examination panel comprised of the same two examiners