​​​​​The program aims at training students in transnational literary and cultural theory, providing them with the most sophisticated, interdisciplinary, and critical tools to study the literary and cultural products of the Arab world, not only insomuch as they relate to their own traditions and generic canons, but also comparatively in relation to parallel traditions and genres in western and world literature. Intensive study of Arabic texts and other media will train students in the application of various theoretical approaches to evaluate afresh the phenomena of literary and cultural production of past and present.

The disciplinary makeup of this program is well suited to the DI mission that has interdisciplinarity at its core. Training students in literary and comparative theory enables them to study the inter-cultural relations between Arabic literature and World literature both contemporarily and historically. Students of this program will thus graduate as “academic researchers and capable professionals in the social sciences and humanities” and “independent thinkers” who are proficient in using international scientific standards and modern interdisciplinary research methodologies and tools, in line with the institutional mission of the DI.

Program Entry Requirements

The Comparative Literature (Arabic – Western) program welcomes outstanding applicants who possess the skills and motivation required for graduate study.

A solid first degree in an academic discipline related to the study of languages and literatures is desirable, but applications from different disciplinary backgrounds will also be considered in cases where there is demonstrable interest in literary studies. 

Before applying please ensure you have visited and understood the Admissions requirements and procedures at the Institute level.

Faculty

Ayman A. El-Desouky 
Associate Professor and Head of Program (see full profile)

Nijmeh Hajjar
Professor (see full profile)

Hamid Dabashi
Visiting Professor 

Atef Botros Al Attar 
Assistant Professor (see full profile​)

Eid Ahmed Mohamed
Assistant Professor (see full profile)

Program Structure

Note: Course offerings may vary and are dependent on faculty availability, student demand and registration capacity.​

A. Program Requirements - 24 credits: 

1 - 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.

2- Program Electives 6 Credits:

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 (description coming soon).

COMP 624 Gender and Sexuality in Arabic Literature (description coming soon).

COMP 625  Surrealism in Literature and Art (description coming soon).

COMP 626 Slavery in Literature, Film and Museology (description coming soon).

COMP 627 Concepts in the Critical Humanities (description coming soon).

 

3- Specialized English Language Course (Non- Credit Course):

COMP 001 Readings in Literary and Critical Theory

The School may offer a number of non-credit bearing courses, which must be taken as a condition for graduation when required by the relevant program. Students must successfully pass the assignment for each course as a condition for graduation. These courses will also appear on the student's transcript but will not contribute to the student's GPA. 

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.

B. School Requirements - 12 credits:

1- Cross - Disciplinary Course - 3 credits: 

 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. 

Please visit the “Interdisciplinarity at SOSH” page for more details about this course and its description.

2 – Two Interdisciplinary Courses - 6 credits:

Each program allows students to enroll in courses of special interest, and of a cross-disciplinary nature, which are offered jointly with one or more other programs. Courses offered as interdisciplinary courses may vary and are dependent on faculty availability, student demand and registration capacity.

All students will choose two courses of 3 credits each from the list of interdisciplinary courses. Please visit the “Interdisciplinarity at SOSH” page for more details about these courses and their descriptions.

3 - Non-restricted Elective - 3 credits:

Students may choose one course of 3 credits from any program in any of the Schools/Centers in the DI (including SPADE and CHS). Students may choose their free elective from the courses offered by the Comparative Literture Program, which are offered on a rotating basis.

 

C. Dissertation - 6 credits:​​

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.



Career Destinations

Upon completion of this program, graduates will obtain a degree in “Master of Social Sciences and Humanities in: Comparative Literature (Arabic-Western)”. 

The most pertinent career destinations for graduates of the program will be in the teaching profession and the media. Graduates will also be qualified to continue with their studies to doctoral level. 


Apply

Applicants may apply for the Comparative Literature program through an online application. Please review the Admissions Dates to ensure the application and all required documents are submitted before the deadline. 

Please visit the Apply page in order to start your application.

For any academic questions please contact the School of Social Sciences and Humanities.