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The M.A. Degree

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MASTER OF ARTS STATEMENT OF PROCEDURE

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

 

(Fall 2014)

 

 

University Entrance Requirements and other Graduate School regulations marked in the text with an asterisk (*) can be found in the Graduate School Bulletin.

 

The Graduate Program in Comparative Literature is designed for students who are committed to the study of languages and literatures in a context broader than that of a single national literature program and who wish to prepare themselves for professional work in comparative, interdisciplinary, and cultural studies.  Our program encourages the study of literature in its historical, cultural, and linguistic contexts as an international phenomenon; stimulates the development and refinement of new theoretical and curricular paradigms; and promotes imaginative approaches to the analysis of literary and visual texts in several languages.

 

The Graduate Program in Comparative Literature offers opportunities for graduate study leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy.  Areas of curricular emphasis include theories of literature and interpretation, theory and practice of translation, narrative and discourse theory, theories of literary history, canon and world literature, psychoanalytic theory, film analysis, gender studies, and a range of cross-cultural studies, from Orientalism/Occidentalism to multi-culturalism in the Americas.

 

Courses or seminars are regularly offered in literary theory and criticism, cross-cultural literary relations, theory and practice of translation, translation history, children's literature, psychoanalysis and literature, science fiction, gender studies, and film and literature.  Graduate courses in Comparative Literature are open to all qualified graduate students and may, with prior approval of the other department or program concerned, be taken to meet a foreign language requirement.

 

 

PREREQUISITES

 

(Beyond the usual requirements of the Graduate School.)

 

Undergraduate Degree

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree or a recognized foreign equivalent, either with a major in a language-literature field or with substantial literary studies.

 

 

Languages

All applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English and in one language other than English, and a working knowledge of a third language.  Ph.D. applicants should have completed at least three years' study of their first foreign language and two of their second.  M.A. applicants should have completed at least three years of their first foreign language and one year of their second.  Knowledge of classical languages is encouraged.

 

An entering M.A. or Ph.D. student who does not show language competence by previous study may demonstrate competence in the first and second languages by coursework, as specified in the program's Statement of Procedure.

 

 

Grade Point Average

The applicant should have a grade point average equivalent to at least 3.00 out of possible 4.00.

 

 

Examinations

Applicants are required to have taken the Graduate Record Examination within five years before applying. Non-native speakers of English who are not U.S. citizens are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination.

 

 

 

 

 

Written Work

Applicants are required to submit directly to Comparative Literature a sample of their written work with their application.  This should demonstrate critical handling of literary material, preferably including non-English texts.  The paper need not be written in English.  Essays written in a language other than English should be accompanied by an English translation done by the candidate.  For a Translation Studies application, a candidate may submit a sample translation with an introductory translator's note.

 

The critical essay required of applicants to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Comparative Literature should be sent directly to Comparative Literature at Herter Hall, 161 Presidents Drive, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-9312.  All other application materials must be sent to the Graduate School.

 

 

Transfer Credits

Subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, M.A. candidates may transfer from other institutions up to six hours of graduate credit graded "B" or higher, and taken within three years before admission.*  Students are strongly encouraged to request transfer of credits within the first semester after admission.

 

 

 

ACADEMIC STANDING

 

 

Advising and Review of Progress

 

1.     The Graduate Program Director serves as adviser to newly admitted students.  During the first year, in consultation with the Director, students select an adviser according to their academic interests.

 

2.     Each academic year, members of the Graduate Studies Committee review the progress of all students.  Students are expected to maintain standing in accordance with the General Regulations of the Graduate School.* 

 

3.     The Graduate Studies Committee, in consultation with the student's adviser, may place a student on probation for one year when:

 

(1)             the student's  record shows more than two grades of incomplete (excluding thesis or dissertation credits); or

(2)             the cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0.

(3)             the student fails to make appropriate progress toward degree as defined in the Statement of Procedure.

 

In any of these cases, the Graduate Program Director writes the student a memorandum describing the steps to be taken to remove probationary status.  Probationary status jeopardizes a student's eligibility for financial support, whether by funding through the Department, the University (fellowship programs) or Continuing Education.  Failure to meet stipulated obligations in the ensuing one-year period may result in termination of graduate studies.  Any student placed on probation may appeal in writing to the Graduate Studies Committee no later than thirty days after the beginning of the semester following the notice of probation.  This appeal will be granted only in cases of unusual hardship.

 

 

Waivers, Exemptions, Modifications

A student may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for a waiver or modification of any requirement in this Statement of Procedure, except for those mandated by the Graduate School.*  The Graduate Studies Committee will provide written notice of its decision in a timely fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE M.A. DEGREE

 

 

There are two M.A. tracks in the Comparative Literature graduate program:  the M.A. in Comparative Literature and the M.A. in Translation Studies framed within a comparatist perspective.  The two programs follow similar patterns, each having an option with or without thesis. The specifics of the M.A. in Translation Studies are given following the M.A. in Comparative Literature.  Both degrees are outlined below as a two-year program, but if a student studies full time, each can be completed in three semesters or even 12 months with extremely careful planning.

 

 

The M.A. In Comparative Literature

 

Program of Study

The balance among the main constituent elements of a candidate's course of study will vary with individual circumstances.  The following kinds of competence, however, are taken to characterize the holder of a M.A. in Comparative Literature: a grounding in literary and social theory; a knowledge of one language and its literature sufficient to warrant the respect of specialists; a reading knowledge of three languages (ancient or modern); a wide command of the literature of one main historical period; and training in research methods, literary translation, and problems of criticism.

 

 

Requirements

Work in one literature, as construed in the broad sense described on page one, requires historical coverage from the earliest literary forms of the language to the present, with emphasis either on a genre or on a major period, and a thorough reading knowledge of the language.  Work in the second and third literatures requires coverage of the period or genre related to the field of emphasis in the first literature.  Reading knowledge of the languages involved should be very good in the second literature, and good in the third.

 

Requirements include 33 graduate credits (for distribution see below), 6 of which must be at the 600-800 level (excluding thesis credits), demonstration of foreign language facility, demonstration of bibliographic skills in Comparative Literature and the appropriate related disciplines, and the satisfactory completion of the M.A. thesis or project.

 

 

Course Requirements

A minimum of 33 credit hours is required in all cases, distributed as follows for the M.A. in Comparative Literature.  In addition, teaching assistants must take the one-credit Teaching Workshop.

 

 

M.A. with Thesis or Project

Comparative Literature

12

First Concentration

6

Second Concentration

6

Elective

3

Thesis/Project

6

 

Please note the following specifications:

 

1.     Required Courses

 

A.    A second graduate Comparative Literature course that combines theoretical perspectives
with practical criticism.

B.     In addition, for students planning to write a translation thesis: Comparative Literature 751
(Theory and Practice of Translation).

 

 



2.     For the M.A. up to three credits of Independent Study may be counted towards
the fulfillment of the requirements for the degree. Additional Independent Studies require the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

 

3.     Literature in translation courses may not be counted towards the literature components of the
Distribution Requirements unless special arrangements are made to complete required readings
in the original language.

 

 

The M.A. Committee

By the beginning of the third semester, the student selects, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director, the chair of the M.A. committee, who then becomes the student's primary adviser.  The committee chair and the candidate then select the rest of the committee, which consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty:  at least two from the Program of Comparative Literature and at least one from another department.*  The committee must include a member who is expert in the literature of the student's primary concentration.  The committee must be appointed by October of the student's second year.

 

 

M.A. with Thesis

By the beginning of the third semester, in consultation with the student's M.A. committee, the student chooses a thesis topic and writes a thesis prospectus. The prospectus must be defended by the end of the student's third semester, so as to allow a four-month time period between the acceptance of the prospectus and the defense of the thesis.* 

 

The thesis for the M.A. in Comparative Literature is between 20,000 and 25,000 words. Theses must include bibliographies of all works read in conjunction with the research undertaken for the thesis. 

 

After the thesis has been completed and submitted to all committee members, there is a thesis defense of two hours.  The thesis defense is public and announced at least two weeks in advance to all members of the Comparative Literature faculty and graduate program.  Questions at the thesis defense may also address the scope of the student's entire course of study for the M.A.

 

Immediately after the defense, the M.A. committee decides whether the student has submitted an acceptable thesis and defended it adequately, thus fulfilling the final requirements for the M.A. in Comparative Literature.  The decision is based on both the written thesis and the oral defense.  The examiners choose from two possible outcomes:  pass or fail.  The recommendation of all but one member of the M.A. committee is required for the student to be eligible for receiving the M.A.  The decision of the committee is made known immediately after the committee has conferred.

 

In the event of a negative decision by the committee, the M.A. committee consults with the Graduate Program Director during the week following the thesis defense.  The Graduate Program Director thereupon informs the student either that permission to resubmit the thesis and to have a second and final defense has been granted or that termination of graduate studies will be recommended.

 

 

 

The M.A. In Translation Studies

 

 

Program of Study

The balance among the main constituent elements of a candidate's course of study will vary with individual circumstances.  The following kinds of competence, however, are taken to characterize the holder of a M.A. in Translation Studies framed within the Comparative Literature Program of the University of Massachusetts Amherst: a grounding in translation, literary, and cultural theory; practical expertise in either translation or interpreting and a grounding in the other; knowledge of three languages and familiarity with the literary, cultural, and translation traditions of at least one of those languages; expertise in critical reading and textual analysis of complex written and spoken language; grounding in translation technologies; and training in research methods and problems of criticism.

 

 

 

 

Requirements

Requirements include 33 graduate credits (for distribution see below), 6 of which must be at the 600-800 level (excluding thesis credits); demonstration of foreign language facility; demonstration of bibliographic skills in Translation Studies, Comparative Literature, and the appropriate related disciplines; and the satisfactory completion of either a thesis or the M.A. examination.

 

 

 

Course Requirements

A minimum of 33 credit hours is required in all cases, distributed as follows for the M.A. in Translation Studies.  In addition, teaching assistants must take the one-credit Teaching Workshop.

 

 

M.A. with Thesis

Comparative Literature/Translation Studies

12

First Concentration

6

Second Concentration

6

Elective

3

Thesis

6

 

 

Please note the following specifications:

 

      1.   Required Courses

 

            A.   Comparative Literature 751, Theory and Practice of Translation.

      B.   One semester of Translation Technologies (or demonstrated equivalent competence). 

      C.   One semester of Interpreting.

            D.   One advanced seminar in Translation Studies.

   E.    One graduate Comparative Literature course that combines theoretical perspectives
          with practical criticism.

 

      2.   For the M.A. with thesis, up to three credits of Special Problems Courses may be counted towards
            the fulfillment of the requirements for the degree.

 

     3.   Literature in translation courses may not be counted towards the literature components of the
           Distribution Requirements unless special arrangements are made to complete required readings
           in the original language.

 

     4.   With the approval of the Graduate Program Director and the student's adviser, a student may
           substitute a course in Comparative Literature for a course in the first or second concentration.

 

 

The M.A. Committee

By the beginning of the third semester, the student selects, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director, the chair of the M.A. committee, who then becomes the student's primary adviser.  The committee chair and the candidate then select the rest of the committee, which consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty:  at least two from the Program of Comparative Literature (one of whom must be a specialist in Translation Studies) and at least one from another department.*  The committee must include a member who is expert in the literature of the student's primary concentration.

 

 

M.A. with Thesis

By the beginning of the third semester, in consultation with the student's M.A. committee, the student chooses a thesis topic and writes a thesis prospectus. The prospectus must be defended by the end of the student's third semester, so as to allow a four-month time period between the acceptance of the prospectus and the defense of the thesis.* 

 

The thesis for the M.A. in Translation Studies is between 20,000 and 25,000 words if the student chooses to do a descriptive, historical, or theoretical topic.  If a student elects to do a translation as the thesis, the translation is 10,000-15,000 words (or other appropriate size to be determined by the committee, depending on form and content), plus a translator's introduction of approximately 10,000-12,000 words.  Theses must include bibliographies of all works read in conjunction with the research undertaken for the thesis. 

 

After the thesis has been completed and submitted to all committee members, there is a thesis defense of two hours.  The thesis defense is public and announced at least two weeks in advance to all members of the Comparative Literature faculty and graduate program.  Questions at the thesis defense may also address the scope of the student's entire course of study for the M.A.

 

Immediately after the defense, the M.A. committee decides whether the student has submitted an acceptable thesis and defended it adequately, thus fulfilling the final requirements for the M.A. in Translation Studies.  The decision is based on both the written thesis and the oral defense.  The examiners choose from two possible outcomes:  pass or fail.  The recommendation of all but one member of the M.A. committee is required for the student to be eligible for receiving the M.A.  The decision of the committee is made known immediately after the committee has conferred.

 

In the event of a negative decision by the committee, the M.A. committee consults with the Graduate Program Director during the week following the thesis defense.  The Graduate Program Director thereupon informs the student either that permission to resubmit the thesis and to have a second and final defense has been granted or that termination of graduate studies will be recommended.

 

*(Specified in the Graduate Bulletin)


For further information, call (413) 545-0929, or write to the Graduate Program Director, Comparative Literature Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA 01003.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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