The William H. Gass Award is given to an internationally known writer in the international writers track who serves a mentorship role by working with current students and recruiting prospective students.
This Ph.D. track in Comparative Literature aimed at international writers proceeds from the conviction that advanced study and credentials in literary studies support and enhance the intellectual and creative work of writers by complementing and informing their endeavors with comparative historical, cultural, linguistic, and theoretical frameworks. It offers highly qualified international students the opportunity to advance their careers with academic training in comparative literary studies in the United States.
“Writer” in our sense comprises fiction writers, poets, essayists, journalists, translators, screenwriters, filmmakers, and public intellectuals. As an internationally renowned center of literary study in multiple languages and home to one of the best creative writing programs in the country, Washington University offers a rich intellectual and cultural foundation for writers from all backgrounds. We recruit candidates who would benefit from pursuing such studies in a context where they can simultaneously work on their writing, make literary contacts, pursue comparative literary and theoretical studies and complete translations of their work (collaborating with fellow graduate students when appropriate). Students completing the program are not necessarily expected to pursue university teaching positions in the United States or elsewhere worldwide, although they may choose to do so; the degree is offered with the expectation that it will help them enter the world of writing and publishing beyond the academy and in their respective home countries.
This podcast features William Gass Fellow Matthias Goeritz and Director of Comparative Literature, Professor Lynne Tatlock. The two of them discuss the track for international writers and their course, "Literature in the Making."
Time to Degree and Requirements
The ideal candidate comes with an M.F.A. or M.A. in literature or a closely related field, excellent English, proficiency in one or two additional languages related to his or her work, and a history (however brief) of experience as a writer. The time frame at Washington University is 4 or 5 years total, consisting of 2 years of course work, including electives devoted to an aspect of the student’s writing, 1 semester of exams that prepare the student for writing the dissertation, and 1 ½ to 2 1/2 years writing the dissertation. The dissertation itself may combine research and creative writing. Core course and language requirements are the same as those for our regular Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and include a great deal of latitude in the form of electives. For these general requirements, click here.
Ph.D. candidates in the track for international writers will receive 4-5 years of tuition remission and stipends in the form of fellowships. Some summer support may be available as well. Students have the opportunity to engage in mentored teaching experiences, making various contributions that may not be in the traditional form of classroom instruction. Rather, students may be called upon to assist in translation and translation studies, writing workshops associated with the M.F.A. program at Washington University, and community outreach events, and to work with the Washington University Center for the Humanities. Teaching opportunities will be tailored to each student’s qualifications and goals.