The Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics

The Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics

The Departments of Comparative Literature and Philosophy at Penn State offer a doctoral minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. This minor responds to the continuing growth of interest in literary theory and criticism and to the increasing number of teaching positions for holders of doctorates in literature with a secondary specialization in literary theory and criticism, as well as to the need for holders of doctorates in philosophy to teach in fields to which their discipline may lend theoretical support.

tree figure by sea

The minor strengthens the training of students in literature and in related fields by providing a coherent philosophical and theoretical basis for their advanced work. The program widens the scope of issues in the study of philosophy and comparative literature, and it provides interdisciplinary support for students in other liberal arts doctoral programs, such as English, foreign languages and literatures, history, speech communication, and the social sciences. In addition, the program can provide a basis for graduate programs outside the College of the Liberal Arts, including those in music and in the visual arts.

Students in the program will develop an individualized course of study in consultation with their advisers for the minor (one adviser from Comparative Literature and one from Philosophy; see list of advisers below). A minimum of 15 credits in addition to those required for the major should be chosen from the list of courses below. Six required credits (3 in comparative literature and 3 in philosophy) will serve as the basis for a historical study of literary theory and criticism and philosophical aesthetics. Students who take this minor must include one of the designated advisers of the minor on their doctoral committees.

Courses Included in the Minor:

Students must take six credits (3 in each discipline) from asterisked (*)courses.


PHIL 409* Aesthetics
PHIL 413 Philosophy of Literature (upon advising)
PHIL 502 European Philosophy (upon advising)
PHIL 516* Seminar in Aesthetics
PHIL 581 Hermeneutics

Comparative Literature

CLIT 502* Comparative Criticism I: The Greeks to 1800
CLIT 503* Comparative Criticism II: 1800 to the Present
CLIT 580 Contemporary Literary Theory


ENGL 581 Modern British and American Criticism
ENGL 582 Contemporary Literary Theory
ENGL 583 Studies in Critical Theory

Speech Communication

SPCOM 503 Seminar in criticism
SPCOM 505 History of Rhetorical Theory
SPCOM 507 Seminar in Rhetorical Theory Building (upon advising)


FR 571 French Literary Criticism from Saint-Beuve to the Present


HIST 523 History and Theory

Art History

ART H 410 Taste and Criticism in Art


SPAN 587 Stylistic and Literary Criticism


GER 510 Literary Theory and its Applications
GER 591 Seminar in German Literary Criticism

Theater Arts

THEA 503 Theatre Criticism and Theory
THEA 504 Theories of Modern Theatre Practice

Doctoral students interested in the minor should contact one of the following designated advisers for further information:

Dennis Schmidt

Aesthetics; ancient Greek literature and philosophy; contemporary Continental thought

Thomas O. Beebee

History of criticism; Translation theory; German literary and cultural theory

Vincent Colapietro

Literary Theory; Translation Theory; Semiotics; Poststructuralism; Pragmatism

Nergis Erturk

Theories of modernity; postcolonial theory; poststructuralism

Emily Grosholz

Poetry and poetics, especially the role of form in creating meaning in poetry; Romanticism

Sophia A. McClennen

Gender theory; postcolonial theory; media theory

Allan Stoekl

French Criticism and Theory, especially of the 20th Century