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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Modern Thought and Literature

Director: Ursula K. Heise

Committee in Charge:(Chair) Ursula K. Heise, Scott Bukatman, Joshua Cohen, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Hans U. Gumbrecht (on leave), Sean Hanretta, Andrea A. Lunsford, Saikat Majumdar, Robert McGinn, Paula Moya, Helen Stacy, Fred Turner

Affiliated Faculty: Lanier Anderson (Philosophy), Shahzad Bashir (Religious Studies), Scott Bukatman (Art and Art History), Eamonn Callan (Education), Joshua Cohen (Political Science, Philosophy, Law), Jean-Pierre Dupuy (French and Italian), Paulla Ebron (Anthropology), Dan Edelstein (French and Italian), Harry Elam (Drama), Michele Elam (English), Amir Eshel (German Studies), Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English), James Ferguson (Anthropology), Gregory Freidin (Slavic Languages and Literatures), Theodore Glasser (Communication), Roland Greene (English, Comparative Literature), Hans U. Gumbrecht (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), Sean Hanretta (History), Ursula K. Heise (English), Matthew Kohrman (Anthropology), Joshua Landy (French and Italian), Helen Longino (Philosophy), Andrea A. Lunsford (English), Saikat Majumdar (English), Liisa Malkki (Anthropology), Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz (Art and Art History), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering; Science, Technology, and Society), Franco Moretti (English, Comparative Literature), Paula Moya (English), Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi (French and Italian), David Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Arnold Rampersad (English), Richard Roberts (History), Ramůn SaldŪvar (English, Comparative Literature), Priya Satia (History), Debra Satz (Philosophy), Londa Schiebinger (History), Stephen Sohn (English), Helen Stacy (Law), Fred Turner (Communication), Richard White (History), Bryan Wolf (Art and Art History), Alex Woloch (English), Sylvia Yanagisako (Anthropology), Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano (Iberian and Latin American Cultures)

Program Offices: Building 460, Room 216

Mail Code: 94305-2022

Phone: (650) 723-3413


Web Site:

Courses offered by the Program in Modern Thought and Literature are listed under the subject code MTL on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The program in Modern Thought and Literature admits students for the Ph.D. and a limited number for a coterminal B.A./M.A. Program.

Undergraduate Programs in Modern Thought and Literature

Although Modern Thought and Literature has no formal undergraduate degree granting program, undergraduates interested in completing a major in this field may do so through the Individually Designed Majors Program. Students interested in this option should consult the Director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature, in addition to the Dean's Office in the School of Humanities and Sciences, which administers the IDM Programs.

Graduate Programs in Modern Thought and Literature

Modern Thought and Literature (MTL) is an interdisciplinary graduate program advancing the study of critical issues in the modern world. Since 1971, MTL students have helped to redefine the cutting edge of many interdisciplinary fields and to reshape the ways in which disciplinary scholarship is understood and practiced. MTL graduates are leaders in fields such as American studies, ethnic studies, film studies, social and cultural studies, and women's studies, as well as disciplines such as English, cultural anthropology, and comparative literature.

The program trains students to understand the histories and methods of disciplines and to test their assumptions. It considers how disciplines shape knowledge and, most importantly, how interdisciplinary methods reshape objects of study. MTL students produce innovative analyses of diverse texts, forms, and practices, including those of literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, law, and science; film, visual arts, popular culture, and performance; and material culture and technology.

Each student constructs a unique program of study suited to his or her research. Students have focused on such areas as gender and sexuality; race and ethnicity; science, technology, and medicine; media and performance; legal studies; and critical and social theory. The program's faculty is drawn from fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as from education, law, and medicine. As interdisciplinary study is impossible without an understanding of the disciplines under consideration, each student is expected to master the methods of one discipline and to gain a foundation in a second field.


The Master of Arts is available to students who are admitted to the doctoral program. Students are not admitted into the program for the purpose of earning a terminal Master of Arts degree. Candidates for the Ph.D. who satisfy the committee of their progress and satisfactorily complete 45 units of course work forming a coherent program of study, may apply for an M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature.

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