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Modern Thought and Literature

Director: Paula M. L. Moya

Steering Committee: Paula M.L. Moya (Chair), Joshua Cohen, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Zephyr Frank, Sean Hanretta, Pavle Levi, Andrea A. Lunsford, Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz , Jisha Menon, José David Saldívar, Alex Woloch

Affiliated Faculty: Lanier Anderson (Philosophy), Eamonn Callan (Education), Russell Berman (German Studies), Joshua Cohen (Political Science, Philosophy, Law), Jean-Pierre Dupuy (French and Italian), Paulla Ebron (Anthropology), Harry Elam (Drama), Michele Elam (English), Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English), James Ferguson (Anthropology), Zephyr Frank (History), Gregory Freidin (Slavic Languages and Literatures), Hans U. Gumbrecht (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), Sean Hanretta (History), Ursula K. Heise (English), Matthew Kohrman (Anthropology), Aishwary Kumar (History), Pam Lee (Art and Art History), Pavle Levi (Art and Art History), Helen Longino (Philosophy), Andrea A. Lunsford (English), Saikat Majumdar (English), Liisa Malkki (Anthropology), Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz (Art and Art History), Dourlas McAdam (Sociology), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering; Science, Technology, and Society), Jisha Menon (Drama), Franco Moretti (English, Comparative Literature), Paula Moya (English), Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi (French and Italian), Josiah Ober (Political Science), David Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Peggy Phelan (Drama), Richard Roberts (History), José David Saldívar (Comparative Literature), Ramón Saldívar (English, Comparative Literature), Priya Satia (History), Debra Satz (Philosophy), Londa Schiebinger (History), Stephen Sohn (English), Helen Stacy (Law), Elizabeth Tallent (English), Fred Turner (Communication), Richard White (History), Bryan Wolf (Art and Art History), Alex Woloch (English), Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano (Iberian and Latin American Cultures)

Program Offices: Building 460, Room 219

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 apply to the Individually Designed Majors Program in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Students interested in this option should consult the Director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature and 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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