About the Program
The PhD program in Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL) is offered jointly by the Departments of French, Italian Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese, and administered by a director and executive committee who are faculty members in those departments. The program affords students the opportunity to undertake more detailed comparative studies among the Romance languages and their literary cultures than is normally the case in any single department’s program. It is founded upon the belief that a truly comprehensive understanding of any of the major romance languages and its literature must be nourished by a substantial degree of familiarity with all of them.
Students opt for a program track in either Literature or Linguistics. They choose one language/literature from among those taught in the three participating departments as their main emphasis (the primary language/literature), but must also complete substantial coursework in the other departments, and their eventual dissertation must deal with more than one Romance language/literature. The RLL program's admissions process, funding, requirements, and administration are separate from those of the three participating departments, but RLL students are normally affiliated with the department of their primary language/literature (the host department) for social and employment purposes, and receive program-related advising from a designated faculty member (the head graduate adviser for RLL students) in that department.
Admission to the University
Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
- If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
- Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Required Documents for Applications
- Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
- Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
- Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
- courses in English as a Second Language,
- courses conducted in a language other than English,
- courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
- courses of a non-academic nature.
If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from the British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.
Where to Apply
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
Students must apply to RLL, not to one of the single-language PhD programs in the three participating departments. The program’s executive committee, on which all three departments are represented, acts as its admissions committee.
Choice of Emphasis
One language/literature taught in the Departments of French, Italian Studies, or Spanish and Portuguese must be chosen as the student's primary language/literature; the department teaching it will become his/her host department upon admission to the program.
At least two writing samples (no more than 10 pages) are required: one in English and one in the student’s proposed primary language. A third writing sample, in a romance language other than the proposed primary language, may be provided but is not required. Writing samples may include research papers or excerpts from honors theses; they should deal with a topic relevant to the field of Romance Languages and/or Literatures, and should represent what the applicant feels to be his or her best work to date.
GRE Scores are required for admission to RLL. Applicants must authorize the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send the official score report to Berkeley. Berkeley’s institution code is 4833.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
Normative Time Requirements
The normative time allowance for the program is set at six years or twelve semesters. The normative time for advancement to candidacy (time to qualifying examination) is four years or eight semesters.
Time to Advancement
All RLL students follow an individual program plan tailored to their own interests and goals, which is worked out in close collaboration with the faculty member serving as head graduate adviser for RLL in their host department and with the RLL executive committee. Students meet with the executive committee early in their first semester for a screening Interview at which the broad outline of their first two years in the program is sketched out. Their progress is then monitored throughout this period by their faculty adviser. They meet with the executive committee again in their fifth semester, for a progress review at which they are advised on preparation for the qualifying examination, normally taken in the seventh or eighth semester.
Before taking the qualifying examination, students must have satisfied the following requirements (the details of how and when these requirements are to be satisfied will vary from student to student, according to the individual program plan):
- Pass, with a grade of B or better, both of two core courses: Linguistic History of the Romance Languages (FRENCH C202/ITALIAN C201/SPANISH C202) and Comparative Studies in Romance Literatures and Cultures (FRENCH C203/ITALIAN C201/SPANISH C203).
- Achieve and demonstrate advanced competency in at least one Romance language taught in each of the three participating departments.
- Achieve and demonstrate competency in Latin.
A typical timeline is as follows:
|Semester||Requirement (Completed by end of semester)|
|2||(Advanced competency in 1st Romance language demonstrated)|
|3||(Advanced competency in 2nd Romance language demonstrated)|
|4||(Advanced competency in 3rd Romance language demonstrated)|
|5||Progress Review. (Competency in Latin demonstrated)|
|6||Core courses completed. Statements and reading-lists for Qualifying Examination submitted.|
|7 or 8||Qualifying Examination. Advancement to Candidacy|
Time in Candidacy
After passing the qualifying examination, students:
- Advance to candidacy;
- Write a dissertation prospectus, which must be submitted within three months of the date of the QE (during the eighth or ninth semester); and,
- Upon approval of the prospectus, write a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is expected (but not required) to be filed by the end of the twelfth semester since the student entered the program.
Required Professional Development
Students are required to teach for at least part of their time in the program: they normally begin by teaching a section of a language course in their host department, but opportunities to teach either in other departments, or other types of course, or both, usually become available in later semesters, according to each individual student's aptitudes and qualifications.
Students are encouraged to attend and present at relevant scholarly meetings and conferences, and are mentored for this by program faculty according to the details of their individual program plan.
Graduate Program Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the program will have made a significant contribution to scholarship, by writing a doctoral dissertation in the field of romance linguistic and/or literary studies, and will have received individualized training that equips them to accept academic positions either in departments teaching one or more romance languages and literatures, or in departments of linguistics.
Select a subject to view courses
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Deborah Anne Blocker, Associate Professor. Early modern French literature and history.
+ Karl A. Britto, Associate Professor. Africa, cultural studies, the Caribbean, literature, francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial literature, Vietnam, gender and identity.
Eglantine L. Colon, Assistant Professor. French.
Suzanne Guerlac, Professor. Nationalism, literature, philosophy, 19th- and 20th-century literature, myths of literature and theory, contemporary cultural criticism.
+ Timothy Hampton, Professor. Culture, politics, English, comparative literature, French, renaissance and early modern European culture, the romance languages, the ideology of literary genre, the literary construction of nationhood, the rhetoric of historiography.
David Hult, Professor. Literary theory, medieval French literature, allegory, hermeneutics, text editing, French Studies.
Richard G. Kern, Professor. Literacy, second language acquisition, writing, psycholinguistics, reading, French language, French linguistics, technology and education.
Michael Lucey, Professor. Pragmatics, the novel, sexuality studies, comparative literature, French, French literature, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, British literature and culture, social and literary theory, cultural studies of music, studies of language in use, theories of practice, twentieth-century American literature .
Susan Maslan, Associate Professor. French, early modern French literary, political history, the enlightenment, human rights.
Mairi Mclaughlin, Associate Professor. French linguistics, Italian linguistics, romance linguistics, translation studies, history of French, History of Italian, History of the Romance Languages, language contact, History of the Press, Speech Reporting.
Nicholas Paige, Professor. Cinema (French New Wave), 17th- and 18th-century French literature and culture, history and theory of the novel, quantitative literary history and digital humanities, aesthetics and image theory, subjectivity and autobiography.
+ Debarati Sanyal, Professor. Violence, poetry, the relationship between literary form, politics in 19th-century France, the connection between performance, performativity, ethics in modernist texts.
Soraya Tlatli, Associate Professor. Francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial studies, literature and psychoanalysis, twentieth-century continental philosophy.
Damon R. Young, Assistant Professor.
Daniel Hoffmann, Lecturer.
Vesna Rodic, Lecturer.
Ariel Shannon, Lecturer.
Rachel Shuh, Lecturer.
Maya Sidhu, Lecturer.
Margot Szarke, Lecturer.
Claire Tourmen, Lecturer.
Esther Alder, Professor Emeritus.
Leo Bersani, Professor Emeritus.
Ulysse Dutoit, Professor Emeritus.
Basil Guy, Professor Emeritus.
Leonard W. Johnson, Professor Emeritus.
Thomas M. Kavanagh, Professor Emeritus.
Ann Smock, Professor Emeritus. Poetry, French, France during World War II, the Algerian War, 20th-century writing by women, relations between literature and music, Jacques Roubaud, Danielle Collobert.
Albert Russell Ascoli, Professor. Italy, national identity, literature and history, Dante, authorship and authority, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Boccaccio, epic and romance, Renaissance, early modern, Middle Ages.
Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Henrike Lange, Assistant Professor.
Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor. Renaissance Europe, History of Books and Reading, history of political thought, History of Historiography.
Barbara Spackman, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, culture, fascism, gender studies, comparative literature, Italian studies, narrative, European decadence, travel writing.
Anna M. Bellezza, Lecturer.
Mara Mauri Jacobsen, Lecturer.
Giuliana Perco, Lecturer.
Marina Romani, Lecturer.
Gavriel Moses, Professor Emeritus. Violence, body, comparative literature, Italian studies, film studies, English literatures, philology, film making, Italian cinema history and genres, auteur effects in Antonioni Kieslowski and Rohmer, cultural objects in cinema, novels on film, love.
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Emilie L. Bergmann, Professor. Early modern Spain, colonial Spanish America, Spanish literature, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, visual studies, gender and sexuality studies.
Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Anthony J. Cascardi, Dean of Arts & Humanities. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
Justin Davidson, Assistant Professor. Spanish linguistics, romance linguistics, contact linguistics, bilingualism, Catalan, sociophonetics, language variation and change, quantitative methods.
Ivonne Del Valle, Associate Professor. Colonial period in Mexico, internal colonialism in Mexico, Jesuits (Loyola, Acosta, Baegert), Baroque and Enlightenment from a colonial perspective, technology and environment, drainage of Mexico City lakes, Christianity and Pre-Hispanic religions .
Daylet Dominguez, Assistant Professor. Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures.
Michael Iarocci, Professor. Spanish, literature.
Tom McEnaney, Assistant Professor. Connections between Argentine, Cuban, and U S literature, the history of media and technology, sound studies, linguistic anthropology, computational (digital) humanities and new media studies.
Nasser Meerkhan, Assistant Professor. Transcultural, transtemporal and translinguistic texts, Medieval Iberia.
Ignacio Navarrete, Professor. Spanish literature: poetry, poetic theory, narrative and culture, history of the book, Cervantes, Don Quixote, Medieval and Early Modern Spanish literature Modern Spain .
Alexandra Saum Pascual, Assistant Professor. Spain, electronic literature, contemporary literature, digital humanities, new media.
Candace Slater, Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Estelle Tarica, Associate Professor. Latin America, Mexico, race, nationalism, Spanish, mestizo, Indians, Andes, Bolivia, Peru, Holocaust, Quechua.
Nathaniel Wolfson, Assistant Professor. Avant-garde poetry and aesthetics, media studies, literature and philosophy, comparative modernisms and the history of science and technology.
Amelia R. Barili, Lecturer.
Jhonni Carr, Lecturer.
Agnes Dimitriou, Lecturer.
Clelia Francesca Donovan, Lecturer.
Miriam Hernandez-Rodriguez, Lecturer.
Elena B. Olsen, Lecturer.
Duarte Carvalho Pinheiro, Lecturer.
Ana Belen Redondo Campillos, Lecturer.
Victoria Martinez Robertson, Lecturer.
Donna A. Southard, Lecturer.
Tanya Varela, Lecturer.
Arthur L. Askins, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Milton M. Azevedo, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, Spanish, Portuguese.
Jerry R. Craddock, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Dru Dougherty, Professor Emeritus. Poetry, stage history, Valle-Inclan, Spanish poetics, war and literature.
Charles Faulhaber, Professor Emeritus. Medieval Spanish literature, medieval rhetoric, codicology, paleography, computerization of scholarly methodology.
+ Francine R. Masiello, Professor Emeritus. Gender theory, culture, globalization, comparative literature, Spanish, Latin American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, comparative North and South literatures.
John H. R. Polt, Professor Emeritus. Spanish literature, 18th century, 19th century.
Jose Rabasa, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Julio Ramos, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Romance Languages and Literatures
4125 Dwinelle Hall