Romance Languages and Literatures

University of California, Berkeley

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 they normally would 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.

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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:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree 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
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. 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, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions 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.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement 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 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


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.

Writing Samples

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

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):

  • 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)
1 Screening Interview
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:

  1. Advance to candidacy;
  2. Write a dissertation prospectus, which must be submitted within three months of the date of the QE (during the eighth or ninth semester); and,
  3. 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.


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Italian Studies


Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Deborah Anne Blocker, Professor. Early modern French literature and history.
Research Profile

* Karl A. Britto, Associate Professor. Africa, cultural studies, the Caribbean, literature, francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial literature, Vietnam, gender and identity.
Research Profile

William M. Burton , Assistant Professor. French literature, gender, sexuality, and feminism, (especially lesbianism), intellectual history, translation studies, Quebec studies.
Research Profile

* 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.
Research Profile

Richard G. Kern, Professor. Literacy, second language acquisition, writing, psycholinguistics, reading, French language, French linguistics, technology and education.
Research Profile

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 .
Research Profile

Susan Maslan, Associate Professor. French, early modern French literary, political history, the enlightenment, human rights.
Research Profile

Mairi Mclaughlin, 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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

* Debarati Sanyal, Professor. Violence, poetry, the relationship between literary form, politics in 19th-century France, the connection between performance, performativity, ethics in modernist texts.
Research Profile

Soraya Tlatli, Associate Professor. Francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial studies, literature and psychoanalysis, twentieth-century continental philosophy.
Research Profile

Damon R. Young, Associate Professor. Film theory, digital media, global art cinema, gender and sexuality studies, critical theory.


Michael Arrigo, Lecturer.

Daniel Hoffmann, Lecturer.

Vesna Rodic, Lecturer.

Ariel Shannon, Lecturer.

Rachel Shuh, Lecturer.

Maya Sidhu, Lecturer.

Margot Szarke, Lecturer.

Claire Tourmen, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Esther Alder, Professor Emeritus.

Leo Bersani, Professor Emeritus.

Ulysse Dutoit, Professor Emeritus.

Suzanne Guerlac, Professor Emerita. Nationalism, literature, philosophy, 19th- and 20th-century literature, myths of literature and theory, contemporary cultural criticism.
Research Profile

Basil Guy, Professor Emeritus.

David Hult, Professor Emeritus. Literary theory, medieval French literature, allegory, hermeneutics, text editing, French Studies.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile


Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Research Profile

Henrike Lange, Assistant Professor. Medieval art.

Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor. Renaissance Europe, History of Books and Reading, history of political thought, History of Historiography.
Research Profile

Barbara Spackman, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, culture, fascism, gender studies, comparative literature, Italian studies, narrative, European decadence, travel writing.
Research Profile

Rhiannon Welch, Associate Professor.


* Anna M. Bellezza, Continuing Lecturer.

Giuliana Perco, Continuing Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Albert Russell Ascoli, Professor Emeritus. Italy, national identity, literature and history, Dante, authorship and authority, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Boccaccio, epic and romance, Renaissance, early modern, Middle Ages.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Anthony J. Cascardi, Professor. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
Research Profile

Justin Davidson, Associate Professor. Spanish linguistics, romance linguistics, contact linguistics, bilingualism, Catalan, sociophonetics, language variation and change, quantitative methods.
Research Profile

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 .
Research Profile

Daylet Dominguez, Associate Professor. Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures.
Research Profile

Michael Iarocci, Professor. Spanish, literature.
Research Profile

Tom McEnaney, Associate 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.
Research Profile

Nasser Meerkhan, Assistant Professor. Transcultural, transtemporal and translinguistic texts, Medieval Iberia.
Research Profile

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 .
Research Profile

Alexandra Saum Pascual, Associate Professor. Spain, electronic literature, contemporary literature, digital humanities, new media.
Research Profile

Candace Slater, Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Estelle Tarica, Associate Professor. Latin America, Mexico, race, nationalism, Spanish, mestizo, Indians, Andes, Bolivia, Peru, Holocaust, Quechua.
Research Profile

Nathaniel Wolfson, Assistant Professor. Avant-garde poetry and aesthetics, media studies, literature and philosophy, comparative modernisms and the history of science and technology.
Research Profile

Amir Effat, Lecturer.

Jose Roman Lujan Perez, Lecturer.

Oscar Perea Rodriguez, Lecturer.

Jhonni Carr, Lecturer.

Clelia Francesca Donovan, Lecturer.

Miriam Hernandez-Rodriguez, Lecturer.

Ana Belen Redondo Campillos, Lecturer.

Victoria Martinez Robertson, Lecturer.

Donna A. Southard, Lecturer.

Tanya Varela, Lecturer.

Amelia R. Barili, Lecturer Emerita.

Arthur L. Askins, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Milton M. Azevedo, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Emilie L. Bergmann, Professor Emeritus. Early modern Spain, colonial Spanish America, Spanish literature, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, visual studies, gender and sexuality studies.
Research Profile

Jerry R. Craddock, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Dru Dougherty, Professor Emeritus. Poetry, stage history, Valle-Inclan, Spanish poetics, war and literature.
Research Profile

Charles Faulhaber, Professor Emeritus. Medieval Spanish literature, medieval rhetoric, codicology, paleography, computerization of scholarly methodology.
Research Profile

* Francine R. Masiello, Professor Emerita. Gender theory, culture, globalization, comparative literature, Spanish, Latin American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, comparative North and South literatures.
Research Profile

John H. R. Polt, Professor Emeritus. Spanish literature, 18th century, 19th century.
Research Profile

Jose Rabasa, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Julio Ramos, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Romance Languages and Literatures

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2714

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Mia Fuller

Graduate Student Services Advisor: French Emphasis

Evan Faidley

Graduate Student Services Advisor: Italian Emphasis

Seth Arnopole

Graduate Student Services Advisor: Spanish Emphasis

Verónica López

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