The Department of Comparative Studies offers interdisciplinary graduate degree programs in the study of culture at both the M.A. and the Ph.D. levels. For graduate students enrolled in other departments at Ohio State, the Department offers the Graduate Minor.
Graduate work in Comparative Studies is interdisciplinary and cross-cultural, addressing complex processes of cultural change, stability, and interaction, with particular attention to the construction of knowledge and the dynamics of power and authority. Questions of difference—racial, gender, sexual, class, ethnic, national—and the ways in which those categorizations inform and are informed by other discourses and practices are central to scholarship in comparative studies.
Such an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the study of culture assumes both flexibility and rigor in terms of theory, methodology, and object of study. The M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Studies are designed for students whose scholarly interests require them to call upon the resources of several academic disciplines. Each graduate student, with the help of faculty advisers, designs an individualized academic program to meet specific research interests that cut across departmental and college boundaries. As a part of this process, students are encouraged to question the configuration of disciplinary boundaries and to place in historical context the development of disciplinary structures and their objects of study.
Students must develop a clear area of concentration and sound theoretical foundations for their individual programs in order to attain depth of knowledge, as well as breadth. Expertise of Comparative Studies faculty members is similarly focused in comparative ethnic and American studies; comparative literature; critical race theory; cultural anthropology; cultural studies; folklore; postcolonial studies; religious studies; science studies; social and cultural theory; urban studies; and visual culture, with specific attention to the interrelatedness among the cultural and historical domains these fields represent. Within their focus areas, students are encouraged to develop inquiries that attend to the cultural and historical contexts of the particular subject in question.
The element of comparison, both within and across cultures and borders, is important to faculty and student research. Comparisons may be drawn among the several discourses and practices of a single society, group of people, geographical region, or historical era. Research projects may also involve the comparison of specific genres and media—textual, performative, material—across cultures. Both approaches to comparative work are encouraged; most projects will involve elements of both, since contextualization is integral to all such studies. The function of comparison is not to discover differences and similarities, but to understand more comprehensively the political, social, economic, and aesthetic dimensions of the various discourses and practices that constitute social and individual life.