The Master of Western Literature is a unique initial master's programme aimed at an in-depth, intercultural and comparative study of literature in different Western traditions and epochs. As one of the world's oldest universities, located in a multi-lingual society and at the heart of Europe, KU Leuven is a unique location for a programme that focuses on the dynamic interactions between various literatures, languages, and cultures, as well as on intercultural and international aspects of literature.
This master's programme stands out both nationally and internationally for its advanced degree of specialisation in literary studies and its unique intercultural and multilingual perspective.
Specialists in various national literatures and in literary theory collaborate to ensure the high level and quality of the courses. The programme's broad spectrum of national literatures allows you to combine these according to your own interests and thus to deepen your knowledge, à la carte. At the same time, this advanced level of specialisation is combined with a critical, theoretical and broadly comparative perspective. Finally, the concept of 'Western' literatures is thoroughly examined and questioned against the background of more general social, political, and cultural perspectives, both from historical and contemporary points of view.
This is an initial master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.
The programme does not take for granted the key terms in its title: 'Western' and 'literature.' Rather, it aims to investigate the development of literature, literary systems, and traditions in the West and to address the challenges that these phenomena meet with in our contemporary globalised society.
Notions like the canon, tradition, literary genre, and poetics are critically examined and placed within relevant historical contexts. They are studied in relation to the general concepts that determine them, such as civilization, culture, identity, and alterity. The idea of 'Western' literature is also scrutinized from an ideological perspective: what is the relation between literature, nation, language and territory and how has this relation changed in a context of decolonization, globalization, and changing relations between East and West? Within this general theoretical and comparative perspective, the 'building blocks' of Western literature - the different linguistic or national literary traditions - are not neglected and a wide range of elective courses offer ample opportunities for studying these literatures in more detail.
As a graduate of the Master of Western Literature programme, you will have acquired a wide range of skills that you will be able to use in a large number of professional contexts. Your strengths will mainly be your ability to reflect on complex cultural phenomena, your insight into and facility with plurilingualism and interculturality, and your ability to bring those insights across in the media and/or in educational contexts.
Through your advanced insight in intercultural relations, you will be exceptionally well placed to work in an international context (e.g., embassies, European institutions, translating services, and international companies). In addition, you will have acquired an extensive knowledge of literature and the skills for reporting on it. The publishing world, the media, and journalism will therefore offer more possibilities.
After taking a teacher training programme, you will also be able to start teaching.
The master's programme in Literary Studies at Leiden University offers you a specialised qualification in one of four languages and cultures or a comparative perspective on literature and culture, with each programme offering considerable scope for individual customisation.
We believe that freedom plays an important role in unlocking potential. The master’s programme in Literary Studies has a high degree of flexibility to enable you to tailor the programme to your particular interests. Your curriculum could include a single or combined major and electives from other specialisations – even other master’s programmes. You are also free to go abroad for a specific university course or an internship in order to deepen or widen your focus.
Academics from the renowned Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) teach the master’s programme in Literary Studies. This means that every class you attend is taught by scholars of international standing who are true experts in their fields. Small, interactive classes or one-on-one mentoring ensure you get the most from their expert guidance and advice. An important objective is to teach you the value of questioning: you will acquire a broad, investigative and critical approach to problem solving that can be applied to any challenge in any role.