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Western Literature

Course Description

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. Exploring tacit assumptions like 'Western' and 'literature,' you will learn to understand literature as a complex cultural phenomenon in constant interaction with society. 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.


The aim of this programme is to introduce students to the concept and texts of Western literature, both from a general (theoretical, historical, conceptual) perspective and through more specific case studies and research questions. Attention is devoted to the in-depth study of specific research questions and literary traditions as well as to a comparative analysis of the interactions between different literatures, languages and cultures.

Final attainment levels
- The student is well acquainted with the current state of research about Western literature and has developed a more specific competence in a number of sub-disciplines of this research.
- The student has mastered a number of research skills: (1) she is able to describe, situate and analyse general and specific research questions about Western literature; (2) she is able to make connections between general aspects of Western literature and more specific questions or sub-disciplines; (3) she is able to independently and thoroughly investigate into a specific topic in the context of Western literature and to report on her findings
- The student is able to report in oral and in written form about research in the domain of Western literature, both for a specialised and for a larger public.
The student has obtained insight into complex forms of interaction in Western literature and has acquired a multilingual and intercultural attitude which becomes evident in her communicative and linguistic skills (such as being able to interact in a multilingual context).
- The student is able to use the acquired knowledge and skills in a wide variety of social and professional contexts.

[[Career paths]]
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.

Entry Requirements

Direct admission: Bachelor in de taal- en letterkunde. After admission: Bachelor in Linguistics and Literature. Students with a degree other than 'Bachelor in de taal- en letterkunde' (e.g. Bachelor's degree in a modern language, including literary theory) are required to submit a file showing substantial academic background in the field of study. More information: www.kuleuven.be/admissions

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