Doctoral Program Literature (30 ECTS)

PhD Program in English and American Literary Studies

The English Department has offered a PhD Program in English and American Literary Studies since 2011. Students in this program complete a monograph dissertation and earn 30 ECTS points through a combination of curricular activities including doctoral colloquia, workshops, international conferences, scholarly publications, organization of colloquia, and/or courses in university pedagogy or professional skills.

Upcoming Events 2017

An overview of all events scheduled can be found here (PDF, 126 KB).

Workshop: Christopher Ricks, 18 February 2017


Sir Christopher Ricks (University Professor, Boston University; formerly Professor of Poetry at Oxford and King Edward VII Professor of English at Cambridge) will be speaking and leading a discussion/workshop on "Bob Dylan, Milton, and parts of speech." As one of the world's authorities on both Dylan and Milton, Ricks will juxtapose the two, as he has already done in publications.

The workshop will take place at the English Seminar, PLH-1-105, 2pm-4pm.

Workshop: Literature and Violence, 10-11 March 2017


Friday, March 10th 2017, 4-6 pm, PLH-1-102

The workshop will open with the guest lecture “Towards Post-Terrorism: From Orientalism to Divine Violence” by Dr. Pavan Malreddy, dealing with the paradoxical affiliation between ‘terrorism’, counter-terrorism and national liberation struggles both in the pre- and post-9/11 context. This will be followed by a group discussion.

Saturday, March 11th 2017, 10-12 am & 2-4 pm, PLH-1-102

The morning session will consist of a discussion of select theoretical texts on violence (by Slavoj Zizek, Signe Larsen and Achille Mbembe). In the afternoon there will be a session in which students and members of staff can present their work in progress and relate their research to the ideas discussed in the workshop.

Workshop: Texts and Contexts, 5-6 May 2017


This workshop is intended for PhD students interested in exploring the best strategies for writing about their primary texts in relation to the period, culture and nation system they stem from; how this influences the nature of the texts and the formal techniques and literary devices selected by the author(s); and the importance of reading the texts both against their original context as well as against the backdrop of our own culture and time.

Students are welcome to present their work and profit from feedback from Prof. Paulo de Medeiros, who has ample experience supervising PhD theses in the areas of European modernism, postcolonial studies and world literatures at the University of Warwick and the University of Utrecht.

Workshop: Literature, Cinema and Geopolitics, 14-16 May 2017


This workshop with Prof. Anna Stenport (Georgia Institute of Technology), Prof. Scott MacKenzie (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada), Prof. Philip Steinberg (Durham) and Prof. Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway University) will explore the intersection of literature, cinema and geopolitics by examining two test cases: the contested spaces of the Arctic, and the political geographies of James Bond.

Workshop: Siri Hustvedt, 21 June 2017


Author Siri Hustvedt will be present for a doctoral workshop on Life Writing. Discussing Life Writing from the particular standpoint of authorship, this workshop is designed to offer unique insights, in conversation with Siri Hustvedt who, in addition to discussing her latest work, The Blazing World, will respond to questions raised in the ensuing discussions. Students are encouraged to profit from this unique opportunity.

This event is limited to 30 participants, please RSVP.

International Symposium: Over Her Dead Body Redux, 20-21 October 2017


25 years after the publication of Elisabeth Bronfen’s influential book Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic, we want to revisit the theoretical creativity and potential of 1990s feminism and gender studies. A quarter of a century later, and in the face of 21st-century turmoil, backlashes and protests, how can we reevaluate our feminist positions, what aspects need to be upheld, what concepts need to be reassessed? For this timely conversation, we have invited an illustrious, international group of intellectuals: Judith Butler, Mandy Merck, Barbara Vinken, Elisabeth Bronfen and others will discuss questions concerning the relationship between feminism, aesthetics, representation, and language; the shifts and changes – for better or for worse – that have occurred between the 1990s and today; as well as potential visions for the future.

Workshop: Visual Essays, 3-4 November 2017


What do we mean when we speak of visual essays? How can we develop academic arguments by using multi-medial material? This autumn Professor Richard Dienst (Rutgers) will return to the English Seminar to explore a wide spectrum of possibilities. The aim of this workshop, which will also include hands-on exercises, is to discuss the visual essay as a form of creative research and examine its pedagogical potential. One of the claims is that the visual essay can be seen as a promising – and, in fact, necessary – new direction in English Literature as a discipline which teaches students how to read and how to see.

Workshop: American Domesticity, 24-25 November 2017


Prof. Heike Paul (FAU), Prof. Katja Kanzler (Dresden) and Dr. Katharina Gerund (FAU) will be present for a workshop focusing on domesticity in the American context. The workshop will explore different notions of the domestic in the American cultural framework. Doctoral students are encouraged to profit from this unique opportunity.

Workshop: Celebrity Culture, December 1-2 2017


Prof Mary Luckhurst (Melbourne) as well as Prof Patricia Duncker (Manchester) will be in Zurich for a workshop focusing on different notions of celebrity culture. This workshop includes further talks by Prof Elisabeth Bronfen and Dr Sandra Mayer.

PhD students are encouraged to make use of this opportunity.



An overview and description of past events can be found here.


Each student’s dissertation project will be supervised by a committee consisting of at least two professors or Privatdozenten, the main supervisor being a professor or Privatdozent or Privatdozentin in the English Department; one of the supervisors has to be a faculty member of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zurich. Normally the dissertation topic will correspond to one or more of the following sub-fields, which represent the primary areas of expertise of the English Literature faculty:

• Shakespeare and Early Modern to 1660

• Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Century

• Romanticism and Nineteenth Century

• Modernism and Postmodernism

• (Dis)continuities: Early Modern / Postmodern

• Visuality

• Print Culture and the Study of the Book

• American Studies

• World Literatures in English

Travel grants

Students of the doctoral program may apply for travel grants to assist with travel to relevant conferences or research collections. The next deadline for handing in an application is: 15 October 2017
The travel grant policy and application form can be downloaded here:

Travel Grant Policy and Application Form (DOCX, 47 KB)

Enrolment, guidelines and accreditation

A step-by-step overview of the enrolment procedure can be downloaded here:

Enrolment_PhD_2016.pdf (PDF, 93 KB)

You can find a pdf-document with guidelines and a form concerning accreditation of ECTS (i.e. credit points) as well as a general study guide (Wegleitung) in the downloads section at:

General guidelines and requirements for the doctoral studies in English can be found here.

The "Doktoratsordnungen der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich" (including the one for the doctoral program "English and American Literary Studies" can be found here.

All the forms such as the "Merkblatt zu den Doktoratsprogrammen", the "Formular Aufnahme ins Doktoratsprogramm" and  finally, the "Doktoratsvereinbarung" are to be found here.

Program Director

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen
Telephone: +41 44 634 36 85
Office: PET 206

Program Co-ordinator

Stella Castelli, MA
Telephone: +41 44 634 36 76
Office: PET 107

Doctoral Candidates

An overview of all doctoral candidates and their projects can be found in the research section.