Office: Building 460, Room 216
Mail Code: 94305-2022
Phone: (650) 723-3413
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Program in Modern Thought and Literature are listed under the subject code MTL on the Stanford ExploreCourses web site.

The program in Modern Thought and Literature admits students for the Ph.D. and a limited number for a coterminal B.A./M.A. Program.

Graduate Programs in Modern Thought and Literature

Modern Thought and Literature (MTL) is an interdisciplinary humanities graduate program advancing the study of critical issues in the modern world. Since 1971, MTL students have helped to redefine the cutting edge of many interdisciplinary fields and to reshape the ways in which disciplinary scholarship is understood and practiced. MTL graduates are leaders in fields such as American studies, ethnic studies, film studies, social and cultural studies, and women's studies, as well as English and comparative literature.

The program trains students to understand the histories and methods of disciplines and to test their assumptions. It considers how disciplines shape knowledge and, most importantly, how interdisciplinary methods reshape objects of study. MTL students produce innovative analyses of diverse texts, forms, and practices, including those of literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, law, and science; film, visual arts, popular culture, and performance; and material culture and technology.

Each student constructs a unique program of study suited to his or her research. Students have focused on such areas as gender and sexuality; race and ethnicity; science, technology, and medicine; media and performance; legal studies; and critical and social theory. The program's affiliated faculty is drawn from fields throughout the humanities and humanistic social sciences, as well as from education and law. As interdisciplinary study is impossible without an understanding of the disciplines under consideration, each student is expected to master the methods of literary analysis and to gain a foundation in a second field or discipline.


Director: Héctor Hoyos

Director of Graduate Studies: Tom Mullaney

Committee in Charge: Michaela Bronstein, Angèle Christin, Shane Denson, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Héctor Hoyos (Chair), Roanne Kantor, Elizabeth Kessler, Charles Kronengold, Marci Kwon, Bernadette Meyler, Ana Minian, Tom Mullaney, Vaughn Rasberry, José David Saldívar, Matthew Smith, Dafna Zur

Affiliated Faculty:   Lanier Anderson (Philosophy), Russell Berman (German Studies), Jennifer Brody (Theater & Performance Studies), Michaela Bronstein (English), Scott Bukatman (Art & Art History), Gordon Chang (History), Adrian Daub (German Studies), Jean-Pierre Dupuy (French & Italian), Paulla Ebron (Anthropology), Harry Elam (Theater & Performance Studies), Michele Elam (English), Amir Eshel (German Studies, Comparative Literature), Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English), Zephyr Frank (History), Estelle Freedman (History), Duana Fullwiley (Anthropology), Thomas Hansen (Anthropology), David Hills (Philosophy), Héctor Hoyos (Iberian & Latin American Cultures) Lochlain Jain (Anthropology), Tomas Jimenez (Sociology), Roanne Kantor (English), Elizabeth Kessler (American Studies), Matthew Kohrman (Anthropology), Charles Kronengold (Music), Marci Kwon (Art & Art History), Joshua Landy (French & Italian, Comparative Literature), Pavle Levi (Art & Art History), Helen Longino (Philosophy), Douglas McAdam (Sociology), Mark McGurl (English), Alison McQueen (Political Science), Jisha Menon (Theater & Performance Studies), Lynn Meskell (Anthropology), Ana Minian (History), Paula Moya (English), Tom Mullaney (History), Alex Nemerov (Art & Art History), David Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Peggy Phelan (Theater & Performance Studies), Robert Proctor (History), Vaughn Rasberry (English), Robert Reich (Political Science), Jessica Riskin (History),  José David Saldívar (Comparative Literature), Ramón Saldívar (English, Comparative Literature), Londa Schiebinger (History), Matthew Smith (German Studies, Theater and Performance Studies), Sharika Thiranagama (Anthropology), Fred Turner (Communication), Ban Wang (East Asian Languages and Cultures),  Gail Wight (Art & Art History),  Alex Woloch (English)

Graduate Advising Expectations

The Program in Modern Thought and Literature is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee.

Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways. 

Upon arrival, incoming MTL Ph.D. students are assigned first-year faculty advisers who help students select classes with the student’s academic interests as well as the program requirements in mind. Advising arrangements are made for coterminal M.A. students at the time of their admission to the program.

Prior to advancement to TGR status, all Ph.D. students should also meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) each quarter to discuss overall progress. After reaching TGR status, students should check in with the DGS at least once a year.

As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. For both Ph..D and M.A. students, at least two consultations per quarter with the DGS and the primary adviser are highly recommended to foster an effective advising relationship. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.

After the first year of study, when Ph.D. students have a better sense of their academic trajectories, they may choose to change advisers with the approval of the director and the DGS.

For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the "Graduate Advising" section of this bulletin.