The M.A. in History and Literature is a one-year program, with courses from September to early July, and an M.A. essay completed during the summer following coursework.

A total of 30 credits are required to earn the degree:

  • 24 credits for coursework- 8 seminars / 3 credits each
  • 6 credits for the M.A. essay.

Tracking sheet for 2023-2024

The minimum requirement for good academic standing is to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.

Courses taken P/F or for R credit do not count toward the degree.


HILI GR 5000 Introduction to History and Literature  in the Fall. A historical and conceptual introduction to the relationship between history and literature.

HILI GR 5400 Research Seminar in the Spring. Initiation to archival, bibliographical, and philological work, with hands-on sessions in libraries and archives, and designing of a research project.

The seminars at Reid Hall are taught by Columbia Faculty  or invited instructors. Each is worth 3 credits. 

Here is a list of courses taught in the past:

Fall 2011: The Realistic Novel in Context, Prof. Elisabeth Ladenson

Fall 2012: Narratives of World War II, Prof. Carol Gluck

Fall 2013: The Archival Imagination, Prof. Brent Edwards

Fall 2014: The Voice of the Witness, Prof. Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer

Fall 2015: Narratives of World War II, Prof. Carol Gluck

Fall 2016: Writing from France: Black Expatriates in Paris, Prof. Marcellous Blount and Jean-Philippe Dedieu

Fall 2017: Minorities in France: Exiled histories, Contested Memories, Collective Protests, Prof. Jean-Philippe Dedieu

Fall 2018: Narratives of WWII, Prof. Carol Gluck


Spring 2012: Rousseau’s Confessions, Prof. Robert Morrissey

Spring 2013: Le Point de vue de l'indigène (1930-1970), Prof. Vincent Debaene

Spring 2014: Legacies of the First World War: history, memory and literature, Prof. Sylvie Aprile

Spring 2015: La France des Intellectuels, Prof. Philippe Roger

Spring 2016: Plagiarism and Postcolonialism, Prof. Joseph Slaughter

Spring 2017: From Enlightenment to Romanticism in French Thought, Prof. Michael Stanislawski

Spring 2018: "Epic Histories," Prof. Jenny Davidson

Spring 2019: French America (1534-1804), Prof. Pierre Force.


May-July 2012: History and Literature of Slavery, Prof. Eric Foner

May-July 2013: Defoe’s London, Prof. Carl Wennerlind.

May-July 2014: The Nation-Between History and Literature, Prof. Emmanuelle Saada

May-July 2015: History and Literature of Slavery, Prof. Eric Foner

May-July 2016: Africa & France, Prof. Gregory Mann

May-July 2017: Aesthetics and the Philosophy of History, Prof. Dorothea von Mücke

May-July 2018: Global Histories of the Book, Prof. Joseph Howley

May-July 2019: History of the Self: Montaigne, Prof. Mark Lilla. 

Students select courses at the ENS or at the EHESS, often in relation with the topics of their MA Essay. Each seminar is 3 credits. 

Here is a short list of EHESS courses taken by HILI students in the past:

Les usages sociaux de la littérature XIXe-XXe siècles; Prof. Judith Lyon-Caen 
Historiographie des Lumières ; Prof. Antoine Lilti  
L’homme du vertige, de Kafka à Michaud ; Prof. Marielle Macé
République, morale et socialisme; Prof. Vincent Duclert 
Supports et circulations des arts et des savoirs en Afrique et au-delà ; Prof. Jean-Paul Colleyn 
Musique et Politique ; Prof. Estaban Buch
Histoire du corps ; Prof. Georges Vigarello

Here is a short list of ENS courses taken by HILI students in the past:

Théories post-coloniales ; Prof. Dominique Combe
Trauma and Literature ; Prof. Susannah Mary Ellis
Writing and the Female Experience; Prof. Victoria Weavil
Literature and Economy; Prof. Agnès Derail
Histoire trans-impériale; Prof. Rahul Markovitz
Penser la Méditerranée moderne et contemporaine; Wolfgang Kaiser
Transferts culturels; Michel Espagne
Filmer la fin de l’Histoire ; Prof . Antoine De Baecque
Esthétique du film: "Working Class Heroes"; Prof. Françoise Zamour
Art et civilisation du pétrole; Prof. Béatrice Joyeux Prunel

The Master’s essay, written in English, consists of a minimum of 50 pages, a bibliography and notes. It will be written under the direction of a French expert in the relevant area of research. Oral presentations of the "work-in-progress" essays take place Mid June.

See /content/ma-essay for details on M.A. Essay Requirements

The course, taught in the Fall, focuses on oral and written skills. The objective is to prepare students to adapt to their seminars at the ENS and the EHESS. This course does not count towards the MA.


Kathy Eden discusses Curriculum