Meet Ph.D. in Literature Student James Martell

Author: Todd Boruff

“I started questioning the idea of ‘What do art and literature give to philosophy?’ at the same time as ‘What does philosophy give to the arts?’” says James Martell de la Torre, a sixth-year student in Notre Dame’s Ph.D. in Literature program.

He chose to explore those ideas within the Ph.D. in Literature program because of its broad scope. “I was really thrilled by the interdisciplinary approach,” Martell de la Torre says, “and also by all the opportunities with different institutes to travel and to learn languages and to just keep enriching my whole experience.”

His dissertation focuses on writer Samuel Beckett and philosopher Jacques Derrida and how they approach literature and philosophy in the context of the second half of the 20th century. In 2009, Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies awarded Martell de La Torre a grant to travel to France to conduct research on this subject.

In addition to the program’s interdisciplinary approach, Martell de la Torre appreciates being able to design his own course. He says, “Not only was that great for my own research … but also, I was able to have one of the most direct teaching experiences of my own interests. I think that’s one of the biggest strengths of the Ph.D. in Literature.”

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