This course seeks to prepare students for successful doctoral study in literary studies. Rather than aiming to provide a comprehensive survey of the multifaceted discipline via coverage of literary periods or literary theory, this course invites us to grapple with the core questions and prominent debates surrounding its methods and objectives. Foregrounding the dis-orienting effects of the literary, the course begins by examining the history of the discipline and its institutions, including shifting definitions of our objects of study; the histories of exclusion and inclusion that accompany these shifts; and, issues of canonicity, especially as they relate to empire building both within and outside the academy. Then, we will explore the methods of literary critique, thinking about what is at stake in the objects we study and the ways we choose to read them. Finally, we will engage with challenges to the traditional organizing principles of our field, including its geographies, periodization, and archives. In elucidating the multiple contexts and histories that condition our position within the university in the present moment, this course aspires to nuance the values and effects of pursuing an English Ph.D. for doing work both in and beyond academia.