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English: Literature - Doctor of Philosophy
Our graduate program offers you the opportunity to explore the formal, historical, cultural, and theoretical dimensions of diverse forms of the written word. As a student in our program, you will develop a deeper understanding of canonical and innovative approaches to literature in English, including both such nationally-defined traditions as British and American literatures, and traditions organized around other principles, such as Postcolonial or African American literatures. Organized to reflect the changing profession of literary study--its history, its methodologies, and its production of new knowledge--the program includes the study of literature in cultural and historical contexts, the study of representations of identity, comparative approaches to literature, theoretical perspectives, gender studies, and cultural studies. The program offers you both broad-based and specialized courses on a variety of literary topics, and students may supplement their course of literary study with graduate offerings in related subjects and departments, including courses in composition, creative writing, languages and linguistics, history, and sociology, among others.
Ph.D. candidates in Literature will complete eight four-credit courses beyond the M.A. degree plus English 924. Four of these courses must be graduate seminars in the department. The other courses should be at the 800 or 900 level and must include: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing (English 910), a seminar in literary theory (English 926 or 927), and an non-graded course in Bibliography and Professional Practice (English 924). The Bibliography and Professional Practices course can be taken at any time before the student advances to Candidacy, but might most usefully be taken during the third or fourth year of study. With permission of an advisor, students may take an appropriate graduate course in another department. In addition to course work, students will be required to complete a Teaching Mentorship.
The purpose of the language requirement is to give students a tool (or tools) which will enable them to master the literature in the specific field that they choose to study, and to add depth to their study of a period of literature, a national literature, an area of critical theory, or the like. All doctoral students will meet with their advisor during the first year of study to determine what the best way of fulfilling the language requirement would be for that student. It is possible that in certain fields the student may be advised to take up the study of a language or languages that she/he has not previously studied, to demonstrate basic proficiency in two rather than advanced proficiency of one language, or possibly to demonstrate proficiency of more than two languages.
To this end, all doctoral students are expected to complete either Option 1 or Option 2 of the language requirement:
A student may demonstrate basic proficiency in two foreign languages, as evidenced by passing grades on translation exams to be administered by the department. Students will be allowed to waive one or both translation exams by demonstrating a grade of B or better in a fourth semester (or higher) undergraduate course in the language.
A student may demonstrate advanced proficiency of one foreign language. Advanced proficiency must be demonstrated in one of the following ways:
- The requirement will be waived for students who are native speakers of another language.
- The student may take a relevant 700 level literature class (the literature must be read in the relevant language), and pass with a grade of B or better.
- The student may show coursework in an undergraduate or M.A. program equivalent to a 700 level literature class (with literature read in the relevant language) with a grade of B or better.
- The new advanced exam requires translation of a longer passage in two hours. We expect a demonstration of nearly complete comprehension of the passage.
- The student may propose a special project, for example, a program of readings in the language, supervised by an appropriate member of the faculty. This project might result in a paper of no less than 20 pages using substantial original translations of the readings and demonstrating the student's close reading skills in the language. The student must submit a short written proposal to the Graduate Committee for approval of this option. (The student may not combine this option with any independent study taken for credit toward the advanced degree). The Graduate Committee will also recommend to the chair what compensation on the point system would be appropriate for the faculty sponsor.
Although the major work on the dissertation is concentrated in the last year or year and a half of the program, a good dissertation develops and gets refined over a longer period of time. The candidate should have a subject in mind as he or she selects fields for the Qualifying Examination. Then the fields can be chosen appropriately and the subject can grow as the student prepares for that exam.
Once the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, a doctoral committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School after nomination by the Department. This committee is normally composed of three professors from the English Department and two more from related departments. The student then prepares a written proposal outlining the dissertation topic, a minimum of ten pages long, the materials to be used, and pertinent scholarship related to the topic. The student has six months from the date of passing the Qualifying Examination to present this proposal.
After submitting copies of this proposal to the doctoral committee, the student meets with its members to defend the proposal and to demonstrate his or her preparation to work on the project. The meeting should last one and one-half hours. The committee may opt to 1) approve the proposal, 2) require that the proposal be revised, 3) require that the student undertake further preparation before proceeding (the conditions are set by the committee and monitored by its chair). If the proposal needs to be re-presented, the student may take no more than an additional six months to do so.
Doctoral candidates registering for English 999 are normally expected to attend a noncredit non-graded dissertation workshop directed by a member of the English Department's graduate faculty. This workshop will meet approximately once a month. (If travel presents a hardship, this requirement may be waived through a petition to the Graduate Director).
In preparing the dissertation, the candidate should refer to the Graduate Catalogue for technical requirements. For dissertation format, the student must consult the graduate school pamphlet, Manual for the Preparation of Theses. After the dissertation is completed, the candidate will defend it orally at a formal examination with the doctoral committee.