Program in Comparative Literature

Beyond Fourth Semester

Overview

Students beyond their first four semesters in the Program should be close to completing their Ph.D. coursework and language requirements, and they should have a solid idea of their area of study for their upcoming exam, prospectus, and dissertation.

Beyond their first four semesters, students in the Program will work toward their Comprehensive Oral Examination and their Prospectus Presentation. After the successful completion of both milestones, as well as satisfaction of all Ph.D. coursework and language requirements, students will advance into candidacy.


Coursework

Students beyond their first four semesters in the Program should be close to completing their Ph.D. coursework and language requirements. By this time, students should have fulfilled their first world language requirements and be working toward completion of their second and third world language requirments.

Students have until the end of their fifth semester to fulfill their second world language requirement, by demonstrating command of a second world language through:

  • Passing a graduate literature course in that language with a grade of "B" or better - Graduate Adviser approval required
  • Earning a grade of "B" or better in an upper-division undergraduate course in the literature of that language and taught in that language
  • Passing a language translation examination of a 400-500 word passage in the world language -Graduate Adviser approval required

Students have until the end of their fourth (students entering with an M.A.) or sixth (students entering with a B.A.) semester to fulfill their third world language requirement. Students must demonstrate command of a third world language requirement before taking their Comprehensive Oral Exam, and they may do so by:

  • Earning a grade of "B" or better in an upper-division undergraduate course in the literature of that language and taught in that language
  • Passing a language translation examination of a 400-500 word passage in the world language - Graduate Adviser approval required

Aside from completing their language requirements, and leading up to their Comprehensive Oral Examination, students often enroll in Comparative Literature Graduate Conference Courses (CL 391L) with their committees in preparation for their exam. The student must complete a CL 391L petition form and select a committee member from the Comparative Literature GSC to serve as instructor for the course; the student must submit the form to the Graduate Coordinator no later than the 12th day of classes, and the student and committee member may use the conference course to appropriately prepare for the examination (e.g., compile reading lists).

After completing their Comprehensive Oral Examination, students also typically enroll in CL 391L conference courses as they prepare for their Prospectus Presentation.


Comprehensive Oral Examination

The Comprehensive Oral Examination, or CE, is taken after all Ph.D coursework is completed, or in the same semester the coursework is completed. Students entering with an M.A. should plan to take the CE at the end of their second year in the Program, while students entering with a B.A. should plan to take the CE at the end of their third year.

The goal of the CE is to ascertain if the student possesses the breadth of knowledge (outside the dissertation specialization) appropriate for future activities as a teacher and scholar; thus, the CE Committee will assess the student as a potential junior colleague. It will look for evidence of the student's ability to discuss fundamental issues in literary and critical traditions, because such ability will qualify the student to enter the critical debates of chosen specialties.

In preparation for the CE, students complete the following actions. Please carefully note the folowing CE checklist:

  • Form a committee comprising of 4 faculty members
    • Select a supervisor for the committee who works closely to your area of interest
    • Please note that the supervisor and two committee members must belong to the Comparative Literature Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), while the final committee member must be outside the CL GSC.
  • Develop a reading list comprising of 3-4 areas in consultation with your CE committee
  • Select a date and time for the exam, allowing for 2 hours for completion of the exam and ensuring that all committee members can be present for the exam, either in person or via video.
  • Download the CE Committee Exam Form, obtain the signatures of your supervisor and committee members, attach your reading lists, and submit the completed form and lists to the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks before the proposed date of the exam. The Graduate Adviser must review the form and lists and approve them before the exam in scheduled. Once the form and reading lists are approved, the Graduate Coordinator will reserve a room for the exam.
  • Send an email to your committee members confirming the date and time of the exam and supplying the committee with a copy of the reading list
  • Print the Comprehensive Examination Results Form and 4 copies of the Comprehensive Exam Evaluation Form (one for each committee member), bring these forms to your examination. The Results Form must be completed by your supervisor, and the Evaluation Forms completed by each committee member, and all forms must immediately be returned to the CL office, CAL 217, by the supervisor following the exam.

It is the student's responsibility to schedule the exam in a timely fashion, ensure that the minimum number of committee members will be present, and complete all required forms.

For more information, please view the following Comprehensive Exam Guide and Checklist, or schedule an appointment to meet with the Graduate Adviser.


Prospectus Presentation

Within one long semester of the date of the Comprehensive Oral Exam, the student, working closely with their committee, will complete a Dissertation Prospectus of 10-20 pages in length. The Prospectus should represent a detailed working outline for the dissertation, and it should consist of a detailed introduction indicating the student's methodology or approach, an explanation of why this project is significant, and a description of the materials and problems to be discussed and the kind of conclusions expected, as well as short descriptions of each chapter.

The Prospectus is intended to represent the student's ability to undertake work on a topic in depth, within the context of existing scholarship and critical methodologies. At the same time, the Prospectus demonstrates the student's ability to apply a breadth of knowledge to a project leading to future scholarly and teaching specializations.

Usually one hour in length, the presentation begins with the student introducing and outlining the dissertation orally (15-20 minutes), and is followed with a question-and-answer session.The presentation will be considered successful if the student can offer a coherent project focus and strategy for writing, and can answer possible fundamental questions or objections to that strategy or focus. It is a work-in-progress seminar, intended to be diagnostic and constructive. In order for the student to proceed to candidacy, the committee will need to approve the prospectus and recommend to the Graduate Advisor that the student be advanced. The supervisor and at least two other committee members must be from your department and must be Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) members. At least one committee member must be from outside your GSC. It is expected that all members of the committee attend the defense, either in person or via teleconference.

For more information on the Prospectus, please view the following Prospectus Guide.