The examining panel will consist of the student’s prospective dissertation advisor and two other members of faculty, including at least one with pre-1700 research interests and one with post-1700. The exam will last for around an hour, and will cover material from all lists. Where Lists A, B, and C are concerned, aside from familiarity with the texts, what the examiners will be looking for is an ability to ‘think across’ the lists and to make intelligent and informed connections between primary works of different periods, and between the primary works in Lists A and B and the theoretical works in List C. Where List D is concerned, the examiners will be looking for a firm grasp of the principal issues and critical and methodological trends within the student’s chosen field. In the case of students with a clearly worked out dissertation topic, examiners may wish to know how the student would position his/her own work with respect to existing secondary literature, but detailed questioning on the project will be left to the prospectus defense. While the exam will tend naturally to divide into two parts, one centered on Lists A, B, and C, and the other on List D, this division is not absolute: examiners may ask students to make connections between works included in the first three lists and works on List D.
Changes to the PhD exam for students entering the PhD program in Fall 2014 or after
The exam will now consist of three parts: (a) the presentation and discussion by the candidate of an initial one-page written outline of the proposed dissertation topic (approximately 15 minutes); (b) an oral examination on the four lists (approx. 1 hour) and (c) a discussion of the sample syllabus (approx. 15 minutes). The written outline and sample syllabus must be submitted to the exam committee no later than one week before the date scheduled for the exam. For further information about the new components of the exam, students should consult the Director of Graduate Studies.