Before being admitted to formal candidacy, the student must prepare a proposal for approval by the Graduate Committee in consultation with a director and a second reader (both of whom must be tenure-track faculty members). The proposal should be a thorough document, including a statement of the subject, its exigency and audience, a survey of the significant primary and secondary materials, and an outline of the sections or chapters (in the case of a monograph). The proposal should be approximately 10-12 (double-spaced) pages in length. No student should work extensively on the doctoral project until the proposal has been approved by the Graduate Committee.
Once the director and the second reader have approved the student's proposal, they should signify their approval by signing and dating the final draft. The student will submit the signed draft to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will furnish copies to the other members of the Graduate Committee for their review. The final deadline for submission of a proposal to the Graduate Committee is September 1.
In the event the proposal does not receive Graduate Committee approval, the Director of Graduate Studies will write a memorandum to the director, with copies to the student and the second reader, explaining the reason for the negative decision. The Committee may also request modification of the proposal, in which case the Director of Graduate Studies will notify the director, the student, and the second reader in the same manner, explaining the specific nature of the modifications needed. If the student elects to change the topic or if the topic does not receive approval by the Graduate Committee, the student may submit either a new or a revised proposal following these same procedures.
The doctoral project could take any number of forms including a traditional dissertation (monograph), a digital or public humanities project, a new edition of a text, a series of thematically related essays, or an interdisciplinary project. Regardless of the form that it takes, the project should draw on the student's training and coursework to incorporate the skills of textual interpretation and/or formal analysis to explore a specific cultural, political, or social question. The final project should include an introductory essay, in which the student demonstrates its logic, need, and contribution to literary and cultural studies. We invite students to develop new kinds of projects that will serve them in a variety of possible careers upon completion of the Ph.D. (see Appendix G of the Graduate Handbook).
Upon completion, and in accordance with the university requirements, students will defend the doctoral project. The defense will be a 90-120 minute discussion with the student's committee members of the major methodological, conceptual, literary historical, and formal questions addressed by the project. The defense will be open to the public.