Students can apply for a summer stipend ($3000 in 2011-12) for research and language training in any two summers of their first five years in the program. Requests for this funding are due by the end of April and should include a description of the research and/or language training the student intends to undertake. Stipends are routinely granted, provided that that the applicant meets the following requirements:
At the start of their second year, Ph.D. students choose, after consultation with an adviser and with the approval of the faculty, either track I or track II. Track I "National Literatures" is a program of studies involving major focus upon one national literature (the major) with a secondary focus upon a second national literature, usually in a specified historical period or genre (the minor). Track II "Literature and other Disciplines" is a program of studies in the relationship of literature and some other discipline such as philosophy, sociology, art, or psychology.
Track I students are normally expected to take at least 3 graduate courses in their major national literature. Track II students are normally expected to take at least 3 graduate courses in the department of the discipline that they choose other than literature. Students must petition the Chair for any exceptions to these requirements. Students should consult with their advisors to ensure that they take courses appropriate for their chosen fields of specialization. Students may register in either department for courses that are cross-listed. Because students are likely to apply for jobs in national language departments as well as in Comparative Literature, it is valuable to show evidence on the grade transcript that course have been taken in those national literature departments.
No later than the third week of the fall quarter, each second-year student in the Ph.D. program will be asked to submit a carefully written declaration of approximately 2 pages specifying which track they want to pursue and how they plan to fulfill the requirements of that track. The track declaration should describe the student's general interests and program of study, provide examples of courses the student wishes to take, and note faculty with whom the student hopes to work. It is strongly recommended that students in their first year of study take the initiative to contact these faculty members and discuss with them the general line of research they wish to pursue. The track declaration must be approved by the faculty as a whole, who may give the student suggestions regarding the proposed course of study. In such cases, the track declaration should be revised and resubmitted for approval.
In the first three years of the program while students are involved in coursework, all students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) prior to each quarter to discuss and receive approval for course registration.
Students should also begin to approach specific faculty for ongoing advising in their respective fields of interest during their second year.
Once students have finished coursework and are registering for fewer than 300 units per quarter, they will be automatically enrolled in an Advanced Studies course for up to 300 units with the instructor listed as the DGS (see the Humanities Division’s policy on academic progress
). The pass/fail grades for this Advanced Studies course will be assigned by the DGS based on the annual review of student progress in the spring quarter.
Leaves of Absence
If students need to take a leave of absence during the program, including maternity leave, they should carefully review divisional policy
in addition to discussing options with the DGS, Chair, and Humanities Dean of Students.
Before the student is recommended for admission to candidacy for the doctor's degree he or she must pass satisfactorily an oral examination which will be based on one of the following two options:
Track I requires "The National Literature Oral." This is a two-hour examination based on no fewer than 60 titles in the major literature and no fewer than 30 titles in the minor literature. The list for the major literature will address all periods and genres. The list for minor literature will treat major texts of the approved period or genre. The exam will consist of (5-10 minutes) presentations on 3 topics related to the lists, each followed by questions from the examining faculty. In consultation with the examiners, the student may either prepare 2 topics related to the major literature list and 1 topic related to the minor literature list or prepare 3 topics that address the works on both lists.
Track II requires "The Field Oral." This is a two-hour oral examination on a representative list of approximately 70-90 titles in a given comparative field, such as literature and philosophy, literature and anthropology, literature and art, literature and film, literature and history, literature and linguistics, literature and music, literature and psychology, literature and sociology, literature and religion, literature and science. Texts chosen for this exam are to be distributed evenly between the two disciplines. The exam will consist of brief (5-10 minutes) presentations on 3 topics related to the lists, each followed by questions from the examining faculty.
The exam committee is assembled by the student and should typically be comprised of two or three faculty members, at least one of whom is in Comparative Literature. The exam committee does not have to be the same as the dissertation committee, but there will likely be some (or complete) overlap.
Students are responsible for assembling their own lists and working with their examiners to have their lists approved, which requires the completion of the oral exam book list approval form (download here
). While some secondary critical material should be included, the lists should contain predominantly primary material (ie, works of literature in the National Literature Oral). Examples of lists used by previous students are available in the department office. The objective of the oral examination is to build a strong knowledge of particular fields for later pedagogical purposes, while also laying the intellectual groundwork for a dissertation topic. Students should consult with their exam committee to make sure they are meeting list expectations. Once the oral exam list has been approved by the committee, a copy needs to be filed with the department.
Scheduling the oral exam is done via the departmental administrator, and should be arranged when filing the oral exam list with the department. Because finding a date and time for oral examinations can sometimes be complicated, students must contact the departmental administrator as early as possible, and absolutely no later than the end of the first week of the quarter in which the student plans to take the oral exam. Oral examinations are not administered during school breaks or over the summer.
Under normal circumstances, students should successfully complete their examinations by the end of their third year. If a student has not completed his oral examinations by the end of his or her fourth year, he or she will be put on academic probation. If he or she does not complete the oral examinations by the end of the Autumn quarter of the fifth year, he or she may be asked to leave the program.
Students who fail the oral examination may, at the discretion of the committee, be allowed to retake the examination once and only once; if a retake is granted, it must be completed within two quarters of the original exam date. Continuation in the Ph.D. program is dependent upon success in the oral exam.
For admission to candidacy the same language requirements hold for BOTH tracks. These are as follows: either high proficiency in one language (=normally one graduate literature course) + two University reading exams in two additional languages (with a high pass on both) OR two high proficiency (graduate literature courses) in two languages. In both tracks one of those languages must be either French or German. All graduate students who wish to fulfill the language requirement through graduate course work must submit a form (download here
) to be filled out by the instructor after the course work has been completed. The form will evaluate the student's general knowledge of the language with almost exclusive emphasis on reading.
Annual Academic Progress Report
Beginning in the third year and every year beyond while enrolled in the program, students will need to complete an annual academic progress report (dowload here
). The report requires signed approval from your dissertation committee chair and is due each spring at the end of the first week of May.
This report will be used by the faculty to determine and assess students’ academic progress during the annual spring review, as well as to assign passing grades for the “Advanced Studies” course that students are enrolled in when taking fewer than 300 units. In the progress report, the student should provide a brief account of post-coursework progress made. For post-orals students, this should include a summary of dissertation research and writing accomplished during the academic year, including a description of what committee members have seen and approved. If it seems appropriate, the Chair will contact committee members to obtain their assessments of the student’s progress. It is strongly recommended that students keep track of their academic progress and maintain contact with their dissertation committee throughout the year to facilitate writing this report.
After passing their oral exams, students will begin working on a dissertation proposal under the guidance of their dissertation committee, which should consist of at least two faculty members, of which at least one should be a Comparative Literature faculty member.
A dissertation proposal is necessarily provisional in its claims; it is fully expected that students will change aspects of their argument as they continue to do their dissertation research, thinking, and writing. Nevertheless, formulating a coherent and compelling dissertation proposal is a vital step toward successfully completing the dissertation in a timely fashion. A dissertation proposal should demonstrate that the student (a) has moved from consideration of a topic to the advancement of a significant and original set of questions about that topic; (b) has sufficient understanding of the relevant scholarship and of his or her chosen methodology, and (c) has formulated plausible organizing principles for the dissertation as a whole.
To these ends, a dissertation proposal of approximately 12-20 pages or 3000-5000 words (excluding bibliography) should include the following:
- a statement of the topic or problem the dissertation will address with a succinct discussion of the inadequacies and insufficiencies of previous approaches to this topic or problem. The discussion of previous approaches should not be an exhaustive history of previous scholarship, but rather a pointed discussion of the most important and relevant scholarship with which the dissertation will engage
- a preliminary version of the dissertation's overall argument, as you understand it
- at this point
- a discussion of the specific sorts of contributions to its field of specialization the
- dissertation seeks to make
- an explanation of the methodology to be used, with relevant examples
- an outline of the dissertation's chapter organization and contents
- a preliminary working bibliography
There are various ways of organizing a dissertation proposal effectively, but the outline of the dissertation's chapter organization and contents normally appears as the final section before the bibliography. These are very general guidelines, and students should consult their dissertation committee members regarding the committee members' specific expectations (e.g., regarding the optimum length of the proposal) as they work on their dissertation proposal.
Before entering candidacy students are required to present and discuss their dissertation proposals at a proposal hearing arranged by the student and attended by their dissertation committee and other interested faculty. Once the faculty approves the proposal following the hearing, the chair of the committee should submit the signed Dissertation Approval Form to the department, and the student must file a copy of the dissertation proposal with the department.
In order to complete a dissertation in a timely fashion, it is very important that students not lose momentum after their oral examinations and that they quickly make the transition to the dissertation. Students should do their best to have a dissertation proposal completed and approved by their dissertation committee by the end of the quarter following their oral fields examination. All students must submit an approved dissertation proposal to the department within three quarters of passing their oral fields examinations; failure to do so may be grounds for removal from the doctoral program.
Dissertation Expectations and Feedback
Dissertation committees are formed on the understanding that a Ph.D. candidate will finish the dissertation in a reasonable time. With the passage of time it becomes increasingly difficult for a student to finish a dissertation, and for faculty to supervise, a coherent dissertation; practical problems, such as the retirement of faculty dissertation committee members, also become increasingly likely.
After admission to candidacy, students are expected to produce per academic year at the minimum one chapter, and preferably two to three chapters, acceptable to their dissertation committee members. To do so requires handing in chapters at regular intervals with the expectation that the committee members will ask for revisions before deeming the chapter acceptable. Students who have been writing a lot but not showing their materials to their dissertation committee are doing themselves a grave disservice by depriving themselves of the timely feedback that they need to complete a strong dissertation. Students are strongly urged to join appropriate workshops and present dissertation chapters on a regular basis to such workshops.
Comp Lit faculty members have agreed that students should normally expect their readers, including those on leave, to return dissertation chapters with written comments within a month or so of receiving them, barring exceptional circumstances. Other departments have similar assumptions. Students should feel free to contact the Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies if there are any serious problems regarding feedback on their work. Remember that it remains up to the student, however, to demonstrate his or her commitment to the dissertation by providing chapters and revisions to the dissertation committee members on a timely basis. Because of the time needed for faculty to respond to work and for the student to make necessary revisions, the student must provide the dissertation committee with at least one chapter by no later than the end of March each academic year. It is not acceptable to wait until May when the Annual Academic Progress Report is due to get back in touch with, or turn in a chapter to, one’s dissertation committee! Failure to meet the end-of-March deadline may jeopardize continuation in the doctoral program.
The Department expects dissertations to be completed within five to six years after entry into the doctoral program. (For Divisional policy concerning time limits to degree, click here
After entering candidacy students will arrange for a colloquium with their dissertation committee. Normally, this should be scheduled in the fifth quarter after admission to candidacy, when it is assumed that every student will be at least halfway through his or her dissertation. (Summer quarters will count in determining the number of quarters after admission to candidacy, but if the fifth quarter falls in summer quarter, the conference will be delayed until the succeeding autumn quarter.) In this colloquium, students will discuss with their dissertation committee the current state of the dissertation and outline their plans and schedule for further progress. This meeting will also help ensure that dissertation committee members are aware of each other's views and expectations. Students will be notified when they have reached their fifth quarter after admission to candidacy and reminded that it is their responsibility to schedule a colloquium with their dissertation committee.
The candidate must conclude his or her studies by defending successfully this dissertation in an oral final examination. Please note that students must get the approval of their committee for a dissertation defense at least a month in advance so there is time to arrange for other faculty members and the dean's representative to attend.
Please visit the Dissertation Office website
for more specific information on the university-wide deadlines, formatting, and submission procedures.
Forms and Documents
Here are links to the forms mentioned above:
Students who would like to see examples of previous orals lists, dissertation proposals, or track statements, should contact the department administrator.