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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
September 20, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Program Requirements



The program requirements of the PhD program in literary studies/theatre studies in English include the following:

Area Studies

The following Secondary Area Studies (SAS) and Primary Area Studies (PAS) descriptions map the trajectory students will follow in their first two years of study in the program, after completing coursework, as well as outline the responsibilities of the Seminar committees and the methods of Seminar evaluation.

Secondary Area Studies (Terms 2, 3, 4)

Introduction

The SAS explores a field of study other than the student's field of specialization for the PAS and dissertation. The SAS emphasizes thorough general knowledge of the area's scope, relevant theoretical frameworks, and research methodologies, with due regard to the student's own teaching, research interests, and critical perspectives. The reading and other activities related to the SAS proceed in close consultation with the SAS committee, which consists of the SAS advisor and one other core faculty member.

Procedure and Deadlines

The SAS committee meets with the student at least once before the January 15 deadline (below) to guide the student in drafting the SAS proposal and reading list. Thereafter, the student meets with the SAS advisor once a month until the SAS is completed. The student also meets with the SAS committee as a whole to discuss the progress of the SAS at least once a term in the subsequent semesters until the SAS is completed.

November 1: Deadline for formation of SAS committee. The Co-Director presents the SAS committee to the Joint PhD Committee for approval. The Joint PhD Committee notifies the student and SAS advisor about its approval of the SAS committee within two weeks of receiving the information.

January 15 (Year One): The student submits a two-page SAS proposal and accompanying reading list of 50-80 selections. The proposal should mark out a distinctive area of scholarship and identify specific primary texts in the area, along with related historical, cultural, critical, and theoretical texts. It states the rationale for the student's area of study, including its relevance to an undergraduate curriculum. The number of texts on the reading list will depend on various factors including genre, critical history, and theoretical complexity. The SAS committee plays an advisory role in guiding the student through the drafting of both the proposal and reading list.

The submitted reading list must be formatted following either MLA or Chicago bibliographical guidelines and consists of four elements:

  1. Research tools and research sources (such as the MLA Bibliography, Short Title Catalogue, Iter, and so forth).
  2. Primary texts (canonical and non-canonical texts of the period or area, archival materials, and so forth).
  3. Historical, cultural, critical, and theoretical contexts, including secondary sources and responses.
  4. Other texts on which the student wishes to focus within the area.

January 31: The Joint PhD Committee sends a letter to the student and SAS advisor granting or denying approval of the SAS proposal and reading list, and summarizing any concerns or amendments sought by the Joint PhD Committee. The student, in consultation with the SAS advisor, undertakes revisions sought by the Joint PhD Committee.

February 15: The student submits the final version of the proposal and reading list--signed by both the student and the SAS advisor--to the Joint PhD Committee. It is then placed in the student's file in the relevant graduate office.

March 1: The Co-Director, in consultation with the student and relevant faculty, names the Chair of the Student's Advisory Committee. The SAC Chair is the student's overall advisor, and will probably become the student's PAS and dissertation advisor. This person helps both the student and program Co-Director to establish the SAS committee. The SAC Chair will also guide the student in major grant applications.

July 15: Deadline for submission of course outlines. The student designs two 12-week courses, one a junior undergraduate course and one a senior undergraduate course. These courses should be based on the student's research interests and readings for the SAS and a specifically defined curricular area as approved by the SAS committee. The course outlines consist of two parts: a course syllabus and a rationale. The course syllabus must include the following: full course description, required texts, evaluation of assignments, weekly breakdown of lectures and discussions, and sample essay and exam questions for the assignments. The rationale for each syllabus must explain and justify the selection and organization of materials and theoretical approaches, as well as account for pedagogical strategies informing the course design. The SAS committee, guided by the SAS advisor, provides the student with detailed feedback on the outlines and rationales, outlining suggested revisions and concerns. Final copies of the outlines must be submitted to the SAS committee within two weeks of the student being given this feedback.

Beyond the July 15 deadline: The last Friday in October the student will present a conference-style research paper (approximately 20 minutes in length) at a public colloquium, as well as respond to questions and comments from the audience. The student will submit a draft of the paper to the SAS committee no later than four weeks before the date of the public colloquium. The student will submit a formal written version of this paper in MLA or Chicago style (approx. 12-15 pages, including Notes and, if in MLA, a Works Cited), taking into account commentary received during the colloquium.

The SAS committee writes a two-page evaluation of the student's overall performance, which is graded either PASS or FAIL (a pass is 75%). This evaluation is submitted to the Co-Director and Joint PhD Committee, with a copy sent to the student. The student cannot begin the Primary Area Studies until the SAS has been successfully completed.

The SAS committee decides the student's overall evaluation, based on the following:

20%     Development of the reading list and its rationale and the monthly meetings to discuss
            the reading list materials
30%     Two course outlines
20%     Public colloquium presentation
30%     Final paper based on colloquium presentation

Primary Area Studies (Terms 5, 6, 7)

Introduction

The PAS develops the student's primary area of specialization in preparation for the dissertation and normally overlaps with work on the dissertation. The PAS involves individualized[,] directed study of the literary, cultural, and theoretical contexts related to the dissertation topic and thus provides the students with the research and pedagogical contexts to undertake the dissertation. The various components of the PAS are intended to connect with each other, their purpose being to produce work that will be included in the dissertation (e.g. a chapter, part of the dissertation bibliography, and so forth). Normally, the oral examination and the public colloquium (described below) will address the dissertation topic toward which the student is working, as will the initial progress report and the written research paper (theoretical or critical).

The PAS advisory committee normally consists of three faculty members: the PAS advisor (also the dissertation advisor and/or SAC Chair) and two other core faculty members, one of whom must be from the institution other than the student's home institution. This committee also constitutes the student's dissertation committee.

Procedure and Deadlines

Note: The PAS committee meets with the student at least once before the March 15 deadline (below) to advise the student in drafting the PAS proposal. The student meets with the PAS advisor at least once a month for the duration of the PAS. The PAS committee as a whole meets with the student at least once a term until the completion of the PAS.

January 15: The Co-Director, in consultation with the student, names the PAS committee. The PAS committee plays an advisory role in guiding the student through the drafting of the summary statement (below) and all other facets of the PAS. The Co-Director presents the PAS committee to the Joint PhD Committee for approval. The Joint PhD Committee notifies the student and PAS advisor about its approval of the PAS committee within two weeks of receiving the information.

February 15: Because the PAS and dissertation are closely linked, the student first submits to the PAS committee a summary statement of the proposed dissertation topic (2 pages).

March 15: The student submits an PAS proposal that includes:

1) a two-page statement of purpose, including a justification of the topic in relation to current
    scholarship in the field;

2) a one-page statement of research methodologies to be deployed;

3) a reading list, consisting of 80 to 100 titles, as determined by the PAS committee in
    consultation with the student, and the same four elements as the SAS (see above)
    and must be submitted following either MLA or Chicago bibliographical guidelines; and

4) the PAS proposal form.

The PAS proposal marks out a distinctive area of scholarship and includes appropriate primary and secondary texts related to the area of specialization. This proposal includes a rationale for the student's chosen area of study and for the reading list.

The PAS advisor forwards the PAS proposal and summary statement to the Co-Director, who in turn forwards both to the Joint PhD Committee.

April 15: The Joint PhD Committee sends a letter to the student and PAS advisor granting or denying approval of both the summary statement of the dissertation and the PAS proposal and reading list, and summarizing any concerns or amendments sought by the Joint PhD Committee. The student, in consultation with the PAS advisor, undertakes revisions sought by the Joint PhD committee and forwards a final version of the summary statement and PAS proposal to the Co-Director two weeks after receiving the letter.

May 15: The student submits a two-page report to the PAS committee on research-in-progress. The report includes discussion of the reading list and the development of the conference-style research paper, which will develop into a longer written theoretical or critical paper. The student consults with the PAS committee to approve the topic of both papers.

Late October: On or about the last Friday in October, on a date to be specified by the Joint PhD Committee, the student will present the research paper (approximately 20 minutes in length) at a public colloquium, as well as respond to questions and comments from the audience. The grade for the public colloquium is assigned by the PAS advisor in consultation with the PAS committee. The student will submit a draft of the paper to the SAS committee no later than four weeks before the date of the public colloquium.

November 15: The student submits to the PAS committee the written theoretical or critical paper (25-30 pages including Notes and, if in MLA, a Works Cited) that stems from the public colloquium and that takes into consideration commentary received during the colloquium. This paper is intended for submission for publication.

December 15: The student is examined orally on the written theoretical or critical paper and on the materials covered in the PAS.  The committee for this oral examination is constituted by the members of the PAS committee and two additional core faculty members, one of whom must be from the institution other than the student's home institution. Ideally, the members of this examination committee will represent a range of institutional and disciplinary sites relevant to the area of the PAS.

The overall PAS evaluation is based on the following:
10%     Research progress report
20%     Public colloquium presentation
40%     Theoretical or critical paper
30%     Oral Qualifying Candidacy Examination

 
Oral Qualifying Candidacy Examination

This oral examination constitutes the student's Qualifying Candidacy Examination. The exam committee determines the grades for the written and oral work. The PAS advisor writes a two-page report based upon the findings of the full committee, who co-sign the report. The report is submitted to the Co-Director and the Joint PhD Committee, with a copy sent to the student. Upon satisfactory completion of the examination, the student is deemed to have met the Joint PhD Program standards and becomes an all but dissertation (ABD) candidate for the PhD degree.

 
PhD Dissertation

Following successful completion of the two Area Studies, the student must complete an original research project on an advanced topic. The advisory committee for the dissertation will consist of three members of the graduate faculty, one of whom will assume the primary advisory role. The dissertation should normally be between 50, 000 and 75, 000 words in length. The regulations and procedures at the university in which the student is registered will govern both the dissertation and the examination formats.

 
Language Requirement

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one language other than modern English. In certain cases, students' research may require demonstrable competency in more than one language other than modern English. The selection of the language(s) will be determined by the student in consultation with the dissertation advisor, and must be submitted for approval by the Joint PhD Program Committee. The language should normally have direct relevance to the student's program of study. The aim is to test the student's ability to read critically in another language rather than to demonstrate mastery of translation.

Assessment of the student's reading proficiency is based on a) a three-hour examination, which consists of the student's translation (with the help of a dictionary) of one passage in prose of not more than 1000 words; and b) a written analysis (in English) of approximately 500 words of the passage's critical implications. A faculty member grades the examination on a pass/fail basis with expertise in the language. Evidence that a student has already demonstrated similar language ability at another university before admission may be submitted to the Joint PhD Program Committee with a request to have the language requirement waived. Credit may be given, at the discretion of the Joint Program Committee, to any student who has fulfilled the equivalent language requirement through an MA-level examination. Credit will not normally be given for the completion of an undergraduate-level language course.

Typically the language requirement will be completed by the end of Year Two. A student who fails the language examination twice will normally be required to withdraw from the program.

 
Other Regulations

Other regulations include:

Program Standing

A minimum standing of B+ in all prescribed graduate courses and Seminars is required.  Students are normally expected to maintain an A- average in the program. A student who twice fails the Secondary Area Studies, the Primary Area Studies, or the language examination will normally be required to withdraw from the program. In May of the first year of registration and once a year thereafter, a student is required to complete an annual research Progress Report detailing the achievements of the previous year and the objectives for the next year. The report must demonstrate satisfactory progress, and must be signed with comments by the advisor and Director, and filed with both the Program Co-Directors and the Graduate Studies Office of the home university. Failure to submit a satisfactory report may result in the student being required to withdraw from the program.

Residency Regulation

At least five semesters of full-time study must be devoted to the doctoral program following the completion of a recognized Master's degree.