To prepare for the written examinations, students should enroll with a member of their committee (preferably their committee chair) for a LT/XX 298 during their sixth or seventh quarter. During this quarter, students will also determine a topic for the research paper and prepare a one-page abstract of that paper. Near the end of the sixth quarter or at the beginning of the seventh quarter, the student and committee will hold a pre-qualifying meeting, scheduled and conducted by the committee chair, to discuss and approve the lists and the topic of the research paper.
During the LTXX 298 course, students will compile individual reading lists of at least 50 works each in two areas of study. This will be done under the direction of their committee chair and in consultation with other committee members. In general, each list and the paper will be supervised by a specific member of the committee. There is no standard list of required works for individual sections or the department as a whole, although faculty members may insist on including certain texts at their discretion.
The two reading lists should cover two suitably diverse topics in terms of genre, author, historical period, a problem of theory or method, and/or national traditions. One of these lists must be framed within a historical period resembling those used to define jobs and divisions in the MLA. The two topics should not overlap in terms of the historical period covered, and students are strongly encouraged to cover as broad a range as possible.
The lists may focus on literature, film, theory, or other forms of cultural production, but in each case they must contain an appropriate mixture of primary and secondary materials, i.e., major critical and theoretical reflections on the works as well as the works themselves.
Students will preface each list with a brief (one- to two-page) statement that explains the logic behind the list and that answers questions such as these: Why did the student choose this particular topic? What broad questions guide research in this area? How do the texts on the reading list fit into contemporary scholarly/theoretical debates?
Copies of reading lists and rationales will be kept on file in the Graduate Office for students to consult as models in preparing their own lists.
During the seventh or eighth quarters, students will register for one LTXX 298 with a member of their committee in which to work on the qualifying paper. In rare cases, the professor and student may jointly petition to pursue an additional LTXX 298 in which to work on the paper. This additional independent study may not be used to pursue topics unrelated to the qualifying paper.
The research paper should represent work in a third distinct area of study, with a minimum of overlap regarding materials prepared for the reading list exams. It should demonstrate the student's awareness of relevant research on the topic and make a clearly stated contribution to the field. Ideally, it should lead into dissertation research. It may be the source of a future publication, although this need not be the case.
The research paper is complete when it has been read and approved by two members of the student's committee. The approved research paper should be submitted to the members of the committee by the end of the first week of the ninth or tenth quarter. Copies of research papers will be kept on file in the Graduate Office for other students to consult as models in planning and writing their own papers.