Literature: Preliminary (Comprehensive) Exam
This examination tests the student's mastery of the major and the two supporting fields. It must be taken after course requirements IV. (1) - (5) have been met. The Preliminary Examination is given in January and August each year.
The written portion of the exam is structured as follows:
The examination covering the major is six hours in length. Half of the examination consists of questions given to the student one week prior to the actual writing of the examination. In each half the student is required to answer two out of four questions. The first portion is divided into parts A and B. Part A features two texts for exegesis; the student is to select one. Part B contains two fairly precise questions relating to bibliographical matters, the criticism of particular works, the organization of a field of study, the validity of certain terms, etc. The student is to select one question.
The second portion of the examination is not divided into two parts. All four questions deal, as may be deemed appropriate for the candidate, with key critical issues and interpretations, the comparison of works (genres, periods, etc.), applied literary theory, and so forth. (These questions are given to the student one week prior to the examination date.) The student selects two questions.
Note: Because major fields are broad, examiners must keep a candidate's preparation in mind when composing a major examination.
Each of the two supporting fields receives an examination not to exceed three hours (to be written under supervision). The student is to select two out of four questions.
An oral examination follows all written portions of the Preliminary Examination. The oral exam is, approximately, two hours long, at the discretion of the examining committee.
The oral exam allows examiners to expand on areas of doubt from the written exams and to probe areas not included in the written exams.
The examining committee is composed of four members, two of whom represent the major field; the other two represent the supporting fields.
Note: The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination is scheduled twice each year, in August and January. The Major exam is given first, usually on a Monday; a week prior to the Major exam the candidate is given the take-home questions. The first supporting exam is to be administered on the following Monday, with the second supporting exam on the following Wednesday. Changes in the actual days of the administration of the Preliminary Examination should allow for the same amount of time between each segment of the exam.
The oral exam may include a presentation and discussion of the candidate's dissertation topic with the examination committee, as per the advisor's and/or director's specifications. The official defense of the dissertation proposal will take place at a later date with the candidate's dissertation committee, according to the guidelines described below in VII. (2).
The candidate will receive a grade of pass or fail in each area. Failure in the major area will automatically mean failure for the entire examination. A deficiency in one supporting field may be removed by passing a written examination in that field at the time of a subsequently scheduled Preliminary Examination. Failing both supporting fields means that the entire examination must be repeated.