IX. Graduate Programs

Literary Studies/Theatre Studies in English

PhD Program

The PhD Program in Literary Studies/Theatre Studies in English is offered in six fields of specialization: 1) studies in Canadian literatures; 2) colonial, postcolonial and diasporic studies; 3) early modern studies; 4) studies in the history and politics of performance and theatre; 5) sexuality and gender studies; and 6) transnational nineteenth-century studies.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD Program normally requires an MA in English, and MA in Drama/Theatre, or an equivalent degree with at least an A- average in graduate work. In certain exceptional circumstances, students will be considered directly out of the undergraduate degree. Applications are considered by the Graduate Program Committee and a recommendation to admit or decline is forwarded to the Assistant VP of Graduate Studies.

Program Requirements

Graduate Course Work (2.5 credits)

Students are required to take 5 graduate courses in the initial phase of their degree. The standard practice is to take two courses in the Fall semester of Year 1, two courses in the Winter semester of Year 1, and one course in the Fall semester of Year 2. This arrangement of courses is recommended, but remains flexible: any combination of 5 courses over these semesters is acceptable. In unusual circumstances, students may petition to do one course in the Winter semester of Year 2 in order to meet particular demands in their program of study. Courses are advertised on a two-year cycle to maximize choice and facilitate planning in the program.

Graduate courses allow students to develop their knowledge of key theoretical, historical and critical concerns for the analysis of culture. It is during coursework that students hone their skills in writing and research so that they will be prepared for the challenges posed by their Primary and Secondary Area Qualifications. Students are encouraged to choose their courses in order to maximize their critical and historical repertoire, and to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the program to work across the disciplines of English and Theatre Studies.

Language Requirement--LTS*7770 (0.0 credit)

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one language other than modern English, as approved by the Graduate Study Committee. Typically the language requirement will be completed by the end of the student's fifth semester in the program.

The language should normally have direct relevance to the student's program of study. In certain cases, students' research may require demonstrable competency in a non-written or technical language such as a programming language. 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 Graduate Program Committee.

The language requirement may be fulfilled through one of the following:

  • 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.

  • A faculty member with expertise in the language grades the examination on a pass/fail basis. A student who fails the language examination twice will normally be required to withdraw from the program.

  • Equivalent language requirement through an MA-level examination.

  • An undergraduate-level language course or above whose completion demonstrates reading proficiency in the language (as determined by the student’s committee and approved by the Graduate Program Committee).

The student’s advisory committee may submit a rationale, no later than the end of the third semester of study, to the Graduate Program Committee explaining why a second language is not necessary to the course of study. In order to promote equity across the program, the Graduate Program Committee will be charged with approving or rejecting that rationale or requesting further clarification.

Secondary Area Qualification

The SAQ takes place in the Summer of Year One and provides an opportunity for students to quickly develop the repertoire needed to potentially teach in a field without necessarily committing to that field as an area of specialization. The objective here is to gain working knowledge of the major texts and statements relating to a field of scholarly enquiry. Upon completion of this exercise, students should have both the range and the depth to confidently teach in a secondary area.

As the name implies, this is a qualification exercise. The student is responsible for a reading list comprised of 60 texts, (the definition of what constitutes a standard text is internal to the design of the lists) selected from standard department reading lists; 30% of the list may be altered to suit particular interests. Students are assessed on a pass/fail basis on the following:

  1. The student will write a three-hour examination composed of four questions, from which the student chooses two. These questions give the student an opportunity to demonstrate the range and depth of their reading. The questions will ask the student to place a range of primary texts in relation to key critical debates in the field.

  2. This written examination is followed one week later by a one-hour oral examination on questions arising from both elements of the written work.

Primary Area Qualification (Year 2)

After the completion of the SAQ, the student progresses to his or her Primary Area Qualification. The objective here is to develop sufficient expertise in a field of scholarly enquiry to be able to make original contributions to that field through the writing of a doctoral dissertation. Through discussion with his or her advisory committee, the student develops a reading list of approximately 120 works divided roughly into two parts. The first comprises a Field Survey that is aimed at sketching the broad contours of an area of scholarly enquiry. The second is a more specific articulation of the works, called the Topic Readings, that will immediately impinge on the dissertation. The PAQ Examination, intended to determine whether the student is prepared to write and capable of writing the PhD thesis, is usually taken 12 months after the completion of the SAQ:

  1. A three-hour examination on the primary material to be studied in the thesis and on scholarship concerning that primary material-i.e. this is directed specifically to the Topic Readings. The student will be asked to answer two questions from a choice of three.

  2. A three-hour examination on the immediate background--the literary, cultural and intellectual milieu of the subject being studied-i.e. this is directed specifically at the Field Survey. The student will be asked to answer two questions from a choice of three.

  3. A two-hour oral examination in which the examining committee usually follows up on material in the written examinations and questions the student on plans for the doctoral thesis. While the examination is likely to focus on the student's main area of interest, examiners also have the lee-way to ask questions pertaining to the overall list of texts.

Students are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Dissertation Prospectus

Immediately following the Primary Area Qualification, the student develops, in consultation with his or her advisory committee, a full prospectus for their dissertation. The prospectus states the overall objective of the thesis, lays out the chapter structure, and summarizes the issues and concerns to be addressed in each chapter. If and when the Dissertation Committee ratifies the Prospectus, it is forwarded to the Graduate Program Committee for formal approval.

PhD Dissertation

Following successful completion of the two Area Qualifications, 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 assumes the primary advisory role. Ideally, the dissertation supervisor has worked with the student, in an advisory capacity, from her/his first semester in the program.

Each candidate shall submit a thesis, written by the candidate, on the research carried out by the candidate on an approved topic. The thesis is expected to be a significant contribution to knowledge in its field and the candidate must indicate in what ways it is a contribution. The thesis must demonstrate mature scholarship and critical judgement on the part of the candidate and it must indicate an ability to express oneself in a satisfactory literary style. Approval of the thesis is taken to imply that it is judged to be sufficiently meritorious to warrant publication in reputable scholarly media in the field.

The dissertation should normally be between 50,000 and 75,000 words in length. The regulations for submission, examination and publication are outlined in Chapter IV PhD Degree Regulations.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1