Plan A: Literature

This PhD program in Slavic languages and literatures concentrates on the study of literature. The candidate will choose one major Slavic language and literature and, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, a minor field of the student’s choice, which might be a second Slavic language and literature, non-Slavic language and literature, comparative literature, performing arts or fine arts, cultural studies, film studies, a well-defined theoretical or interdisciplinary field, Russian and East European history, or Slavic linguistics and language pedagogy (six courses in the major field and four in the minor field). 

General Program Requirements:

  • Slavic 299: Proseminar
  • Ling 250: Old Church Slavonic

Foreign Languages:

  • French and German (French A or Ax or German A or S with a minimum grade of A, or Slavic Department reading exam)
  • French or German, plus a Slavic language in addition to the major language
  • French or German, plus another language of demonstrable importance to the student’s research interests in addition to the major language

Graduate students will choose the option that makes the most intellectual sense for them, in consultation with the Department's Director of Graduate Studies.

Major Literature (6 courses*):

  1. pre-1700
  2. 19th c.
  3. 19th c.
  4. 20th c.
  5. 20th c.
  6. elective

* 2 Seminar/Conference, 1 Poetry, 1 Prose

Minor Field (4 courses*):

  1. elective
  2. elective
  3. elective
  4. elective

*one of which must be taught by a Slavic Department faculty member

Period Course Requirements:

We will continue to require a course in old literature up to the 17th century, OCS, proseminar, a dedicated poetry course, plus two 19th-century and two 20th-century courses.

For a course to count for the 19th-century or 20th-century requirement said course must be AT LEAST 50% devoted to the period in question AND the student must do all of their written projects and presentations on topics from that period.  Courses from the History department cannot be counted toward this requirement (although they can count toward elective courses for the minor field or the degree in general).  Appropriate Gen Ed courses that are taught with a special section for grad students are eligible.

In addition, 100-level courses in literature may be counted for graduate credit with permission of the chair and the professor involved, and on condition that a graduate-level paper be submitted as part of the course work. 

General Examination:

Part 1. A minor field portfolio and collective presentation, normally completed in the third year. For more detailed information about portfolio, please see the "Minor Portfolio" section.

Part 2a. A four-hour written examination that will consist of eight textual or visual excerpts from a range of periods and genres. The author, title, and year the work was written will be identified. The student will write on six of these excerpts, contextualizing each within literary history and the author’s creative biography, and also analyzing the work’s formal features. Preparation for this part of the written exam will be informed by the master reading list (including film, contemporary literature, etc.), that can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Part 2b. A single take-home essay in which the student will be given 48 hours to complete the essay and an expected word count for the result. Normally the written exam and essay  are completed at the start of a student's fourth year of study, and normally part 2b is completed no more than a week after part 2a.

Part 3. Students will prepare a completed draft of the dissertation prospectus as the first step in Part 3 of the general examinations. In preparing the draft, students are invited to consult widely with faculty in the department. Students will also work closely with the faculty member whom the student has chosen as the dissertation advisor, and with others who seem possible members of the dissertation committee. The completed draft will be submitted to this committee by the last day of classes for the Fall semester of the student’s fourth year.

The planned dissertation committee and the student will meet for a one-hour prospectus conference during the Fall Reading Period. This is meant to be a conversation, with students getting feedback on all aspects of the proposed dissertation – its argument, aims, scope, and components, as well as the plan for research and writing. The prospectus conference will begin with the student offering a brief (ten minutes) presentation of the dissertation’s themes and goals, and questions and discussion will follow, with all committee members participating. Students should come away from this conference with a clear idea of any changes needed in the prospectus itself, and with a clear work plan for beginning dissertation research and writing. In response to the suggestions received at this prospectus conference and subsequently, the student will prepare the final version of the prospectus, to be submitted as soon as possible to the Department for formal approval but no later than Spring Break of the following Spring semester. 

Students will also share their prospectus and dissertation plans at a graduate student workshop. The GSAS workshop for graduate students will be the venue for these conversations, and all faculty and graduate students will be invited to participate. These events are meant as much to help the dissertation-writing student, who will get feedback from peers and other faculty, as to engage the larger community in the dissertation projects from the very first. They will also give entering graduate students a sense of dissertation work from the very first, and allow students to learn across the generations and from each other.


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