The department requires that all PhD students possess an advanced level of reading ability in the literature and scholarship of at least one foreign language, as assessed by the Language Exam.
Each student will take responsibility for setting up his or her own exam. The first step is to consult with a member of the English department who has been designated as an examiner for a particular language. If no one in the department has been so designated for a particular language, candidates should consult with the DGS in order to identify an approved examiner outside the department.
The next step is to select two texts on which to be examined: one of these texts should be a "primary" text -- i.e., a work of poetry, fiction, drama, etc. -- and the other should be a "secondary" text of some kind (critical, literary-historical, theoretical, etc.). Both texts must be selected in consultation with the examiner.
Once the texts have been set, the candidate and the examiner should agree upon fifty pages in each of the two texts from which the examiner will choose one-page excerpts for translation at the time of the exam.
Finally, on a date settled at the convenience of the candidate and the examiner, the exam will be given in two parts: oral and written. In the oral portion, the student will translate aloud (and without the assistance of a dictionary) a passage of approximately one page from one of the texts. In the written portion, the student will produce a typed translation of approximately one page from the remaining text (for which a dictionary is permitted). The former will take about 20 minutes; for the latter, the student will be given two hours. (It is up to the student to decide which of the two texts -- primary or secondary -- he/she would rather be tested on in which part of the exam; but the choice should be communicated to the examiner ahead of time.)
Department Faculty Contacts for the Language Exam