Department of English

Graduate

PhD Program

Qualifying Exam

Students must take exams in two fields - one historical field and one conceptual field.

The lists for both fields will be constructed by the candidate in close consultation with a committee consisting of at least three faculty members from the Department of English, and one faculty member from outside the Department. Historical fields generally include those traditionally recognized within the discipline. Conceptual fields may be critical theory fields, literary history fields, genre fields, history of ideas fields, or thematic fields. Conceptual fields should be designed to cover ground well beyond the student's area of historical specialization.

The Qualifying Examinations are an occasion for students to display their expertise in their chosen historical and conceptual fields; their main function is to help students develop the intellectual and scholarly credentials necessary for success in the profession.

PhD Historical Field Lists

Each historical field list comprises no less than 80% of the final list compiled by the student in consultation with their committee. This allows students to have a set template and then to work with advisors, based on their interests, to supplement that template. Please keep this final length limit in mind when you consult with faculty about adding items to the list.

Sampling of PhD Conceptual Fields

  • The American Conscience, 1820-1920: Moral Philosophy, Social Purpose, and Reform
  • Boundaries of the Body
  • Domestic Utopianism
  • Early English Drama and Theories of Performance
  • Feminist Theory
  • Insular Multilingualism and English Cultural Identity
  • Literary Cosmopolitanism in 20th Century American Literature
  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Spectacle of Identity: Deformity, Difference, and the Body
  • Scholarly Editing in the Late Age of Print: Textual Criticism and the Digital Humanities
  • Spatialized Subjectivities and the Geographical Imagination
  • Transatlantic Studies