Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Calendar - 2006/2007
Canadian Excellence

PhD in Literary Studies/Theatre Studies in English

The department, together with the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, offers specializations in the following five fields: Canadian studies, early modern studies, postcolonial studies, studies in gender and genre and nineteenth-century studies. The purpose of the program is to offer professional education and training for students who wish to pursue careers in postsecondary teaching, research, administration, and other fields in which excellent analytical, organizational and communication skills are required.

Students in the program register at one of the two universities, but may complete course work and use faculty and library resources at both universities. Students are governed by the regulations of the university in which they are registered and their degree is granted by the home university.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the program normally requires an MA in English, an MA in drama/theatre, or an equivalent degree with at least an A- average in graduate work.  Applications are considered by the PhD Program Committee and a recommendation to admit or decline is forwarded to the dean of Graduate Studies at the proposed home university.

Program Requirements

Although students might choose either literary studies or theatre studies, innovative opportunities exist in the program to pursue work across these traditional disciplinary boundaries. The degree requirements consist of four one-term (0.5 credit) graduate courses to be taken in the first year of the program; one General Area Seminar (0.5 credit) culminating in the submission and colloquium presentation of a conference-style research paper; one Intensive Area Seminar (1.0 credit) culminating in the qualifying candidacy examination, which consists of the written research paper (theoretical or critical) and oral examination for the intensive area seminar; and a dissertation (2.0 credits).

Doctoral students in the joint program must maintain a minimum grade of B+ in each course to be eligible to continue in the program.

Area Seminars

The area seminars are structured directed-reading courses in two different fields, intended to provide concentrated training in the student's expected areas of research. The seminars involve regular consultations between the student and the seminar director.  The general area seminar will normally be taken during the second, third and fourth terms. The intensive area seminar will normally be taken during the fifth, sixth and seventh terms and will culminate in the qualifying candidacy examination by the end of the seventh term (the beginning of year three).

General Area Seminar (Year 1)
The General Area Seminar (GAS) explores a field of study other than the student's field of specialization for the intensive area seminar and dissertation. The GAS emphasizes thorough general knowledge of the area's scope, relevant theoretical frameworks and research methodologies, with due regard to the student's own teaching, research interests and critical perspectives. The reading and other activities related to the GAS proceed in close consultation with the GAS committee, which consists of the GAS advisor and one other core faculty member.

Intensive Area Seminar (Year 2)
The Intensive Area Seminar (IAS) develops the student's primary area of specialization in preparation for the dissertation and normally overlaps with work on the dissertation. The IAS involves individualized, directed study of the literary, cultural and theoretical contexts related to the dissertation topic and thus provides the student with the research and pedagogical contexts to undertake the dissertation. The various components of the IAS are intended to connect with one another, their purpose being to produce work that will be included in the dissertation (e.g., a chapter, part of the dissertation bibliography, and so forth). The IAS advisory committee consists of three faculty members: the IAS advisor (also the dissertation advisor) and two other core faculty members, one of whom must be from the institution other than the student's home institution. This committee also constitutes the student's dissertation committee. The IAS culminates in the qualifying candidacy examination.

The qualifying candidacy examination consists of the written research paper (theoretical or critical) and the oral examination on that paper as well as other materials covered in the IAS. The IAS is normally completed in December of year three. A committee consisting of the IAS advisor, the two faculty members of the IAS committee, and two additional members of the graduate faculty conducts the qualifying candidacy examination. Ideally, the members of the IAS committee will represent a range of institutional and disciplinary sites. Upon satisfactory completion of the examination, the student is deemed to have met the joint PhD program standards and becomes an all but dissertation (ABD) candidate for the PhD degree

Progress Reports

A student who twice fails the GAS, the IAS or the language examination will normally be required to withdraw from the program.

In May of the first year of registration and once a year thereafter, a student is required to complete an annual research progress report detailing the achievements of the previous year and the objectives for the next year.  The report must demonstrate satisfactory progress, and must be signed with comments by the supervisor and graduate officer, and filed with both the program co-directors and the Graduate Studies Office of the home university. Failure to submit a satisfactory report may result in the student being required to withdraw from the program.

Language Requirement

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one language other than modern English. In certain cases, students' research may require demonstrable competency in more than one language other than modern English. 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 Joint PhD Program Committee. The language should have direct relevance to the student's program of study. The aim is to test the student's ability to read critically in another language rather than to demonstrate mastery of translation. Assessment of the student's reading proficiency is based on a three-hour examination, which consists of the student's translation (with the help of a dictionary) of one passage in prose and a written analysis (in English) of the passage's critical implications. A faculty member with expertise in the language grades the examination on a pass/fail basis. Evidence that a student has already demonstrated similar language ability at another university before admission may be submitted to the Joint PhD Program Committee with a request to have the language requirement waived. Credit will be given at the discretion of the Joint PhD Program Committee to any student who has fulfilled the equivalent language requirement through an MA-level examination. Credit will not normally be given for the completion of a university- level language course.

Typically the language requirement will be completed by the end of year two (the sixth term of study). A student who fails the language examination twice will normally be required to withdraw from the program.

PhD Dissertation

Following successful completion of the two area seminars, 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 will assume the primary supervisory role. The dissertation should normally be between 50,000 and 75,000 words in length. The regulations and procedures at the university in which the student is registered will govern both the dissertation and the examination formats.

Decisions in the PhD Thesis Defence
Five decisions are open to the examining committee:

  • Accepted - Thesis may require typographical and/or minor editorial corrections to be made to the satisfaction of the supervisor.
  • Accepted with modifications - Thesis requires minor changes in substance or major editorial changes which are to be made to the satisfaction of members of the examining committee designated by the committee. The examining committee's report must include a brief outline of the nature of the changes required and must indicate the time by which the changes should be completed. Normally such changes should be completed within four weeks of the date of the examination.
  • Accepted conditionally - Thesis requires more substantive changes, but will be acceptable when these changes are made to the satisfaction of those members of the examining committee designated by the committee. The examining committee's report must include a brief outline of the nature of the changes required and the date by which the changes are to be completed.
  • Decision deferred - Thesis requires modifications of a substantial nature, the need for which makes the acceptability of the thesis questionable. The examining committee's report must contain a brief outline of the modifications expected and should indicate the time by which the changes are to be completed. The revised thesis must be resubmitted for re-examination. Normally, the re-examination will follow the same procedures as for the initial submission except that the display period may be reduced or eliminated at the discretion of the appropriate graduate dean. Normally the same examining committee will serve. A decision to defer is open only once for each candidate.
  • Rejected - Thesis is rejected. The examining committee shall report the reasons for rejection. A student whose doctoral thesis has been rejected is required to withdraw from the PhD program.
  • If the examining committee is not prepared to reach a decision at the time of the thesis defence, it is the responsibility of the chair to determine what additional information is required by the committee to reach a decision, to arrange to obtain this information for the committee and to call another meeting of the committee as soon as the required information is available. It is also the responsibility of the chair to inform the candidate about the delay.

    Residency Regulations

    At least five semesters of full-time study must be devoted to the doctoral program following the completion of a recognized master's degree.