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Preliminary Exam Guidelines

The preliminary exam for Plan A doctoral students will have the following three parts:

  1. Major field of literature and culture [approx. 50% of total number of texts]
  2. Field of cultural theory [25% of total number of texts]
  3. Field developed by the student and committee (e.g. subfield to contextualize probable dissertation topic; additional field of literature and culture or theory; or field defined by genre) [25% of total number of texts]

Regarding the “major field of literature and culture” (1) and the field of “cultural theory” (2), students will select from among the following areas set out by Plan A faculty. A minimum of half of each bibliography (of primary and contextual materials) will be selected from a list of recommended texts designed in advance by faculty with expertise in these fields and up to half may be developed by the student. The third reading list will be left to students and advisors to develop.


Major Fields of Literature and Culture

For British Literature and Culture

For American Literature and Culture

Writing by Women (a specialization possible in any of the above fields)


Fields of Cultural Theory