Preliminary Examination Proposal Guidance for Plan H

In consultation with their advisor, students prepare a preliminary examination proposal of no more than 8 double-spaced pages, plus a list of 90-100 scholarly items divided roughly evenly across three scholarly areas. An item is usually defined as a single-author book, a collection or anthology, or a special journal issue. However, three to four essays or short works may also count as one item, and in some cases a major journal article or book chapter may be counted as an item.  All items must be listed in proper citation format, using MLA or Chicago Style citations.

The proposal preparation and review process, the exam preparation/study process, and the examination itself are meant to help the student explore key ideas and works in their field(s) and then to demonstrate the student’s expertise in the key secondary literature in each of the three areas. The student will submit their proposal to the GPC for feedback and approval. The GPC can reject the proposal and return it for further work. If it does, the GPC must explain why it rejected the proposal and what revisions are required. Please consult the Department of English Graduate Student Handbook for details of the proposal and examination process.

Plan H students should prepare their prelim proposals, including area descriptions and three lists of readings, according to the guidelines below. Students should work closely with their advisor to determine the three areas and should consult their three-person prelim committee for feedback as they compose their descriptions and lists.

Area 1:

Theory – In consultation with their advisor, students should select a theoretical area to focus on for area 1. Area may be one of those listed below, may combine two listed areas, or may be of the student’s own designation, but all choices must be in consultation with the advisor. Recommendation is that reading lists draw a minimum of ten titles from suggested lists:

Area 2:

Critical/Medium-Specific, Historical, or Methodological Area of Expertise – In consultation with their advisor, students should select an area of critical/medium-specific, historical, or methodological expertise to focus on for area 2. See descriptions below for more detail and some samples of the kinds of lists one might construct. Lists should include some foundational scholarship on the subject combined with more recent developments.

  • Critical/Medium-specific area, e.g., Game Studies; American TV History
  • Period-specific area, e.g., Early Cinema; Mid-century Media & Culture
  • Method/Approach-specific area, e.g., Media Historiography; Media Production Studies; Representation Analysis

Area 3:

Dissertation Research focus – This is the most open-ended of lists but should be developed in consultation with the advisor. Students should consider this list an opportunity to master an array of secondary sources related to the field and/or topic of their likely dissertation research.