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Plan B Preliminary Exam Guidelines

The preliminary exam for Plan B doctoral students will have the following three parts:
1. Major field [approx. 1/3 of total number of texts]. The major field should be chosen in consultation with the committee. The field must be a recognized or emerging area of inquiry in rhetoric. Possible major fields include, but are not limited to:

  • composition pedagogy
  • critical technical communication
  • cultural rhetorics
  • digital rhetoric
  • feminist rhetorics
  • multimodal composition
  • public rhetorics
  • rhetoric and technology
  • rhetorics of science and medicine
  • usability studies
  • WAC/CAC/WID
  • workplace writing

2. Theoretical field [approx. 1/3 of total number of texts]. The theoretical field should be chosen in consultation with the committee and designed to better contextualize possible dissertation topics. Possible theoretical fields include, but are not limited to:

  • agency theory
  • classical rhetorical theory
  • critical race theory
  • democratic theory
  • feminist theory
  • multiliteracies theory
  • new materialisms
  • organization theory
  • postcolonial theory
  • publics theory
  • queer theory
  • rhetorical epistemologies
  • transfer theory
  • translingual theory

3. Content domain or methods area [approx. 1/3 of total number of texts]. The content domain or methods area should be chosen in consultation with the committee and designed to lead to a dissertation project. Students pursuing a dissertation project focused on extant archives, corpora, or bodies of material should prepare a content domain. Students who plan on conducting an empirical dissertation should prepare a methods area.

  • Content domains should include both primary and secondary sources (~50% each) from or about a body of material that could form the core of a dissertation project. Possible content domains might include a selection archival materials, a collection of aesthetic texts/media, a corpus of genre exemplars, and associated scholarship on these specific items or similar content domains. (Note: If the type of primary source item chosen falls outside the scope of the items policy, the number selected should be adjusted to ensure a comparable workload.)
  • Methods areas should include both practical guides and scholarly exemplars (~50% each) from an appropriate research tradition. Common examples will include, but are not limited to, ethnography, interview methods, survey design, grounded theory, computational approaches, or usability methods.