The aim of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures is to train students to become effective teachers and scholars of Spanish and/or Portuguese language and culture. Instruction and supervision are so arranged as to ensure that students acquire a broad understanding of the whole field of Spanish and/or Luso-Brazilian studies as well as a specialized grasp of one of its sub-fields, and are well-prepared to develop independently as scholars.
To qualify for graduate work in the department, the candidate must show evidence of a comprehensive knowledge of Spanish and/or Luso-Brazilian literature and basic competence, written and oral, in the target language. A broad training in the humanities is an advantage. By the end of the second year of graduate study, all students must demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language other than Spanish or Portuguese that is relevant to the student’s field of specialization. Students are urged to fulfill this requirement in the first year. The language requirement must be satisfied in order for the student to be authorized to take the general examination. In addition, students specializing in Hispanic literature and culture are required to take at least one 500-level Portuguese course and, likewise, students focusing on Luso-Brazilian topics are expected to take at least one 500-level Spanish course.
· A total of at least 15 graduate-level courses (14 for letter grade credit, and one that may be an audit in the third year)
· Two to three course units in graduate courses other than Spanish and Portuguese (with an absolute maximum of five), usually in an allied field pertinent to the student's area of specialization
· A foreign language reading proficiency examination
· An oral presentation in the first year
· A comprehensive general examination
· A completed doctoral dissertation and its oral public defense
Graduate students are eligible to apply for the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree if they have completed the oral presentation in the first year; all required course work, with no incompletes, including the language pedagogy seminar, with an average grade of B or better; and have taken and passed one of the two parts of the general examination.
Course of Study
The normal Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program takes five years, the first two being devoted to preparing for the general examination; the third through fifth to conceptualizing and writing the dissertation. Readmission each year is contingent upon continued satisfactory performance. Courses may be broad and basic, designed to prepare students for more specialized and original work, or they may be seminars intended to prepare students to work independently and intensively on particular projects. Students are encouraged to take courses in allied subjects, such as art history, comparative literature, history, etc., when such work is of demonstrable importance to their field.
Fields of Concentration
During the first two years, students choose their courses in consultation with the director of graduate studies, with a view to achieving a basic mastery of four of the department’s five fields of concentration: 1) Medieval/Renaissance, 2) Modern Peninsular, 3) Colonial, 4) Modern Latin American, and 5) Luso-Brazilian.
A student may, however, elect to eliminate examination in one of these four areas by fulfilling course work—for letter-grade credit—in two graduate seminars devoted to that particular field. A total of three fields would, in such a case, be tested on the general exams.
The department expects students to enroll in courses or seminars in all the fields of the department. Normally, by the end of their fifth term of study, they should have taken a total of 15 courses or seminars, including one in literary theory. In the general examination, which is based on the reading lists, students are examined on both their field of concentration and their general knowledge of the other fields. The dissertation is in the chosen field. Students may, however, choose to bridge fields in selecting a dissertation topic.
Oral Presentation. Students in their first year prepare an oral presentation that they deliver to the faculty during the second week of the final exam period of the fall semester. A text is selected by the student from a list supplied by the faculty, using it as the basis from which to develop a fifteen-minute talk, offering a clear line of reasoning in good Spanish or Portuguese. The student can use notes for the talk, but should not read a prepared text. This is a diagnostic exercise designed to assess the student’s analytical abilities and success in situating the topic chosen in the context of the literary work as a whole. After the talk, the student will respond to questions regarding the text and the talk. This examination will not be assigned a letter grade; however, the assessment made by the faculty will be recorded and communicated to the student by the director of graduate studies. Failure to perform to satisfaction will result in termination from the program. In some cases, the faculty may recommend that the student strengthen specific areas.
General Examination. The general examination is taken in two parts, one at the end of the second year and the other at the beginning of the third year. It consists of two written parts, the first covers each of the five fields of study; the second is devoted to the student’s area of specialization. Students who fail to sustain the general examination may present themselves on one further occasion, within one year of the first examination.
Dissertation Proposal. The articulation of the dissertation topic and the methodology that will be employed in its writing will be presented to the faculty at the end of the fifth semester. It will consist of: 1) a detailed oral presentation of the dissertation topic in the language in which the dissertation will be written; and 2) an examination by the faculty on this proposal and its implications. The faculty will make suggestions to the student, either approving the proposal as it stands, or requesting revision and resubmission. (At this time, the department may also decide to grant the student a terminal master’s degree).
The student must submit a written version of the proposal to the director of graduate studies for transmission to the faculty no later than one week before the public presentation. This document must include an explanatory essay indicating what the thesis proposes to study and why it is important to the field. In addition, it should detail a chapter-by-chapter outline of the proposed thesis, and should include a substantial bibliography on the dissertation topic.
After the public presentation of the proposal, the director of graduate studies will communicate the Faculty’s comments to the student. If judged unacceptable, the proposal may be resubmitted one time only after revision.
Students wishing to write their dissertation in Spanish or Portuguese, rather than in English, must obtain the prior approval of the director of graduate studies, who will consult with the dissertation director. If permission is granted, an explanatory letter from the thesis director and a formal request by the director of graduate studies will then be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School, who approves the request.
Final Public Oral Examination. The examination consists of the following three parts: 1) a brief (thirty-minute) presentation by the candidate of the dissertation in English, Spanish, or Portuguese; 2) an examination by the three principal examiners; and 3) questions by other faculty in attendance. The exercise usually lasts an hour. The final public oral is open to all members of the University community and graduate students are welcome to attend.
Teaching Requirement and Assistantships
Students are normally given an assistantship in instruction as part of their admission package. The classroom experience is of great value for the development of teaching skills. The success of our department in placing its graduates is closely linked to their training and experience in this essential professional activity.
Graduate students will be assigned to teach specific courses based on the following: previous course evaluations, seniority, appropriateness of field, number of incompletes, and the discretion of the professor in charge of the course. This applies to all levels of teaching, from language courses to precepts. In the case of precepts, only post-generals students will be considered.
Students will teach during the fall semesters of their second, third, and fourth years. This will allow them time to concentrate on their graduate seminars in their first year and will also relieve the pressure during the fourth semester, when they will be preparing for their general examinations.
Students on outside fellowships will also be required to teach, at the department´s discretion. All graduate students will be visited at least once a semester by the head of the course they teach. After the visit, the head of course will meet with the student to discuss performance, offer suggestions, and, if necessary, arrange for a follow-up visit. The head of course will also complete a departmental evaluation form, which will be placed in the student´s file.
Colloquia and Lectures
The department offers a very lively intellectual climate, with scholarly colloquia, public lectures, workshops, and related events. Attendance of graduate students at such events is strongly urged since these events provide valuable insight into the performative aspects of our profession as speakers, respondents, and presenters.
Students are encouraged to selectively participate and read papers related to their fields of interest at professional meetings in the United States and abroad. Given the demands of the program, however, the Department advises that students favor publications in professional journals over conference papers.