The PhD requires a total of 17 courses, 11 of which must be Italian graduate courses. Five elective courses will be chosen in consultation with the Italian DGS. A sixth course may be an additional elective course or an Italian graduate course, pending approval from the DGS. The electives must include a literary theory course and the departmental pedagogy course (RLLT 38800). The literary theory course may be taken in another department with the approval of the DGS. The 17 required courses must be taken for a letter grade (B or better).
Students who enter the program with a completed MA from another institution may petition, at the end of their first year, to receive credit for up to four courses taken outside of the program. In order to request credit, students will have to provide the DGS with a syllabus for each course by Friday of the seventh week of spring quarter. Faculty will review all such petitions at the spring progress meeting and the DGS will inform the student of the results of their petition.
Students entering the program without an MA will be required to submit to the Italian faculty a 25-page research essay of his/her choice, based on a seminar paper, by the end of sixth week of fall quarter of the second year of study. Papers will receive a grade of High Pass, Pass or Fail, which will be added to the student’s department record but will not appear on their university transcript. Students will be awarded the MA degree upon the successful completion of this paper and all required courses.
Students who enter the program with a completed MA from another institution, but who did not receive credit for any courses taken outside the program, may petition to receive this degree upon the successful completion of all first- and second-year requirements (including language requirements, but excluding the comprehensive exam).
Students must demonstrate competence in a second Romance Language and a research language relevant to the student's chosen field of specialization. The language requirements may be filled in any of the ways listed below. Please note that language courses do not count towards the PhD course requirements.
- Passing a translation exam administered by an RLL faculty member who teaches the target language. In this case, the student will be given a passage of 500-600 words (selected from a text in the student’s area of research and chosen in consultation with the faculty member who will administer the exam) to be translated into English within two hours. A dictionary may be used, and students can use a computer or handwrite the exam. Students wishing to take this exam must e-mail, at least three weeks prior to the anticipated date of the examination, the Department Assistant to reserve a room and finalize other logistics;
- Taking the first-year language sequence (or equivalent), and receiving a grade of B+ or better in all courses in the sequence;
- Taking a Reading for Research Purposes course (e.g., GRMN 33300) in the target language, and receiving a grade of B+ or better;
- Taking a course beyond 20300 in the target language and receiving a grade of B+ or better;
- Passing the Reading Comprehension Examination administered by the Chicago Language Center. There is a $70 fee for taking this exam; see http://languages.uchicago.edu/ARCA/arca_exams.php for more information.
In consultation with the DGS and the relevant faculty, first-year students will select three works that they have studied in their courses throughout the year. At least two of these works must be selected by the tenth week of the winter quarter. The student may defer selection of the third work to the end of the third week of spring quarter. In consultation with the faculty members who taught the chosen works, the student shall develop a short critical bibliography (three to five works) related to each text.
In the seventh week of spring quarter each student will engage in a conversation of approximately one hour with the Italian faculty (all those in residence, plus those who taught the three works chosen by the student) about their specialized reading. The exam will be scheduled by the DGS in consultation with the faculty and student. The exam will allow students to begin to explore fields they believe may be of interest to them, and to use their courses as a springboard from which they may further develop their intellectual projects. Students will receive a grade of High Pass, Pass, or Fail, which will be added to their departmental record but will not appear on their university transcript.
The comprehensive exam is based on two reading lists and is to be taken no later than week five of autumn quarter of the student’s third year.
List 1 is a comprehensive overview of the Italian canon based on the Italian PhD reading list. The list is composed of mandatory readings and a selection of possible alternatives. The student must send the finalized list to all professors in the Italian section by the last week of spring quarter of their second year.
List 2 is based on the student’s area of research and is composed of 10 to 15 texts chosen by the student in consultation with a professor chosen as exam chair by the student (who may or may not be the DGS). It is up to the student whether she or he wants to select books from List 1, from outside the list, or a combination of the two.
Once the lists have been compiled (and List 2 has been approved), the student will submit a signed Comprehensive Examination Chair Form to the Department Coordinator, and at least three weeks prior to the anticipated date of the examination, she or he will make the necessary arrangements to determine the date and communicate with the Department Assistant to reserve a room and finalize other logistics.
The first part of the exam, exclusively based on List 1, will be a four-hour written essay in which students will respond to two questions out of a list of questions/topics provided by the exam committee. Questions can be on any individual text or a combination of texts or on general theoretical issues. A dictionary may be used, and students can use a computer or handwrite the exam.
If the student passes the written exam, she or he will move on to a 90-minute oral exam, which will be based on the written responses as well as on Lists 1 and 2. The student is expected to provide a brief introduction (approx.10 mins.) on the topic of List 2. The written and oral exams must be taken within the same week.
Students will receive a grade of High Pass, Pass, or Fail, which will be added to their department record but will not appear on their university transcript.
By the time a student has completed his/her comprehensive examinations s/he should have chosen a dissertation adviser, and obtained the agreement of that person to direct the dissertation. In consultation with the dissertation adviser, the student will constitute a dissertation committee who will guide and advise the student’s research.
Students should plan to have their proposal approved by their committee no more than one quarter after the completion of their comprehensive exams.
- Year 1: Coursework; preparation for language requirements; first-year exam; for students entering without an MA, work on 25-page research essay. Students who have an MA from another institution may petition, during spring quarter, to receive credit for up to four courses taken as part of their MA.
- Year 2: Completion of coursework; preparation for language requirements; preparation for comprehensive exams; for students entering without an MA, completion of 25-page research essay (due by the end of sixth week of fall quarter).
- Year 3: Comprehensive exams; fulfillment of language requirements; dissertation proposal and colloquium to be completed no later than one quarter after the comprehensive exams are taken. The exams and the proposal/colloquium must be completed by the end of the third year.
- Year 4: Dissertation research and writing; applications for dissertation-year fellowships.
- Year 5: Dissertation research and writing; job applications.
Although funding is not guaranteed past the fifth year, many dissertation fellowships, both internal and external, are available for students who require an additional year to complete their dissertation writing. In addition, students who are making satisfactory progress in the program may apply to teach language or Core courses to support themselves for an additional year and to gain additional pedagogical experience while completing the dissertation.