Prior to the completion of the Comprehensive Exams, CL Combined program students should select a dissertation topic and a dissertation Director, as well as two additional readers. The dissertation will need to be comparative in focus, that is, it should involve at least two national literatures. While we encourage students to consider links to other disciplines such as art, film, architecture, etc., the basis of the dissertation should be literature.
The student should submit a 1-2 page proposal and a list of bibliographical sources for the dissertation, approved by the all 3 members of his/her Dissertation Committee, to the CL Director of Graduate Study within two weeks of the final comprehensive exam.
The student should work with the thesis Director to establish an effective and efficient calendar for submission of work, allowing time for revisions. Once the Director has approved a chapter, the student should submit it to the other two readers.
Students are expected to respect the suggestions for revision from all three of their readers for each chapter as they go along. This process ensures that the dissertation is sound from their different perspectives before the student submits the completed dissertation to the larger committee for the "defense."
The student is responsible for completing all of the necessary forms for the Graduate School by the dates that it sets, and for formatting the dissertation in accordance with its guidelines.
The dissertation Director is responsible for assisting the Graduate School in assembling the full six- or seven-member committee for the defense, and for arranging a defense date.
Once the dissertation Director has approved the content and the style (we recommend MLA style) of the entire dissertation, the student should distribute hard copies of the full document to all members of the defense committee, including external readers, in preparation for the oral defense. Students should allow a minimum of two weeks for committee members to read the thesis; three is better.
While certain critiques and suggestions from the larger committee during the defense are to be expected, indeed encouraged, the dissertation Director, by signaling his/her approval for the student's submission of the dissertation to the defense committee, is indicating that he/she, along with the other two committee members, stands by the work and is prepared to articulate support for its content and its form at the defense.
For additional information, please visit the Graduate School.