Fiction Workshop

Literature PhD


Contact Erin Edwards, Director of the Literature Program or Cynthia Klestinec, Director of the English Graduate Program

PhD Requirements 

For Ph.D. students in literature, the coursework comprised in a Course of Study might observe period distinctions or, where appropriate, cut across those in order to achieve historical range.  It might emphasize study of a single genre or aim to achieve a representative balance of genres in focusing on a particular movement at a particular time.  It might focus entirely on a single national, ethnic, or cultural tradition or traverse such boundaries.  The Course of Study must take into account the historical distribution requirement and other course requirements, and it may include more than one composition and rhetoric course.

Course requirements for students who will write a dissertation in a literary field:

  • ENG 603: Theories and Their Histories (4 hrs.)
  • ENG 605: Issues in the Profession (2 hrs.)
  • ENG 606: Teaching Practicum I: College Composition (2 hrs.), required for all Teaching Associates
  • ENG 607: Teaching Practicum II: College Composition (2 hrs.), required for all Teaching Associates
  • ENG 731: Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition (4 hrs.), required for all Teaching Associates 
  • Eight 4-hour seminars at the 600-level or above:

Of the eight, six seminars in literature are required, one is required in ENG 750, and one is an open elective in English.

Historical Distribution Requirements

The Ph.D. in literature presupposes a breadth of literary and cultural knowledge.  Satisfaction of the 16-hour historical distribution requirement for the Miami MA (see the department’s Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty, Section 2), comprising courses in four fields, is presupposed.  Doctoral students admitted from a master’s program other than Miami’s may, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, partially satisfy the historical distribution requirement with transferred courses, within the 12-credit limit established by the Graduate School (see the Graduate School’s Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty).  The historical distribution requirement for Ph.D. students in literature further requires (a) one course in English or American literature before 1700 and (b) one course in English or American literature between 1700 and 1900. Courses used to satisfy the historical distribution requirement for the Miami MA will also fulfill this requirement.

Seminar Requirements

Eight seminars at the 600-level or above in English are required during the first two years for the Ph.D., not counting ENG 605 (Issues in the Profession), courses in foreign language or in a cognate field, or ENG 603 (Literary Theories and Their Histories) or ENG 731 (The Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition) if they had not been completed for the MA.  Of the eight, one is required in ENG 750 (see below) and one is an open elective in English.  Cross-listed graduate courses with an ENG prefix are countable.  Only when circumstances clearly require it, one and only one independent-study course will be permitted to substitute for a seminar during the first two years of Ph.D. work, and only then by petition to the Director of Graduate Studies.

ENG 750 (Histories and Methodologies) will center on a specific area of contemporary theoretical work and critical practice, providing the opportunity for students to integrate its methods with their own areas of interest (for instance, historical, generic).   It is required for Ph.D. students in literature, who may take the course a second time when the topic changes.  (Moreover, it is recommended for MA students who intend to pursue doctoral work or whose interests coincide with the topic of the course.)

Transfer credit is usable only for the satisfaction of historical distribution requirements or ENG 603. It cannot be used to satisfy any part of the eight-seminar requirement.

In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies a student may have the area of a master’s thesis count toward the distribution requirement for the doctorate.  

Ph.D. Advisory Committee

In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, the student will form a Ph.D. Advisory Committee by the beginning of the fourth semester.  The committee consists of four members of the department and a representative of the Graduate School.  The chair of the committee and the Graduate School representative must hold Level A graduate faculty standing; other committee members must hold Level A or Level B standing.  The chair should be a faculty member whose research interests coincide with the student’s area of concentration.  The Director of Graduate Studies will review the appropriateness of the chair and committee members before the committee is appointed.  The required functions of the Ph.D. Advisory Committee are to direct the student’s final course work, advise the student in preparing his/her description of an area of concentration, obtain approval of the description including the reading lists, and see that all requirements for taking the comprehensive examination have been completed.  The required functions also include providing timely advice on professional preparation. When the committee feels the student is prepared, it recommends to the Director of Graduate Studies that the student sit for the comprehensive examination, which it offers and evaluates. The five members of the Ph.D. Advisory Committee are then recommended to the Dean of the Graduate School by the Chair of the Department as the Comprehensive Examination Committee.

The Comprehensive Examination

The student’s application to take the examination must be approved by the English Department Director of Graduate Studies and by the Dean of the Graduate School at least 10 business days prior to the examination.  The four members of the Ph.D. Advisory Committee from the department and one member from outside the department are appointed by the Dean as the Comprehensive Examination Committee on the recommendation of the Chair of the Department.

The student may apply for the examination and schedule it after having met the requirements of the minimum number of course hours for the degree, the specific course requirements, the languages or the language and cognate fields, and residence.  When the student sits for the exam, he/she must have no incompletes and must have a 3.0 graduate point average or better.

Area of Concentration and Reading List

In consultation with the members of his/her Ph.D. Advisory Committee, the student will draw up a description of an area of concentration, ten pages in length including a list of the 50 works on which he/she will be examined during the oral portion of the comprehensive exam. This description is not a prospectus for a dissertation. Rather it should delimit a significant and extensive area in which work has been and can be done. 

For Ph.D. students in literature, this document is to address most, if not all, of the following questions: What are the most important literary or cultural arguments in this area of concentration?  What primary materials (genres, national traditions, and media, as well as authors and works) comprise the area in which the student has chosen to demonstrate competence?  Which texts must the student know in order to work in the area?