General Inquiries

Why do I have to apply for an OGS?  Why should I apply for a SSHRC?

First, because it is great for your own CV. In terms of the SSHRC, sustained success brings with it an increase in the number of dossiers we are allowed to forward to the University-wide competition. The OGS is an important funding source for the University in its own right. An additional benefit of applying is that it helps you focus your research topic and promotes discussion with your advisors.

I’m in PhD 1, do I have to do all of my courses in one year?

We advise to complete your course work in a timely manner; doing so makes studying for the Field Exam easier. However, you may consult with the Graduate Coordinator and explore the possibility of taking a course (or two) in the fall of PhD 2.

How do I choose a supervisor?

By the end of PhD 1, you should approach a faculty member from the Department to act as your supervisor.  If you are having trouble deciding or need advice, contact the Graduate Coordinator.

Should I personally contact professors about being on my supervisory committee?

No. You will be asked to provide the Graduate Coordinator with the name of your chosen supervisor and a list of 4 potential members of your committee. The Graduate Advisory Committee will then assign 2 members of the graduate faculty to your committee.  Every effort will be made to accommodate students’ preferences but the Department reserves the right to make final decisions. This policy is designed to ensure an equitable sharing of supervisory work in the Department and as such, is in everyone’s best interest.

Can you go over when things happen, again?

PhD 1: Take courses

Key date: 15 Mar.

By 15 March, write the Grad Coordinator a letter in which you:

  • Say who you propose as supervisor. You must consult with this faculty prior to sending the letter.
  • Provide a list of 4 potential committee members.
  • Propose a general area for your thesis.

Once you have been informed as to the constitution of your advisory committee, you should speak with each member and hammer out what your primary and secondary subfields will be, ie: Contemporary Peninsular Narrative / Theories of Space or Caribbean Poetry / Nationalism & Citizenship. Your committee members will then negotiate the lists with you. The precise wording and descriptions of the fields are bound to change as you read more and focus your topic.

PhD 2: This is a BUSY year in terms of figuring out your thesis topic and completing major requirements for Candidacy. In the event that you have a course left to take, do so in the fall semester.

Fields & Reading Lists

Key dates: 1 Oct., 1 Nov.

By 1 Oct, submit to the Graduate Coordinator and committee members a brief statement (3-4 pages double-spaced) concerning the primary and secondary subfields for the Field Examination and two reading lists (one for each subfield). The statement should outline your research interests in the primary subfield and explain the relevance of the secondary subfield. Each of the two reading lists should consist of twenty-five to thirty items and should include primary and secondary sources. If changes have been made, submit your lists to your committee members for final approval.

By 1 Nov, submit the committee-approved lists to the Graduate Coordinator (they will now be placed in your file).

Field Examination

Key dates: mid-Jan to mid-Feb

The Field Examination takes place between 15 January and 15 February of PhD 2. It has two parts: a written examination of six hours and an oral examination of two hours. Each part will cover the primary and secondary subfields that the student has prepared. The written examination will consist of three questions out of five offered, at least one of which must be answered in Spanish. It will be scheduled to be written in the department between 9.30am and 4.30 pm on a day in the last two weeks of January.

The oral examination will follow within the two first weeks of February; it will normally be conducted in Spanish, although English may be used to accommodate committee members from cognate units. The Field Committee will grade the two parts of the examination together, on a credit/non-credit basis. A student who does not receive credit on the first attempt must re-take both parts of the examination by May 10

Dissertation Proposal

Key date: 15 April

Each student must submit a Dissertation Proposal (20-25 pages double-spaced, plus bibliography) to the Graduate Coordinator by April 15 of his/her second year of enrolment in the program. Developed in consultation with the student’s supervisor and Field Committee, the proposal should state the questions that the dissertation will address, discuss the current state of scholarship on these questions, indicate the research methodology, and offer a concise analysis of a representative text, a corpus of data, or a pilot study. The proposal should be written in the language that the student intends to use in writing the dissertation (Spanish or English).

Proposal Defence

Key dates: May of PhD 2

Each student must present his/her Dissertation Proposal in a two-hour oral examination, to be held by May 15. The oral examination will consist of two parts. During the first part the student will make a brief presentation (20 minutes) of his/her proposal to graduate faculty members and graduate students in the department, followed by a twenty-minute question period open to the audience.

After that, the public will leave and the student will be questioned by the members of the Field Committee. The examination will normally be conducted in the language of the student’s proposal. The proposal and oral examination will be graded on a credit/non-credit basis. A student who does not receive credit on the first attempt must revise and resubmit the Dissertation Proposal by September 15 of his/her third year of enrolment and re-take the oral examination on the proposal by October 15 of that year.

PhD 3: Work on dissertation.

It’s a good idea to submit one chapter of your thesis and make sure you have your language requirements completed during this year (see below).

PhD 4: Finish & defend dissertation.

Academic Job Market Preparation.

What was that about language requirements?

Before registering for the fourth year in the program, each student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of French and of a third non-English language relevant to his/her area of research. These language requirements may be satisfied by passing the appropriate reading knowledge examinations offered by the various departments of language and literature at the University of Toronto. Significant prior training in a language (such as an undergraduate Major or Minor) will also be accepted as demonstration of reading knowledge.

How do I find an academic job?

Every year in in September, the MLA Job Information List (JIL) database is posted online. During the fall of PhD 4 or 5 (as the case may be), job search workshops will be held to prepare you for the application/interview process. You should plan on attending the MLA convention as a job seeker in the year that you finish your dissertation and ideally, the year before as an observer, so that you can get a sense of what it is like