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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Doctoral Dissertation Fields and Proposal

The preparation of the Doctoral Dissertation Fields and Proposal is a two-semester process normally taking place during the sixth and seventh long semesters of graduate study.  For the first (normally spring) term, students will enroll in ILA 395, 695, or 995 on a Credit/No Credit basis; for the second semester of the process (normally in the fall), they will enroll in ILA 396, 696, or 996, receiving a lettered grade at the end of the term reflecting their cumulative work over the two semesters.  

Early in the spring term (sixth long semester), a special Dissertation Proposal (DP) committee will be formed consisting of the student's mentor and three other GSC faculty members (including one from outside the department) selected by the student after consulting with the departmental graduate adviser. 

1. Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures, and Literatures and Cultures in Portuguese and Spanish

In consultation with the DP committee, the student working on literature and culture topics will draft four Doctoral Dissertation Preparation lists and accompanying critical summaries (with each member of the committee assigned to a particular topic):  (1) a major field list, comprised of a list of works from a general area of interest, defined in terms of the cultural production of a region, nation or associated diaspora, literary or other cultural genre or medium, etc.; (2) a secondary field list, based on the same general parameters as (1), and chosen to enhance the scope of the major field without overlapping with it, thus lending the project a transnational, interdisciplinary or comparative component; (3) a specialization list (normally assigned to the student's mentor) reflecting the particular research interests of the student within the major field, with the understanding that this list will serve as the main basis of her/his dissertation proposal; and (4) a theory list, a comprehensive corpus of theoretical works relevant to the main thrust of the student's specialization.  By April 15, the student will submit to the entire DP committee a critical summary of each of the lists (generally 2-3 double-spaced pages each), convincingly showing in each case how the included works illuminate a set of problems relevant to the fields at hand.  Finally, a meta-summary (generally 4-6 pages) should demonstrate how the four-fields lists dialogue with one another in cohesive ways, thereby highlighting the interdisciplinary and theoretical dimensions of the student's research interests, while also making a case for the innovative aspects of the specialization.  The DP committee will meet to discuss the lists and summaries.  If there are any objections to one or more of the critical summaries, the whole dossier may be revised and re-submitted on a one-time only basis.  By the end of the semester, the DP committee as a whole will determine the viability of the proposed project (Pass/Fail) and provide the student with relevant feedback, copying its recommendations to the department's Graduate Studies Committee. 

If approved by the GSC, the student will be allowed in the seventh long semester of study (normally the fall) to prepare a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal articulating an original, theoretically grounded hypothesis based on his/her specialization.  In drafting this proposal, the student must emphasize the academic significance of the project, and offer well-organized and detailed summaries of each chapter, thereby drawing from and building on the work done in the previous semester.  By October 15, the student will present to the DP committee a first draft of the proposal, including a preliminary bibliography (generally between 15 and 20 pages total).  The purpose of this step is to share written feedback to be used in the final version of the proposal.   By November 15, the student must submit the final version of the dissertation proposal, defending it before the DP committee by the end of the semester. 

2. Iberian and Latin American Linguistics

During the sixth long semester of graduate study, and in consultation with the DP committee, the student working on linguistics topics will (1) identify and describe a question or problem worthy of further investigation in any area of linguistics (2-3 pages), (2) prepare an annotated list of most relevant previous publications that may address the selected question, and (3) write a description of the significance of the analysis of the chosen topic for the larger field of studies (3-4 pages).  The list and accompanying descriptions must be submitted to the DP committee by April 15. The DP committee will meet to discuss the lists and summaries.  If there are any objections to one or more of the three components, the whole dossier may be revised and re-submitted on a one-time-only basis.  By the end of the semester, the DP committee as a whole will determine the viability of the proposed project (Pass/Fail) and provide the student with relevant feedback. 

In the seventh long semester of studies, the student will develop a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal featuring an original, theoretically-grounded hypothesis based on his/her specialization, emphasizing the academic significance of the project, and offering well-organized and detailed summaries of each chapter, thereby drawing from and building on the work done in the previous semester. The student will submit the final draft of the proposal (generally between 15 and 20 pages total) to the DP committee no later than November 15, defending it before the DP committee by the end of the semester.


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