HISTART 990 - Dissertation/Precandidate
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: History of Art (HISTART)
Department: LSA History of Art
1 - 8
Advisory Prerequisites:
Election for dissertation work by doctoral student not yet admitted as a Candidate. Graduate standing.
Grading basis of 'S' or 'U'.
May be repeated for credit.

The Preliminary Examination, normally taken in April of the third year, forms a bridge between coursework and dissertation research. It is based upon the student’s initial formulation of a dissertation topic. By the close of the second year, students are required to give the DGS a tentative list of three members of the Preliminary Examination Committee. The precise areas of questioning and the bibliography begin to be developed by the student in consultation with members of the Committee at a meeting convened well in advance of the examination, but no later than the beginning of the term prior to the term in which the student intends to take the Preliminary Examination.

The Preliminary Examination is designed to consolidate and test students’ command over the art and scholarship of their major field of study: students must demonstrate up-to-date knowledge of principal artists, genres and monuments, and familiarity with scholarly literature and art historical problems. The examination is set by the student’s primary advisor (normally the eventual chair of his/her Dissertation Committee) and at least one other faculty member from the History of Art. It is read by the student’s Preliminary Examination Committee, which consists of the two faculty members who set the examination, and a third reader who also takes part in the oral follow-up exam. In fields where only one faculty member may be able to set the exam, it is still read by the two additional faculty on the committee.

The written Examination, taken on two consecutive days, consists of four areas of questioning: the general field (historically and geographically defined) from which the dissertation is drawn [Part I] and three more focused areas broadly relevant to the proposed dissertation topic [Part II]. Depending on the character of the dissertation and the needs of the student, the areas of questioning in Part II may focus on a particular medium or genre, a critical category or concept, a body of comparative material, or a related minor field. One area of questioning may be devoted to theoretical or methodological issues pertinent to the dissertation or to a topic in a cognate discipline of special importance to the student’s dissertation research. In preparing for Part I of the Exam, a student discusses the general field with his/her primary advisor, who is responsible for seeing that the student covers an appropriate range of material. Examples of general fields include “Islamic Art and Architecture Between the Seventh and the Thirteenth Centuries,” “Islamic and Christian Worlds in the Mediterranean Basin, Tenth to Thirteenth Centuries,” “Modern European Painting and Sculpture, 1848-1945,” “Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Art,” and “Arts of China in the Song Period, 960-1279.” As a general rule of thumb, a student should expect that studying for the general field portion of the preliminary exam will prepare him/her to teach undergraduate survey courses in that area. After discussing the general field with the primary advisor, the student then submits to the Preliminary Examination Committee a paragraph defining and delimiting the general field, prepares a bibliography of key texts, and identifies a corpus of works of art for which s/he will be responsible. In preparing for Part II of the Examination, a student composes a bibliography and proposes three questions for each of the three focus areas; these questions serve as the basis for the exam in each of the three focus areas.

Timing of the Preliminary Exam

In order to remain in good standing in the program, the student must pass the Preliminary Examination by the end of the winter term of his/her third year. Students who enter the program with a prior M.A. must pass the Preliminary Examination before the end of the winter term of their second year. The Preliminary Examination is taken during the last week of classes. The oral defense takes place by the end of the following week.

Examination Format

The Preliminary Examination consists of three parts. The written portion is taken on two successive days.

Part I: This section consists of written responses to questions posed in relation to slides, photographs or objects drawn from the general field of the student’s specialization. Students are given two hours to write the answers, either longhand or on a portable computer. Upon completion of the test, the student immediately submits the essays or disk to the Graduate Program Coordinator for distribution to the Committee.

Part II: The second part consists of three long essays on issues raised by the material in the designated areas. Typically these questions, developed from questions proposed by the student, are thematically oriented and directed toward matters of theory, criticism and interpretation, historiography and bibliography. Students are given two hours to write each of the three essays (selecting one questions from a choice of two in each case), either longhand or on a portable computer. Immediately upon completion of each test, the student submits the essay or disk to the Graduate Program Coordinator for distribution to the Committee.

Part III: The final component is an oral examination of one and one half hours taken within one week of the written portions of the Examination. The oral is administered by the entire committee of three examiners and serves as an opportunity to discuss issues not addressed, or insufficiently treated in the written Exam. This is also an occasion for beginning to discuss the student’s preparation of the dissertation prospectus.

A student must pass all parts of the preliminary examination. S/he will be asked to retake unsatisfactory portions of the Examination. Barring exceptional circumstances, students will not be allowed to resit the Exam more than once.

HISTART 990 - Dissertation/Precandidate
Schedule Listing
001 (IND)
032 (IND)
051 (IND)
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