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For more information about Folklore and Folklife,at UPenn, contact Professor Dan Ben-Amos at dbamos@sas.upenn.edu.

For assistance with the Folklore and Folklife website, contact Linda Lee at lindalee@sas.upenn.edu.
 

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The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination

To qualify to take the preliminary examination (Comps), a student must finish all course work, including the completion of all incompletes. Both language examinations must be passed before taking the oral comprehensive exams, but preferably as early as possible in coursework. After completion of course work, students begin preparation for the Ph.D. preliminary exams. Passing these exams will admit students to ABD (all but dissertation) status. Formal exam preparation should begin immediately upon completion of course work.

Format

Students will produce four written statements, divided into the general topics outlined below, and defined by students in consultation with faculty members to examine areas of academic specialization and professional preparation. Exam statements 1, 2, and 3 will consist of intellectual asessment through critical bibliographic essay and argument; statement 4 is a practical extension. Upon completion of these written field statements, and upon faculty approval, the student will schedule a date for the oral exam; this exam will provide the student an opportunity to deepen and expand the written statements in conversation with the faculty. (see below, Oral Exam).

The Four Areas of Examination

1) A geographic area statement: demonstrating the student's competence in the history and present state of folklore research (and related fields) of the student's intended area of specialization. Also possible is a focus on diasporas, especially since transcultural migrations are increasingly becoming a norm rather than an exception, and since folklorists have had an interest in these kinds of relocations. The paper will be tailored to suit the examinee's interests in conjunction with a faculty advisor, but there will be an emphasis on maintaining sufficient breadth.

2) A topical statement: demonstrating competence in the kinds of topical domains addressed in departmental course offerings, e.g. "prose narrative," "art," "gender," public display"; great flexibility and possibilities for combinations are foreseen here, e.g. 'ethnicity and music/song,' or 'gender and verbal art.' Broad intellectual coverage is expected with an effort to account for interdisciplinary as well as international scholarship.

3) A theory and practical statement: demonstrating expertise in the discipline's history, theoretical frameworks and problems. In conjunction with the faculty advisor, the examinee selects a meaningful segment from this domain. Examples might be "Enlightenment and the emergence of folklore," "postcolonial situations and the practice of folklore," ethnicity and race in folklore theory," "the legacy of literary approaches to folklore," etc.

4) A professional "script" in a domain of student's choice: demonstrating a student's ability to think through and plan an application of her/his knowledge, e.g.:

  • a course syllabus (including a commentary/rationalization of each aspect, reading selections, assignments, teaching format/pedagogy)
  • a museum exhibit plan/script (including commentary on artifact/visual selections, lay out, explanatory tablets/texts, and goals for potential audiences)
  • public program, e.g. a grant proposal for doing an 'ethnic apprenticeship program' within a state arts council (goals, specifics, logistics or organization using the actual format of a granting agency).

Administration of Exam

Students will be held to a strict schedule. A faculty advisor will ensure that the student adheres to the parameters of the exam.

Coordination and Guidance: Students will consult with their faculty advisor concerning the design of their exam, and which faculty or graduate group members should be approached to serve as readers. The advisor may be the faculty member initially assigned to the student upon entering the program, or another professor chosen by the student. It is advantageous to firm up a good working relationship with the faculty advisor by the end of the second year of course work.

Faculty outside the graduate group or outside the university should only be included as readers if they hold expertise crucial to the examinees proposed exam papers. The student then hammers out the nature of his or her qualifying statements with the chosen readers.

Nota bene: students must have at least three members of the standing faculty serving as either first or second readers of their exams. While faculty advisors may also serve as readers, at least three different individuals will serve on the students exam committee. After an initial year of study emphasizing breadth in coursework, subsequent course selections, research papers, internships, etc. should be increasingly geared toward competency in those areas in which the student hopes to be examined. The faculty advisor will present the students exam proposal to the faculty and the graduate chair for approval.

Contract

Once topics have been designed and readers chosen, students will sign an exam contract that will hold them accountable to finishing their exams within 6 months of completing their coursework. See the contract-draft that follows.

Time-Frame and Schedule

Students are expected to decide on exam statement topics during the last semester of coursework and to solidify contact with the faculty with whom they will work. Setting up meetings with potential readers is the examinees own responsibility, but faculty advisors will assist in suggesting potential readers and if necessary in initiating contact. Students finishing coursework in the spring term will adhere to Cycle 1; students finishing in the fall term will adhere to Cycle 2.

Time-line for Cycle 1

Students are urged to consult with their faculty readers at the end of the spring term and during the exam period of the spring semester, or to set up effective long-distance communication with faculty doing research over the summer.

June 1: Exam cycle begins; examinees finalize scope and titles of their four exam papers.
June 15: Contract with faculty reader signatures must be filed with graduate chair, one copy with Graduate Studies Advisor.
through August 31: Completing the bibliographic scope and outline of each paper in consultation with readers and faculty advisor.
September 15: Hand in outlines and bibliographies to faculty advisor.
*Last week of September: Faculty advisors present examinees' portfolios to full faculty meeting for approval.
December 1: All papers due; staggered deadlines for papers agreed on with the faculty advisor may prove most effective in getting the task done.
January: Oral exams.

Time-line for Cycle 2

Students are urged to consult with their faculty readers throughout the fall term and during the exam period of the fall semester.

January 15: Exam cycle begins; examinees finalize scope and titles of their four exam papers.
January 30: Contract with faculty reader signatures must be filed with graduate chair, one copy with Graduate Studies Advisor.
March 31: Completing the bibliographic scope and outline of each paper in consultation with readers and faculty advisor.
April 15: Hand in outlines and bibliographies to faculty advisor.
*Last week of spring term classes: Faculty advisors present examinees' portfolios to full faculty meeting for approval.
July 15: All papers due; staggered deadlines for papers agreed on with the faculty advisor may prove most effective in getting the task done. Students are responsible for making arrangements with faculty readers who are gone for the summer.
September: Oral exams

The Oral Exam

The oral exam will be scheduled once the written portions have been approved. A two-hour period will be set aside. The oral exam is semi-public in nature. The primary readers of the student's written exams must be present, but all faculty, including graduate group members wishing attend may be present. If the examinee has no objections, student colleagues may sit in, observe, and give moral support. Observing oral exams is considered good practice and students are encouraged to attend. The oral exam is essentially an elaboration of the student's written exams.

Sccessful Completion

Successful completion of the written and oral components will advance the student to Ph.D. candidacy.

Under normal circumstances, the student will consult closely with his or her committee in preparing bibliographies, draft and final copy of the four required exam papers. If one or more final versions are deemed unsatisfactory by the student's committee, the student will have a one-time chance for revision, to be submitted within six weeks of notification.

Some students elect to combine the Ph.D. oral exams with the defense of the dissertation proposal: this is often a useful decision, not least because all committee members are then likely in one room already (see Proposal below).

If the oral examination is deemed unsatisfactory, the student has one chance to be reevaluated on the basis of a written exercise, designed and approved by the committee as a whole, and completed within one month after the oral exam. If the student fails to comply, he or she will be dropped from the Ph.D. program.

Failure to adhere to the contract (regarding dates and topics) will be taken very seriously. Any change of dates need to be negotiated with all committee members, and only the most serious and documented circumstances will be considered sufficient cause for such changes. A renegotiation of dates will automatically result in close monitoring of the student's progress. Three months after the renegotiation of dates the student's full committee will vote on whether the examinee is making effective and timely progress toward the degree. A negative vote results in the termination of the student from the program.
Contract-Draft

Ph.D. Exam


Name:
Faculty Advisor:

1. Geographical area

    Title:
    Primary Reader:
    Secondary Reader:

2. Topical area
    Title:
    Primary Reader:
    Secondary Reader:

3. Theory and Practice Area
    Title:
    Primary Reader:
    Secondary Reader:

4. Professional Script
    Title:
    Primary Reader:
    Secondary Reader:

Deadlines:

Outline drafts with bibliographic scope:
Due Date:


Faculty Approval:
Date:


Final Papers:
Due Dates:

 
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