Rhetoric & Writing at BGSU
Preliminary Examination Process
The preliminary-examination process for the Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. Program has three parts: a written General Examination based on a required reading list, a Specialized Portfolio Examination, and an Oral Examination taken after successful completion of the first two components. The following highlights some information explained in more detail in the Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. Program Handbook.
General Preliminary Examination
This is a written examination based on the General Exam Reading List. Typically, students write on three or four questions (selected from a number of options) in the course of a weekend (Friday AM to Monday AM).
Specialized Portfolio Examination
The specialized element of the Preliminary Examination for Rhetoric & Writing PhD students is a portfolio developed by the student and evaluated by the student's Committee. The Specialized Portfolio consists of four sections:
A. Professional Revising Project. This section will include (1) the original of a R&W Program seminar paper; (2) one or more substantial revisions of that paper intended for conference delivery or for submission to a journal or book editor, and (3) an Afterword (1000-1500 words) that discusses and illustrates the nature of the revision--and the reasons for changes during revision. The final version should, ideally, reflect a present-tense vision of the project--within a few months of finishing the portfolio--rather than revision completed some time in the past--and it should represent the student’s strongest writing.
B. Professional Curriculum Project. This section will include the syllabus for a writing course (either taught or anticipated) and an Afterword (1000-1500 words) that discusses, in light of Core List readings and other sources, the principles that ground and shape the syllabus.
C. Initial Dissertation Reading List. With an eye toward future dissertation research, the student will work with the Committee Chair to develop an Initial Reading List of 30-40 works, not duplicating any works on the Core Prelim List. A version of this list will be reviewed by the whole Committee at the prelim planning meeting, and the final version will be approved by the Chair before work begins on the Bibliographic Essay.
D. Bibliographic Essay. Working with the approved Initial Reading List, the student will develop a bibliographic essay (2000-2500 words) showing understanding of individual works in the list, key relationships and differences among works, and important issues, questions, and needed research in the area of the future dissertation. The Essay need not deal with every item in the Initial Reading List, but should work with a substantial number of those works (e.g. 15-20 sources).
The Specialized Portfolio may be developed on paper or in a web environment. It will be developed by the student in close consultation with the Committee Chair. With this in mind, the student should discuss plans for the Portfolio with the Committee Chair before the prelim planning meeting and consult the Chair about broad approaches and strategies once work on the Portfolio begins.
The Specialized Portfolio will be evaluated individually by the members of the Committee and during the Orals component of the Preliminary Examination. The date for submitting the complete Portfolio will be decided on by the Committee in relation to the scheduling of Orals, which should take place within three weeks of the General Examination. (Usually, Portfolios are submitted before the weekend of the Core Exam or by the Friday following that weekend.)
Prelim Exam & Dissertation Committees
Before the end of the second year of course work, students should start planning toward Preliminary Examinations and deciding which member of the Core Rhetoric & Writing Faculty they want as their Prelim and Dissertation committee chair. Typically, one Core R&W Faculty member chairs both prelim and dissertation committees. In selecting a chair, students should consult with the Program Advisor and, after that, with the faculty member being considered. Core Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. Program faculty members must make up a majority of the committee, so a student's committee should look like this:
1. A Core Rhetoric & Writing Program Faculty member serving as Chair;
2. A second Core Rhetoric & Writing Faculty member;
3. A third Core Rhetoric & Writing Faculty member, or another English Department graduate faculty member with special expertise and connection to the student's specialization;
4. One "outside" faculty member appointed by the Graduate College.
Important Details and Dates
The Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. Program Handbook includes a great deal of information about the Preliminary Exam process--and many other things as well. This list just highlights a few important details.
1. Students need to complete a Tentative Degree Program (TDP) report for the Graduate College before establishing a Preliminary Exam Committee.
2. Students must complete the Language requirement before you can schedule your Exams.
3. Between the completion of course work and the completion of the preliminary Examinations, the appropriate form of graduate registration is ENG 798 (independent study in preparation for prelims--graded S/U). Because credit for this course is only allotted in 3 credit hour blocks, students may need to register for 798s with three or four different members of their committee.
4. A month or more before the General Exam, students will schedule a Committee meeting to discuss the nature and shape of the General Exam. Another and much earlier Committee meeting may be useful for discussing student plans for the Specialized Portfolio Examination.
5. The Oral Exam needs to be held within three weeks of the time you write the General Exam.
6. The previous point will influence when you submit your Specialized Portfolio Examination to the Committee. You should work closely with your Chair about this in order to assure that Committee members have ample time to read and evaluate your Portfolio.