Culture/Literature Track

A minimum of 60 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required for the Doctor of Philosophy of which a maximum of 30 can be transferred from another institution. For the courses and seminars to count towards the Ph.D. students must obtain a grade of B or higher.

Required Courses

All students in the Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures program must take the following courses:

  • Hispanic Critical and Cultural Theory
  • Spanish as a Historical Problem

All students must follow a course of study approved by the Executive Officer.

First Examination

Before completing 45 credits, students will be required to take a written exam.

The purpose of the First Examination is to perform a literary critical reading of a set of 24 particular texts. In preparation for the First Examination, it is expected that students will develop their ability to use basic knowledge of critical and theoretical concepts in the analysis of literary texts from different periods in the fields of Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures. It is also expected that students will acquire a general knowledge of literary history in these fields and engage critically with bibliographies on the works selected for the examination. 

Students will be able to:

  1. produce analyses and connections between selected works from different discursive genres, media, and historical periods;
  2. consolidate their knowledge of theoretical paradigms related to the selected areas of interest.

Students will be examined in the four critical areas determined in advance by the Examination Committee. Each critical area will comprise six works (fictional, non-fictional, visual) selected by the Examination Committee. The 24-chosen works will represent different historical periods of the Latin American, Iberian and Latino cultures.

The four critical areas and their respective lists of works will remain in place for a three-year cycle, after which the Examination Committee must revise them for another three years.

The 24 works selected by the Examination Committee will be made available no later than six months before the date set for the examination.

The critical areas for the 2018-2021 cycle are:

  • Memory and Human Rights
  • Performance and Subjectivity
  • Empire and Coloniality
  • State and Nation

Students will be examined in these four critical areas over two different weekdays. Typically, the first exam will be scheduled one week before the beginning of the Fall semester.
Students will be given one question for each critical area (four questions in total), and they must answer all of them. 

For the complete reading list click here.

Second Examination

After completing a minimum of 60 credits and fulfilling the reading proficiency tests in languages other than English and Spanish, students must take a second written exam. No students with Incomplete and/or less than a B average will be permitted to take the Second Examination.
Each student’s Examination Committee will consist of three faculty members appointed by the Executive Officer in consultation with the student. Final approval of the areas selected and reading lists will rest with the Chair of the Examination Committee.

The Second Examination is designed to evaluate the students’ general knowledge of Hispanic or Luso-Brazilian cultural and literary traditions as well as their capacity for critical thinking. The exam is based on a reading list for each of two areas. In preparation for the Second Examination students must develop a solid grounding in all periods of the Hispanic or Luso-Brazilian literatures from the Middle Ages to the present. 

Students will be able to:

  1. Determine an area of research interest;
  2. Develop a thorough knowledge of primary and secondary sources related to the chosen area of research;
  3. Identify unexplored topics and perspectives of scholarly interest; and
  4. Define theoretical and conceptual frameworks appropriate for future investigation in the field of specialization.

Students must bear in mind that their answers for the on-site questions must demonstrate specialized knowledge of the area being tested, and a clear command of the content and structure of the primary texts, as well as their historical, literary, and critical contexts. Answers must also show that the student is able to produce logical analyses of the texts and to relate their analyses to a coherent theoretical framework.

The examination will revolve around four areas:

  1. General Area: This will be selected from one of the following areas:
  2. Elective Area: This will include a list of 25 primary works reflecting the students’ research and specialization interests. The specific purpose of the list is to contextualize and/or complement historically and thematically the list of works included in the Concentration Area. The list will be prepared by the student in consultation with the Examination Committee.
  3. Concentration Area: This will include a list of primary works addressing the student’s intended specialization in the field. The list must be preceded by a one-paragraph rationale explaining the criteria used in the selection of texts. The examination will be based on a list of at least 25 works to be selected by the student in consultation with Chair of the Examination Committee. There can be no overlap between the titles included in the General and Elective Area lists and those included in the Concentration Area list.
  4. Critical/Theoretical Area: This will include at least 25 critical and theoretical texts to be selected by the student in consultation with the Chair of the Examination Committee.

The second examination will consist of three testing components:

  1. An on-site exam taken at The Graduate Center and based on the General and Elective Areas lists.
  2. A scholarly essay based on the reading lists for the Concentration and Critical/Theoretical Areas. The essay must demonstrate that the student is capable of identifying a research topic, presenting a theoretically informed argument, and discussing relevant critical literature. The essay will have length of approximately 3500 words, excluding cited works. The essay must follow the latest edition of the MLA handbook.
  3. A syllabus for an undergraduate bridge or major culture course. The syllabus will contain a rationale for the course’s content and goals, a primary reading list, a calendar, and evaluation criteria. The syllabus will be sent to the Examination Committee by the end of the semester preceding the exam date (May or December). Students will also have an option to present an alternative project addressing a non-pedagogical topic, which will be defined in consultation with the Examination Committee and approved by the Curriculum Committee.

Students will be advanced to candidacy after passing the second exam.

Three students smiling in class

LAILAC Student Handbook

Review our program handbook on the latest policies and requirements for students in the Ph.D. Program in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures