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Graduate Dissertation Defense

English Department Dissertation Defense

The Dissertation Defense aims to accomplish two goals. First, it will provide an occasion for the presentation and recognition of completed doctoral work. Second, it will furnish the opportunity for discussion and formal evaluation of the dissertation. 

The timing of the defense will be set by the student, in consultation with her Dissertation Committee, at a date at least a month before the deadline for submission of the complete dissertation to SAS.  The chair of the committee, in consultation with the other members, must certify to the Graduate Chair in writing that the dissertation will be ready for the defense. 

The defense will be chaired by the Chair of the Dissertation Committee and the two other members will be in attendance. When necessary, the Graduate Chair may approve a committee member's participation by conference call or input by email, with a different member of the faculty serving as a proxy at the defense.

The defense consists of two parts. Part One (45 minutes) will be open to all faculty and students within the Graduate Group of English. Broader public attendance will be left to the discretion of the student in consultation with her committee. This part will consist of a 15 minute presentation by the student on the main aspects of the argument and the research reported in the dissertation, followed by questions and comments during a discussion period of half an hour. The chair of the dissertation committee acts as moderator and has the discretion to decide whether questions are germane to the topic of the dissertation.

 Part Two consists of a private discussion between the student and committee members (45 minutes). This conversation offers the opportunity for further questions and more detailed discussion, candid evaluation, recommendations for revision, and suggestions for future plans for publication.
Immediately after the conversation, the committee will confer privately to decide whether or not to ask for specific revisions before final submission.  If revisions are deemed necessary, the committee chair will be responsible for evaluating the revisions and approving the dissertation in its final form.  

Dissertation Defenses may be held at any time during the academic year. In consultation with her committee, the student may petition the graduate chair to schedule the defense in June or July.