The Ph.D. (RLL)

Ph. D. Degree in Romance Languages and Literatures with Emphasis in Spanish (RLL)

Website address for RLL

This degree program should not be confused with the Hispanic Languages and Literatures (HLL) Ph.D. program. Students should not apply to this program unless they are committed to extensive training in French and Italian in addition to Spanish or Portuguese as part of their degree. Students should become thoroughly acquainted with both degree programs (HLL and RLL) and determine which program best reflects their objectives. Any questions concerning the two degree programs should be directed to the staff Graduate Adviser before applying.

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The Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL) is a doctorate in three Romance languages and literatures taught in the Departments of French, Italian Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese, prepared with emphasis in one of the three. Students may opt for either a literature track or a linguistic track

The mission of the RLL program is:

• To take a multilingual approach to language and literature.
• To combine literary and linguistic study.
• To offer flexibility in the design of students’ programs: the unity of a common heritage and common evolution of the Romance family allows diversity in topics and approaches.
• To train Romance scholars of linguistics, literature and culture who can take jobs in Romance language departments, single language departments, or linguistics departments.

Overview of Course of Study:

Students present a combination of courses and personal study to satisfy the requirements of the particular track to which they have been admitted. Although there are some explicit requirements (see below), there is no minimum number of courses required to sit for the Qualifying Examination. Instead, each student’s precise course of study is developed in close consultation with the RLL Graduate Advisor for Spanish & Portuguese.

In the Literature track, students will gain a detailed knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese literature.They will also develop sufficient familiarity with Italian and French literature so as to allow them to do the focused comparative work necessary for the preparation of the Qualifying Examination. Moreover, students will develop both historical and practical expertise in both Latin and in two Romance languages other than Spanish or Portuguese.

In the Linguistics track, students will gain in-depth knowledge of the structure and history (internal and external) of Spanish or Portuguese. They will also develop expertise in the linguistics of two other Romance languages and specialize in an area of general or applied linguistics. This, together with some basic training in Latin, will prepare them for the comparative Romance linguistic work that is required for the Qualifying Examination.

Requirement for Admission, emphasis Spanish or Portuguese:

Literature track: B.A. degree or equivalent with studies in Spanish or Portuguese approximately corresponding to the undergraduate major at Berkeley. In addition, we expect of applicants to the Literature track either a) advanced competency in two of the languages the applicant intends to study in the RLL doctoral program, or b) advanced competency in one such language and reasonable preparation in two others. By reasonable preparation we mean either one year’s study of Latin or two years’ study of a modern language. By advanced competency we mean ability to participate fully in a graduate seminar conducted in the modern language in question. Writing samples will be requested of languages in which advanced competency is claimed, and a telephone interview may also be required. Transcripts will provide evidence of reasonable preparation.

Linguistics track: B.A. degree or equivalent with studies in Spanish or Portuguese or Linguistics approximately corresponding to the undergraduate major at Berkeley. In addition, we expect of applicants to the Linguistics track either a) advanced competency in Spanish or Portuguese and in linguistics or b) advanced competency in Spanish or Portuguese, reasonable preparation in linguistics and in one other Romance language. Note that for the purposes of admission to the linguistics track, this other Romance language may be Italian or French, or it may come from the broader Romance family (e.g., Catalan, Sardinian, Rumanian, Latin etc.). By advanced competency in linguistics we mean ability to participate fully in a graduate seminar in the linguistics department. By reasonable preparation we mean either one year’s study of Latin or linguistics, or two years’ study of a modern Romance language. Writing samples will be requested of areas in which advanced competency is claimed, and a telephone interview may also be required. Transcripts will provide evidence of reasonable preparation.

General Requirements and Study Program (both tracks):

1.  Screening Interview. Early in their first semester of enrollment, the RLL Executive Committee will meet with students to evaluate their previous preparation, to familiarize them with the program, and to determine an appropriate plan of study for completion of the degree requirements during the first two years. The Committee will then prepare a brief record of the interview for delivery to the RLL Graduate Advisor for Spanish or Portuguese, indicating any special provisions or studies that must be completed before the student’s admission to the Qualifying Examination.

2.  Advanced Language Competency Timetable. Because of the nature of the RLL program, students are required to achieve language competency above and beyond that attested by passing the standard Graduate Division language requirements (see section 3, below). The following timetables will assure that students will be able to do advanced work in the three RLL departments.

Literature track:
• By the end of semester 5 the student will have finished 1 year of Latin and will have the necessary competency to participate fully in graduate seminars taught in a target language of two of the participating departments. The student will have made substantial progress towards acquiring a modern Romance language associated with the third participating department. This will be established by the 5th semester review (see section 5 below).

• By the end of semester 7, the student will either have taken two upper division undergraduate courses in that third language, or will have taken a graduate seminar covering literature that the student reads in the original language (although the seminar does not need to be taught in the language in question.)

Linguistics track:
• By the end of semester 5 the student will have finished 1 year of Latin and will have the necessary competency to participate fully in graduate seminars taught in the target language of one of the participating departments and in linguistics. In addition, the student will have made good progress in another Romance language and begun study of a third. Again, these can be any member of the wider family of Romance languages including for example Occitan, Sardinian and Neo-Latin. By good progress we mean good reading knowledge and this is to be established at the 5th semester review (see section 5 below).

• By semester 7, the student will have acquired sufficient knowledge of the second Romance language in order to use it for graduate-level linguistic analysis. This may be done as part of a graduate seminar in a language department, as an independent study with a faculty member, or by making significant use of the language in a linguistics seminar. (Please note that analyzing the language in the RLL C201/202 seminar will not be considered sufficient.) The student will also have attained good reading knowledge in the third Romance language by this point, that is, sufficient for graduate-level linguistic analysis by the time of the qualifying exam.

3.  Foreign Language Requirements. The Graduate Division requires that foreign language skills be demonstrated in one of two ways. (RLL students may choose which of their languages they would like to use for the completion of this requirement). The requirements should be satisfied as early as possible in the student’s doctoral career, following first registration, and must be completed prior to the term proposed for the Qualifying Examination.

Option I requires students to demonstrate reading knowledge of two languages. This can be done be either passing a translation exam in both languages or passing a translation exam in one language and completing coursework in the second language.  Option I translation exams consist of at least a 300-word passage translated into English with the use of a dictionary. Students who choose to demonstrate reading knowledge of their second language through coursework may either (a) complete a four-semester (or six-quarter) course sequence with an average grade of B or better or (b) complete (with a grade of B or better) an upper division foreign language course that requires a four-semester (or six-quarter) course sequence as a prerequisite.

Option II requires students to demonstrate an exceptionally thorough reading knowledge and an adequate knowledge of the grammatical structure of one language. Students can demonstrate such knowledge in one of two ways: (1) By passing a translation exam in which the student translates a passage of about 1,000 words into English without the use of a dictionary; (2) By earning a B or better in two upper-division foreign language courses in which the material is read in the original language.

4.  Core courses. All RLL students must pass, with a grade of B or better, two core courses:

  • Linguistic History of Romance Languages (RLL C201/202).
  • Comparative Studies in Romance Literatures and Cultures (RLL C203).

Students should satisfy these requirements as early as possible in their doctoral career, bearing in mind that they are unlikely to be offered every year.

5.  Progress Review. Early in the fifth semester, the Executive Committee will evaluate the student’s progress and advise him/her regarding future courses, preparation for the Qualifying Exam, and possible composition of the Qualifying Exam Committee. Students will prepare the following for the progress review meeting:

  • a) A three-page self-review of the first two years (courses taken, requirements completed, papers written, new areas explored, etc.)
  • b) A statement of developing research interests.
  • c) A major research paper, preferably written in English.

6.  Qualifying Examination Fields, Topics, and Reading Lists. Following the 5th semester review, students should start meeting with the anticipated members of the Qualifying Examination Committee in order to define the fields and topics they wish to cover on their Exam. In the course of these meetings, students will develop field and topic statements and reading lists, which must be submitted to the Executive Committee no later than the twelfth week of the sixth semester.

7.  Qualifying Examination. When the student and his/her advisor agree that preparation is sufficient for the Qualifying Examination, the advisor and the Graduate Student Services Advisor of the department concerned, with suggestions from the student, will determine the Qualifying Examination Committee and inform the Chair of the RLL Executive Committee of its formation.

The Qualifying Examination committee is composed of five members: three representing the main field of focus, a designated “outside” member representing a Romance language besides Spanish or Portuguese (and who may also be a member of the Romance Languages and Literature program), and one other member appropriate to the topics on the exam. All five members of the Qualifying Examination committee must be present and voting at the oral examination. All members of the committee, including the chair and “outside” member (the person who represents the Graduate Dean and Graduate Council) must be Academic Senate members.

The Qualifying Examination has a written and an oral component. The written section, normally administered in the tenth week of the eighth semester, consists of three 8-hour exams.

Literature track: One exam will cover a major field in Romance Literatures and involve at least two languages. (Examples might be: the development of the novel; the lyric tradition; literary modernism; etc.) The other two exams should be on topics individually formulated by each student. The combined reading lists for these two topics should cover all three languages in the student’s program. This structure leaves open the possibility that one topic might be focused on a single literature. (Examples of topics might be the work of a single major author; literary relations between France and Latin America in the twentieth century; immigrant literature; baroque theater.) Historical coverage is highly recommended.

Linguistics track: One exam will cover a major field in Romance Linguistics and involve three languages. (Examples might be word order in Romance, sound change in Romance, or the classification of the Romance languages). A second exam will cover an area in general linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics), applied linguistics (second language acquisition, the application of linguistics to literature, translation studies), or an appropriate topic in Romance philology. A third exam will cover a specialized topic involving one, two, or three languages (e.g., borrowing from Latin into Spanish or Portuguese in the late Middle Ages, the tu and vous address forms in contemporary Spanish or Portuguese, regional variation in contemporary Italian). The three examination fields and topics should fit together coherently, will display emphasis on Spanish or Portuguese, and will very preferably contain a historical component.

8.  Dissertation. Once the Qualifying Examination is successfully completed, the student will arrange with a faculty member to direct the dissertation and, by consultation with him/her, propose the remaining members. The Chair and designated “outside” member (representing a Romance language other than Spanish or Portuguese) must be members of the Academic Senate. The dissertation will embody the results of original research on a subject chosen in consultation with the director. The Chair of the Qualifying Examination Committee cannot direct the dissertation.

After obtaining the dissertation director’s approval of the proposed topic, the student completes the “Application for Advancement to Candidacy for the Ph.D.,” available in the Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Office, for approval by the Graduate Division on behalf of the Graduate Council. Doctoral students should bear in mind that it is to their advantage to be “Advanced to Candidacy” as soon as possible following completion of the Qualifying Examination (see Normal Progress Schedule).

Prospectus: Students are required to complete a fifteen- to twenty-page dissertation prospectus (including bibliography), to be presented to the student’s dissertation committee no later than three months after the Qualifying Exam.

Should the need for a change in membership of the committee arise, students should speak both with their dissertation director and the Head Graduate Advisor in their Department. To effect a change, a form entitled “Request for Change in Higher Degree Committee” must be completed and signed by the Head Graduate Advisor (after having informed all parties involved in the change). This form is then submitted to the Graduate Division for review and approval.

9. Dissertations in a Language other than English. Special approval from the Graduate Division, acting for the Graduate Council, is required to submit a dissertation in a language other than English. If approval is given, an abstract in English must be included with the finished work.

10.  Academic Progress (both tracks). The timetable for completion of degree requirements is as follows: By the end of the sixth semester, students will have submitted field and topic statements and reading lists for Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations. Over the course of the next two semesters, students prepare for and take the Qualifying Examinations and apply for advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. (Note as well that all languages requirements must be fulfilled before the beginning of the semester in which the Qualifying Examinations are taken.) Doctoral candidacy lasts for two years after advancement, although students are eligible for an additional two year grace period before candidacy lapses (see Length of Time in Advanced-to-Candidacy Status).

“Normative Time” (NT) allowance for the program is set at six (6) years. The Normative time to Advancement to Candidacy is 4 years (time to Q-E).

* Please Note: Foreign ABD students have a maximum of three-years (after passing Q-E) of waived Non-Resident Tuition (NRT) to file the dissertation. Any delay in filing will be at the student expense.

Suggested Progress Schedule:

SEMESTER REQUIREMENT COMPLETED
1 Screening Interview.
2 One language requirement completed by the end of the second term.
3 A second language requirement completed by the end of the third term.
4 The third language requirement completed by the end of the fourth term.
5 One year of Latin completed.  5th semester Progress Review.
6 Core courses completed.  Preliminary Q-E reading list and field statements due by 12th week of the semester.
7
8 Qualifying examination.  Advancement to Candidacy.
9 Prospectus.
10
11
12 Filing of finished dissertation by the end of the 12th term.