Master's Examination - Italian Specialization

Students entering the program without an approved M.A. in Italian will take comprehensive written and oral qualifying exams at the end of the fourth semester of study. The qualifying examination is based on three lists of a combined minimum of forty entries that span the entire breadth of Italian cultural production and must be submitted for approval to members of the Qualifying Exam committee at least two months before the exam. When compiling the three lists, students should consult the comprehensive list (available from the graduate advisor in Italian) for entries on literature, film, and linguistics and students can substitute entries not on that list with the advisor’s approval. The number of entries will vary (at a minimum of forty) depending upon complexity and length. At least eighteen of the entries must be literary sources, broadly considered, at least five must be films or television programs, and at least two must be related to linguistics. Students are encouraged to include items from the visual arts (painting, architecture, sculpture, photography) and the performing arts (dance, music, opera, theater) as well. The list should be balanced in terms of coverage and genre and must be arranged into the following three categories:

  1. Italian Culture through the Ages. Fifteen or so entries covering the Duecento to the New Millennium, spread across at least seven centuries. In addition to literary entries, students are strongly encouraged to include at least one entry from each of the following areas: film, linguistics, performing arts, visual arts.
  2. Genre and/or Media. (e.g., the visual arts, the novel, tragedy, lyric, autobiography, linguistics, comedy, performing arts, the popular, philosophy). Fifteen or so entries covering the Duecento to the New Millennium, spread across at least seven centuries.
  3. A Critical Question and/or Theme in the history of Italian culture. (e.g., otherness, the environment, war, love, power, gender and sexuality, ideology/politics, class, migration). Fifteen or so entries covering the Duecento to the New Millennium, spread across at least seven centuries.

Written Examination

All students will write at least one section of the examination in Italian. The exam will have two main components: the first is composed of two proctored exams of three hours each covering on one day list #1 and on the other day list #2 without notes or books (a dictionary is permitted.) The second part is an open-book, take-home examination covering list #3 picked up at the Department on a Friday at 4:30 p.m. and returned to the Department by 9:00 a.m. the following Monday. The completed version of this part of the examination should be roughly 13-15 typed pages in length (Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced, one inch margins) accompanied by a list of works cited and consulted (not included in page count). In cases where a weekend proves inconvenient, the examination may be taken over any other comparable two- day period.

Written examinations must be done on computers. During the period between the written and oral examinations, students should re-read all sections and prepare to discuss and defend them during the oral examination.

Oral Examination

The Oral Examination will last between 60 and 90 minutes. Students must bring a copy of their written examinations to the Oral. During this final part of the examination, students will be examined on items on their readings lists and on the results of their written exams. All members of the Qualifying Examination Committee will be present during the entire oral portion. At the conclusion of the oral portion of the Qualifying Examination and in the absence of the student, Qualifying Examination Committee will determine if the student has satisfactorily passed the Qualifying Examination. In the case of a negative decision, the student will be allowed to take the exam only one more time.

Qualifying Examination Procedures

  1. The Graduate adviser chairs the Qualifying examination.
  2. The Graduate Advisor is responsible for soliciting and collecting the questions for the written examination from the other members of the examining committee. If necessary, the Advisor may solicit questions from area specialists other than those who sit on the examining committee.
  3. The examining committee is appointed by the Graduate adviser and normally consists of three to five faculty members. All members of the Qualifying Examination Committee will be present during the entire oral portion.
  4. The examining committee is fully responsible for evaluating and scoring the three written exams with a score of “fail,” “low pass,” “pass,” “high pass.” Scores on the three exams can both increase or decrease as a result of performance in the oral examination. Only the Qualifying Examination Committee members are to be present for the discussion of the student’s performance and the decision about the outcome. The student will be informed of the decision in the presence of the committee. All other regulations pertaining to the Qualifying degree will be those of the graduate school.
  5. Conduct of the written and oral examinations:
  • The first written part of the Qualifying examination (the two exams lasting three hours each) will be monitored.
  • For the first written part of the Qualifying examination, no pre-written materials (books, notes, class handouts, study guides, etc.) or internet use will be allowed. Students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic conduct. All suspected cases of misconduct will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct as required by University rules.
  • Dictionaries will be allowed during the first written part of the Qualifying examination.
  • For the second (take-home) part of the Qualifying examination, students may consult pre-written materials (books, notes, class handouts, the internet.) Students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic conduct. All suspected cases of misconduct will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct as required by University rules.
  • The oral examination will take place no longer than two weeks after the written examination.
  • The oral examination will be 60 to 90 minutes long. It will not be restricted to the material treated in the written part of the examination and may cover any topics on the Reading List.
  •  At least one part of the oral examination will be conducted in Italian and at least one part in English.

6. The three possible outcomes of the Qualifying Examination are: 1) the granting of an M.A. and an invitation to continue on to the Ph.D.; 2) the granting of a terminal M.A. to those students whose qualifying exams, oral exam, and/or overall performance in the program are deemed adequate but not of a quality sufficient to continue on to the Ph.D.; and 3) the dismissal from the program of those students whose performance on the written and/or oral component of the qualifying exam, and/or general academic performance to that point are considered inadequate to earn the M.A.

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