The Ph.D. Dissertation
Before beginning work on the dissertation, all Ph.D. candidates must familiarize themselves with the Graduate School rules regarding the period of time allowed for completion, format and presentation, deadlines for depositing, etc. See the Graduate School publication A Guide to Preparing Your Doctoral Dissertation, available on line and in print.
Dissertation Topic and Dissertation Director
Upon completing the requirements for the M.A., prospective candidates for the doctorate should begin to read intensively in their field of interest and to consider topics for the dissertation. They may ask any UW-Madison professor of Italian to act as dissertation director.
The Dissertation Proposal
After admission to Ph.D. candidacy, the studentâ€™s first official step in the dissertation process is presentation of the dissertation proposal before the dissertation committee. This is normally done in the semester immediately subsequent to completing the preliminary examinations successfully. The presentation and the ensuing discussion are the candidateâ€™s opportunity to lay out initial findings and a plan for research and analysis before a panel of experienced scholars, and to receive their insight and advice regarding the project.
The Proposal. The proposal is a clear and concise document of normally from ten to fifteen double-spaced pages, accompanied by a bibliography of works that form the basis of the study. It must contain sufficient information for the committee to be able to evaluate the interest of the topic as a contribution to scholarship, and to gauge the candidateâ€™s capacity to carry out the necessary research and writing in a reasonable amount of time.
While there is no set format, the proposal will normally include a review of previous scholarship on the question at hand, commentary on the strengths and shortcomings of that work, a research plan, and a statement of the ways in which the proposed study promises to be an original and valuable contribution to scholarship. Given that different fields and different approaches call for different procedures in research and interpretation, methodology must be made clear in the proposal.
The proposal must be delivered to the members of the dissertation committee no less than two weeks before the presentation.
Presentation of the Proposal. With the dissertation director as moderator, the student will present the proposal formally before the dissertation committee. The student should not read a text, but, with notes and/or accompanied by a handout if desired, summarize the contents of the proposal, with any further commentary deemed necessary. The Dissertation Director informs the Graduate Coordinator once the proposal is approved by the committee, and record of approval is kept in the studentâ€™s file.
The Defense Version of the Dissertation
The defense version must be a completed dissertation, intended as the final version. The committee is charged with evaluating the dissertation before them, and that they have had opportunity to examine with care. Thus the dissertation must be delivered in completed form to the members of the committee in a timely manner as indicated below. In content and format, they should receive what is intended as the final version to be deposited with the Graduate School.
Four weeks before defense: deliver to committee, deposit in Department, file Ph.D. Final Oral Committee Approval Form. The final version of the dissertation must be delivered to the members of the dissertation committee no later than four weeks before the defense. At the same time, the final version must be deposited in the department office for public consultation. The Ph.D. Final Oral Committee Approval Form, available from the Graduate Coordinator, must be filed at this point.
Two weeks before defense: public announcement. The defense is public. The time and place of the defense must be announced in the Department â€“ and elsewhere as the candidate and director deem appropriate â€“ no later than two weeks before the defense date.
The Oral Dissertation Defense
In addition to the director, at least two other qualified faculty members will read the dissertation. Upon its completion, the candidate will defend the dissertation before a committee consisting of the three readers and two other faculty members. One member of the committee must represent an area outside the fields of Italian literature, linguistics/philology, and film, preferably as the representative of the minor area.
Normally, candidates offer a brief (10-15 minutes) summary of the dissertation, focused primarily on the original contribution of the work. Handouts may be used if necessary. Following the candidateâ€™s opening statement, the director will coordinate the committeeâ€™s questioning and discussion.
Depositing the Dissertation
After passing the oral defense, students must contact the Graduate School to arrange an appointment for final review of the dissertation. Those who defend near the degree deadline should call immediately after the defense, as appointment times fill rapidly during the weeks before any deadline. Since no changes are allowed once the dissertation is approved by the Graduate School, all revisions and corrections must be completed before the final review.