Graduate – Current – Prospectus Guidelines
Dissertation Prospectus Guidelines
Your prospectus must be a substantially researched overview of the proposed dissertation and its length established in consultation with your doctoral committee. The suggested length of a prospectus is 4,000 to 5,000 words – and no more than 9,000 words – plus a bibliography of relevant works, including ones you may not have already read. You begin by setting out in a few pages the central question/problem and the basic argument of your dissertation both in terms of the timeframe and texts you have chosen, as well as the critical and theoretical conversations to which you are contributing. Your prospectus should also include a brief account of the debates that shape the critical landscape of your project. This is not a meant to be a comprehensive review of the criticism, but an attempt to identify the productive conversations in your field and to realize your own voice within them. This exercise is also a way to think carefully about citational practice and precedent. The prospectus should end with chapter summaries consisting of the main argument of each chapter and the primary text or texts that will be its focus. The attached bibliography, which you can organize in consultation with your chair, should list both primary and secondary sources. Think of your prospectus as a road map for writing your dissertation, but one that is not written in stone; changes always occur in the process of writing.