Preparation for the qualifying examination consists of a combination of course work and supplementary individual readings. While the dissertation will demonstrate the student’s capacities as a research scholar, the examination tests a student’s preparation to undertake research and powers of conceptual breadth and ingenuity. It is the culmination of course work – an opportunity to show and interrogate what has been learned and where a student is headed.
The qualifying examination in Religion and Modernity is taken after the conclusion of required course work and must be completed before admission to candidacy. Ordinarily, students take their exam at the end of their third year of residence.
The exam consists of both a written and an oral component.
The written component consists of questions in the three areas the student has developed in the bibliographies. These three areas will be variations on the clusters denoted by the history of thought (philosophy, theology, art, politics, theory), religion and modernity as social forms, including questions of race, secularism, gender, postcolonialism, class, and the work of history, with a focus on the historiography of a particular theme or context, and including questions of method and perspective. This written component is executed at home over a two-week period.
The written component forms the focus of the two-hour oral exam, to be held with the exam committee one to two weeks after submission.