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Art History Language Exam Protocol

Students should select the relevant language or languages appropriate for their field of study in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and their adviser(s). Students are required to pass departmental reading competency examinations in the relevant language(s) unless they have successfully completed coursework in the language(s) as detailed in the Division of Art History MA and PhD Requirements documents. As detailed in these documents, students will ordinarily be expected to pass all relevant language examinations by the end of the first quarter (MA) or year (PhD) of graduate study. Exemption from language examinations for students who are first-language or bilingual speakers of the relevant language(s) will be considered on an individual basis.

Language examinations are ordinarily offered twice a year (fall and spring), and students should plan accordingly. In exceptional cases students may petition to take an examination at another time. The examination will normally be supervised and graded by faculty in the relevant research area or faculty with particular expertise in the language in question. The format of the examination can be somewhat flexible, but would ordinarily be framed as follows:

The exam should last for one hour, and will be pass/fail. The student should be given a section of an art historical text of moderate difficulty to translate, ordinarily of a length of between one to two book or journal pages, depending on the apparent number of words per page. The goal is to have a text that can be largely translated within the hour if a student can work at moderate speed. The text should be selected by the professor administering the exam, in consultation with the student's advisor if advisor and examiner are different individuals. Students may use a computer as a word processor; if they do so, however, they should work with internet connections disabled. Students will be allowed to consult a paper dictionary, but not online translation resources. Students will not have to complete a translation of the entire text to pass the exam, though both accuracy and speed will be taken into consideration in evaluating their work. If students cannot finish translating the entire text in the time available, they should plan to read the remainder of the text and write a brief summary of their understanding of its principal contentions.

If a student fails the examination (a failing grade should be reserved principally for serious misunderstandings of the text or an inability to translate effectively), s/he will be allowed to retake the exam with a different text. Timing of the retake must be negotiated between the student, the examiner, the student’s advisor(s), and the DGS. The student may continue to be eligible for TAships in the interim if s/he is making good progress in other aspects of the program and the DGS, advisor(s), and other members of the faculty feel this would not hinder his/her language study. However, students who have successfully completed their language exams may be given priority for TAships. Students must pass relevant language exams to complete their degree. PhD students must complete language exams satisfactorily before proceeding to the general examination.

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