This spring-term seminar is intended to give you the time and tools to produce your thesis, the capstone project of the English honors program. The honors thesis, according to departmental guidelines, is a research essay, usually 20-30 pages in length, on a topic of your choice in English studies. It should aspire to the level of a graduate term paper, which means it should have:
- A fully developed, original, and significant thesis statement;
- Argumentation grounded in textual evidence and attentive close reading;
- An appropriate degree of engagement with current scholarship;
- An appropriate degree of theoretical sophistication;
- Effective, logical, purposeful organization;
- Clear, mature, engaging prose that is largely free of errors; and
- Full and correct documentation of sources in MLA or Chicago style.
In ten weeks, we’ll walk through the process of researching and writing your thesis starting with a brainstorming session, then moving through a series of benchmarks: a one-line concept, an annotated bibliography, an abstract, an outline, a draft introduction, a partial draft, and a full draft, all of which you’ll turn in. Tuesdays (except in weeks seven and nine) we’ll spend as a group workshopping your ideas and writings-in-progress; Thursdays I’ve set aside for independent research and individual meetings with me. Evaluation at the end of the term will be based on three components of approximately equal weight: (1) your presence and active participation in our Tuesday workshops, including your critical and generous engagement with your peers’ work, (2) your meeting the writing benchmarks on time and with proficient or steadily improving work, and (3) the final product: your thesis.