Critical Thesis Prep
The English department sees the thesis option for fulfilling the Senior Capstone Experience as a privilege. Therefore, it is vital that the student wishing to pursue this option demonstrate sufficient preparation though coursework, have a good working knowledge of the topic proposed, and show evidence of strong research and writing skills.
A student who chooses to write a thesis can use an essay written in a particular course as the foundation for further development into a thesis. A student electing to write a thesis must show initiative by conducting preliminary research to develop an appropriate topic. The completed thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to interpret literary texts and support the interpretation with secondary critical sources.
During the period of proposal formulation, a student should work in close contact with a member of the English Department. The English Department advises each student to begin consulting with this department faculty member during the junior year.
- A student should contact a member of the English Department who represents the field or literary period in which the student proposes to work to ask if that faculty member would be willing to serve as his or her thesis adviser.
- Each member of the English faculty has a limit of six Senior Capstone Experience students to advise, thus students who elect to pursue a thesis may not have their choice of advisers.
- After the student and adviser have agreed on a topic and approach, the student must complete a written proposal.
- Once completed, and approved by the individual faculty member who has agreed to direct the thesis, the proposal must be sent electronically to Professor Kathryn Moncrief, who will bring it to the entire department for its consideration.
Guidelines for Thesis Proposals
The proposal should be approximately 2 pages long (though it may be longer.) It should be narrative and free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. The more specific the proposal (including the argument) is, the more likely it is to be approved without problems.
The thesis proposal must detail the project carefully. It must include a description of the scope and range of the projected thesis, an explanation of the problem or problems to be investigated, and a description of what strategies will be used in the investigation. The proposal must also include a clearly articulated thesis statement and well-documented bibliography.
It must include the following specific elements:
- A description of the proposed project (what the argument will be).
- A description of what has already been done. (This should include a list of relevant coursework and other preparation. It should also indicate if the thesis is an expansion of a paper from a class.)
- A description of critical or theoretical problems the thesis will investigate and the questions to be explored.
- A chapter outline with brief details about what each chapter will cover. For example, an introduction to the problem, chapter descriptions (this number will vary), and a conclusion.
- A working bibliography, including books and articles likely to be used, that shows familiarity with the field of study.
- A writing sample. This should be a sample chapter, if available, or the essay, submitted for a course, upon which the thesis will be developed.