Independent Work

The Junior Seminar and the Junior Paper

The junior seminar is an introduction to the methods of research and the arts of criticism, taken in the fall of junior year. Majors are placed in one of four or five seminars when they sign into the department as sophomores. The courses are topical (ranging from "Reading Bodies" to "Realism" to "Moby Dick"), but all of them involve intensive practice in the reading and writing of literary criticism.  Students begin researching and drafting the junior paper during the junior seminar, under the guidance of the seminar instructor. During spring semester they continue work on the paper, with their seminar instructor as JP advisor. The JP is 20-25 pages in length, and is due in April.

During the junior fall, students should plan a program of departmental courses for the next two years. The planned course work for the junior spring and senior year should be discussed with the junior seminar instructor, who signs the TigerHub sheet and acts as the junior adviser during the fall term.

Junior Paper (JP) Dropbox Folder

The Senior Thesis

For English majors, senior theses are 60-75 pages in length, on a topic chosen in collaboration with the thesis adviser and approved by the committee of departmental studies (CDS). Advisors are assigned in the spring of the junior year, and there are many options for support in the summer before senior year, including our program with the Bread Loaf School of English at Lincoln College, Oxford; the A. Scott Berg Fellowship for summer travel and research; and the Maren Grants for undergraduate research. A topic sheet is due in October, and 20 pages of the thesis (usually a chapter draft) are due in late November. Students should consult the department Guide to Independent Work to learn more about the process of and the options for senior theses. Models of successful theses can be found under Undergraduate Research

Students may elect to pursue the topic of the junior paper in the senior thesis. If they so choose, the JP may form the basis of one chapter of the thesis, but the expectation is that it will be substantially transformed in its new context.

Students considering theses in playwriting or in other genres within the English department must make a special application in the spring of junior year; for instructions, see the department's Playwriting Theses and Theses in Other Genres and Media page. Note that you do not need to submit an application in English to apply to write a thesis in the Program in Creative Writing. If your application to CWR is denied, contact the DUS in English; in such cases it is possible to revisit possibilities in the department even after the deadline has passed.

Senior Thesis Dropbox Folder