The senior departmental exam is an opportunity for you to reflect on your coursework and independent work in English. The exam, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, takes shape as a discussion between you, your thesis advisor, and your second thesis reader. During this time, you are asked to think carefully and critically about your journey through the major—relating particular texts or archives you have encountered in coursework to your thesis, for instance, situating your own research alongside current work in the relevant field, and/or offering examples of the kinds of theoretical or critical frameworks that help you make sense of the questions that continue to animate your curiosities. As you think back on your course of study you are also invited to think forward: to formulating new questions and problems you hope to explore, or to refining your own description of the English major and what it values. The exam is at once an exercise in critical acumen and an occasion for thoughtful reflection. Before the exam (by May 5th at noon), you will submit a reflection paper on your course of study in the English Department. This 1200-word reflection statement details your intellectual development, including (but not limited to) the relationship between coursework and independent work. This is an opportunity for you to consider what recurring themes have guided your choices over the last two years, what discoveries you have made, and what questions have stayed (and might yet stay) with you. The exam and the reflection paper together count for 10% of your departmental GPA (7.5% for the exam, 2.5% for the reflection paper).
To aid your examiners, you will also complete a form that includes:
- a list of your English courses, including approved cognates,
- your JP title, brief JP abstract (100 words), and the name of your JP advisor, and
- an account of any additional courses, fellowships, internships, or other experiences that are relevant to your work in English.
During the exam, you should be ready to discuss your coursework and career in English. All concentrators—those writing theses of all kinds, including in Creative Writing and Theater—will have the opportunity to discuss the significance of specific texts (novels, plays, poems, films, essays, works of theory, etc.), and to talk about the archives of critical and imaginative writing that inform their independent work. “Creative writing” inevitably involves research and reflection on the history and uses of literature, just as “research” inevitably involves attention to rhetoric, style, and audience. You should thus also prepare to discuss your thesis and how it stages an engagement with your work in the English Department.
Theses are due on April 18th 2023 at noon.
Reflection papers (1200 words) are due on May 5th 2023 at noon.
Senior Oral Exams will be held on May 10th and 11th 2023. (You will be assigned a 30-minute slot on one of these days. Please make a note in your calendars now to keep your schedule relatively open on these two days.)