English Honors Theses

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Types of English Honors Theses 
Choosing a Project and Director 
Thesis Workshops 
Thesis Submission and Evaluation

Types of English Honors Theses

Literary or Cultural Studies Thesis
A literary or cultural studies thesis must include a 30-40 page focused essay, a comprehensive written bibliography, and a 4-5 page written overview. The essay must demonstrate a grasp of relevant creative and critical perspectives in its field, moving beyond mere summary of what others have said to make an original contribution to critical thought on the student's chosen topic. In the overview, the student reflects on the research agenda, general rationale, and intellectual moorings of the project from beginning to end.

Electronic or Multimedia Thesis
A student who wishes to produce this kind of thesis (hypertext, CD-ROM, web site, video or audio documentary, etc.) must create an intrinsically electronic or multimedia project. The thesis must be one that could not possibly be produced in the conventional manner; in other words, its electronic nature must be essential to its theme or subject matter.

The thesis must be accompanied by an annotated bibliography and a 15-20 page written overview. The bibliography should contain sources of some historical breadth, demonstrating mastery of relevant critical perspectives and arguments in the field. The overview should supplement the thesis by analyzing the critical context. This analysis should not attempt a point-by-point translation of the thesis into discursive form, but should instead engage in a critical dialogue with contemporary works, both theoretical and creative, on the student's subject and method.

English Education Thesis
A thesis in English education must be written under the supervision of a member of the English education faculty. The project must be 30-40 pages and integrate the student's studies in English and education and demonstrate mastery of relevant theoretic perspectives and arguments in the field of English education. It should also include a comprehensive bibliography, and a 4-5 page written overview.

Creative Writing Thesis
Students who wish to produce a creative thesis in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction writing must be in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Track and have the approval of the Honors Director and a faculty member of the Writers' Workshop or Nonfiction Writing Program.

A thesis in creative writing should consist of three parts: a creative piece of 25-60 pages; an annotated reading list of 12-15 works; and a reflective essay of 8-10 pages examining an issue of craft, subject or genre.

Interdisciplinary Thesis for Double Honors
In order for a thesis to satisfy the honors requirements of English and another department, the student must gain approval from and work with two directors, one in each department. A double honors thesis must be interdisciplinary in nature. The thesis must show a command of each discipline in a comprehensive research bibliography and represent a comparable expenditure of intellectual work as two honors theses in terms of research and scope. Finally, the thesis must be supplemented by an 8-10 page written overview in which the student reflects on the research agenda, general rationale, and interdisciplinarity of the project from beginning to end.

Choosing a Project and Director

Students who wish to graduate with honors should have a deep interest in a specific area of literary and cultural studies, writing, multimedia, or English education. This interest can often grow out of a particular course or independent exploration and study.

"I chose something I was willing to live with for a year, something that was, first and foremost, important to me. Only then did I worry about how that topic might fit into a larger academic conversation." —Nate Kreuter, 2002 English Honors Graduate

Students often choose past instructors who are knowledgeable in the student’s chosen field of study as their thesis directors, but faculty sometimes advise students with whom they have not previously worked. It is also perfectly appropriate to approach faculty with whom the student has already studied, even if the topic is not related directly to the faculty's own area of expertise. Before committing to direct, most faculty, particularly faculty unfamiliar with a student’s work, will require students to demonstrate their knowledge of the field they wish to study. Some may request a written prospectus.

As students begin to consider options, they are encouraged to discuss the process with the EHP Director and peruse the bound copies of completed theses in the Honors Lounge, 305 EPB.

"Get an advisor you are comfortable with and take all of their suggestions and run with them." —Amy Hildreth, 2006 English Honors Graduate

Thesis Workshops

All thesis writers are required to take the fall Honors Thesis Workshop (8:120). Ideally an honors student will write the thesis in a fall-spring semester sequence in which a first draft is produced in the Thesis Workshop in the fall and a revised essay is completed in Honors Independent Study (8:198) in the spring.

Students who wish to write their theses in a spring-fall semester sequence must meet with the Honors Director before beginning the thesis project. To enroll in the Honors Thesis Workshop, a student must have completed one honors proseminar with a grade of A- or better, and must have a 3.5 English G.P.A. and a UI G.P.A. of 3.3.

Students may sign up for the fall Thesis Workshop during the pre-registration period in the spring semester. May graduates must submit a Statement of Purpose approved by the thesis director at the first meeting of the Thesis Workshop. December graduates must have a completed first draft.

Thesis Submission and Evaluation

For December graduates, the thesis must be ready for submission to the thesis director and a second reader by the 13th week of classes. For May graduates, the thesis must be ready for submission by the 11th week of classes.

On submission day, students need to present the final version of the project to the thesis director and to deliver one copy to the Honors Director who has arranged for a second reader, a faculty member with familiarity with the student’s subject area, to evaluate the thesis. Within ten days, the student will receive written evaluations and a letter from the Honors Director. Students may be asked to revise their theses in minor or substantive ways, depending on the recommendations of the thesis director and the second reader. The revision process is supervised by the thesis director.

After the evaluation process is completed, and all revisions, if necessary, are made, the student must create two copies of the honors thesis title page. These must be proofread and approved by the Blank Honors Center. Only after approval can the title pages be signed by the thesis director and the Honors Director. The student then submits one copy of the thesis with the signed title page to the Honors Director, and one copy to the Blank Honors Center for storage in their library. The deadline for submitting the honors thesis to the Blank Honors Center for students wishing to graduate the semester the thesis is completed is the Wednesday of Finals Week.

The EHP encourages students to finish their revisions before the spring Undergraduate Honors Award Ceremony which is held during the last week of April. At the Awards Ceremony, thesis advisors present certificates of recognition to their advisees.

Read more about thesis formatting requirements.