The Thesis Project

Students completing a thesis project should familiarize themselves with both this webpage and the Graduate School’s webpage on academic resources and policies (new window). They should also be aware that the approval and submission of a thesis is a multi-step process involving both the Department of English and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

All institutional policies, procedures, and academic forms involving thesis submission are available on the Graduate School’s “Dissertation, Doctoral Project, and Thesis Information” (new window) webpage.

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of the preparation involved in beginning serious work on your critical, creative, multimodal, or public outreach thesis project, and on the M.A. Thesis Seminar, as well as submission instructions once your work is complete.

Departmental guidelines on writing the thesis are also described below.

In the spring of their first year, students should register for the M.A. Thesis Seminar to be taken the following fall. By the end of their first year, they must identify a general topic or focus for their thesis project. By or before the conclusion of final exams in the spring, students must inform the Director of Graduate Studies and Program Manager who has agreed to serve as their advisor and second reader. They should plan to devote the summer between the two years to serious preparatory work for their project.

Before you begin writing:

Options for the thesis include critical, scholarly, and/or creative work, as well as multimodal and public outreach projects. The program expects theses to reflect original research, analysis, and writing of considerable depth and complexity appropriate to Master’s level work. As such, scholarly and critical theses should fall between 15,000–22,000 words, where 1 page = approximately 250 words in length. Equivalent in scope to the scholarly and critical thesis, a creative, multimodal, and/or public outreach thesis project should include a written rationale of at least 7,500–10,000 words in length. Most students also build out the latter thesis projects using digital tools; however, the public outreach thesis option does not require previous technical expertise.

Research and design of thesis projects will take up the bulk of the work in the M.A. Thesis Seminar in the fall; students are expected to continue working to design and polish their work independently in the spring of year two. Students work with their advisor to complete the thesis by the Department of English and Graduate School deadlines.

Complete first drafts of the thesis are due to both the advisor and the second reader by a date established by the Director of Graduate Studies, usually the Friday before spring break. By spring break students will also schedule a two-hour thesis defense session with the advisor and second reader. A signed Master’s Thesis Reviewers Report Form (new window) should be submitted a week before the scheduled defense to the Program Manager. Those sessions will typically take place between the Monday after spring break and the last Friday in March. More information about the thesis defense will be distributed to students, advisors, and second readers over the weeks leading up to spring break.

The outcome of the thesis defense will determine how much additional work the student will need to do before submitting the final version of the thesis project for approval by the advisor and the program. The deadline for submission of that final draft will usually be the first Friday in April.

Students are expected to abide by the University’s honor code (new window) and should review the Graduate School’s policies on Academic Integrity (new window).

While the vast majority of M.A. English students will graduate in May, it is possible to submit a thesis and graduate in either August or December. Students must submit the finished thesis to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) only after it has been approved and signed by the thesis advisor. The DGS will not read theses that have not been thoroughly and finally corrected, revised, and approved by the thesis advisor.

Please note: As of April 2020, our department is using an electronic signature platform—DocuSign—for the forms listed below.

After you have completed the final revision:

  1. Submit your thesis to your advisor and second reader.
  2. Sign the electronic Master’s Thesis Cover Sheet and Electronic Thesis & Dissertation (ETD) Release Form sent by the Program Manager via DocuSign. Students should determine the deadline of their thesis based on the month in which they wish to graduate. 
  3. Once you have been notified that the DGS has approved your thesis, follow the Graduate School’s procedure for official submission (new window) via ProQuest. Please keep in mind that it is necessary to submit your thesis for review in advance of the listed deadline.

The Graduate School meticulously reviews all submitted thesis projects. Students must pay careful attention to grammar, punctuation, spelling, and margins, or the Graduate School may not accept their theses. The final version of the thesis must be proofread carefully in order to pass the Graduate School’s review. Neither the Director of Graduate Studies nor the thesis advisor is responsible for proofreading the thesis.


In practice, students have developed a wide range of scholarly and critical thesis projects. Here are some ideas, with links to recent theses. If you’d like to view examples of creative, multimodal, and/or public outreach projects, continue scrolling to view the section below.

Freedom Seeking and Self-Making in Twentieth Century Black Women’s Literature

Adapting The Juice: Performances of Legal Authority through Representations of the O.J. Simpson Trial

Fairy Tale Bildungsroman: Charlotte Brontë’s Deployment of Fairy Tale Tropes and Narrative Logic in Jane Eyre

“Stories Can Save Us”: Writing as Therapy In War Literature, Poetry, and Memoir

No Respecter of ‘Place, Persons, Or Time’: Festivity as Coercive Power in Twelfth Night and The Puritan Widow

And They Lived Happily Ever After. The End? Postfeminism and the Rebranding of the Disney Princesses

Cyberspace and the Post-Cyberpunk Decentering of Anthropocentrism

The Grammar of Ethics in Paradise Lost

Pleasure, Reading: Literacy, Sexuality and Empowerment in Queer Chicano Narrative

The Infinite Frontier: Imperialism, Frontierism and Nostalgia in World of Warcraft

Queer Sexual and Textual Practice: The Postmodernist Poetics of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

Additional topics can be found via the University’s DigitialGeorgetown (new window) repository.


In practice, students have developed a wide range of creative, multimodal, and/or public outreach projects. Here are some ideas, with links to recent theses.

Develop a digital guide that helps readers think critically about books.
Create an online exhibit with critical commentaries.
Produce a podcast or video series (view video series #1, or video series #2).
Write a grant proposal for a project you want to develop.
Design a website with games and resources to help students understand how allusions work in literature.
Explore the poetics of the fragment form both in and outside of the lyric essay tradition.
Develop an online guide to and discussion about fiction related to domestic violence and abuse.
Develop curricula for a literature and writing seminar for incarcerated students.
Create an outreach platform for veterans to assist in building resiliency and aid in recovery after war time service.
Create a Tumblr account for amateur readers and writers of poetry who want to learn more but don’t know where to start.
The Wildness Project is a series of nine ecofeminist photo essays that each aim to destabilize the way we frame a word in relation to the environment or the non-human world.
Informed by how autistic self-advocates describe their own reading practices and inspired by the technological ingenuity of neurodivergent people, Seeing Feelingly refocuses reading pedagogy toward accessibility and reader response while building a neurodiverse community around a shared love of literature.
The goal for The Werking Body is to create a public forum for fans to express, grapple, and explore their desires as they relate to hip-hop and R&B music.
Teaching Tanith Lee: The website highlights the academic value of Lee’s work, helps educators identify which of her novels and short stories are most appropriate for their needs and interests, proposes possible lesson plans, and hosts several games based on Lee’s retold fairy tales.
A Library of One’s Own” expansively democratizes the potential of a book collection through the curation of a library built around factors beyond the “points” that traditionally dictate value in the rare book field.
The Queer Code is a podcast that looks into the historical restrictions on showing queer characters in Hollywood films and the queer subtexts that often result from this.