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. 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 webpage, “Dissertation, Doctoral Project, and Thesis Information.”

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of the preparation involved in beginning serious work on your critical, 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.

Students should register for the M.A. Thesis Seminar to be taken in their third semester. By the end of their second semester, they must identify a general topic or focus for their thesis project. Around the mid-point of their second semester, students will be asked to submit an informal thesis prospectus that details the interest and scope of the thesis. The Director of Graduate Studies and Program Administrator will use this prospectus to match students with their advisor and second reader. Students should plan to devote the semester break between their second and third semesters to serious preparatory work for their project.

Before you begin writing:

Options for the thesis include critical and scholarly work, as well as multimodal and public outreach projects. The program expects theses to reflect original research, analysis, and writing with 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 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, including submission of the Thesis Proposal by early December; 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. Students will also schedule a two-hour thesis defense session with the advisor and second reader. A signed Master’s Thesis Reviewers Report Form should be submitted a week before the scheduled defense to the Program Administrator. 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. Students are expected to abide by the University’s honor code and should review the Graduate School’s policies on Academic Integrity.

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 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.

Please note that this timeline is subject to change as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences finalizes its schedule for the Fall semester.

Monday, March 11: Students must submit their complete thesis draft to both their advisor and second reader.

Monday, March 18 – Wednesday, March 27: Students must complete their thesis defense. Students should schedule a 90-minute time block with their advisor and second reader, even though the defense may not take all of that time.
Note: One week before their scheduled defense, students must submit their Master’s Thesis Reviewers Report Form to the Program Administrator via DocuSign. After the scheduled defense, the student’s advisor and second reader will complete the Thesis Defense Report Form and submit the form to the Program Administrator via DocuSign.

Last Week of March, First Days of April: Students must complete required revisions to their thesis.

Tuesday, April 2: Students must submit their revised thesis to their advisor for feedback in advance of review by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Wednesday, April 10th: Students must submit the final version of their thesis to the Director of Graduate Studies for review and approval. Upon approval, students will submit the Cover Sheet and Electronic Thesis & Dissertation (ETD) Release Form to the Program Administrator via DocuSign.

In the event that a student cannot meet a posted deadline, they must reach out to the Program Administrator ( and the Director of Graduate Studies to request an extension to ensure that they are on track to meet the Graduate School deadline.

Friday, April 19th: The deadline established by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for students to have uploaded their thesis to ProQuest.

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 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 repository.

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

What Would Joan Do? examines Joan Didion’s style, storytelling, and self-presentation to complicate traditional notions of trauma narratives and their role in the writing classroom.
The Embodied Project is an audio art project devoted to exploring the idea that how we embody our feelings is related to how we feel about our bodies.
A multisensory, multimodal approach to the artistic lives of medieval religious women, in every sense works to take the visual, literary, and musical art produced by medieval nuns and anchoresses and make it real to the modern learner by encouraging them to create art as well.
Queer Cinema for High School is a curriculum for a semester-long 11th/12th grade course that combines the study of queer film, film studies, and queer theory.
Through a curated and annotated list of texts and digital media, this project—“Space to Dream”: Queer Speculative Disability Narratives & Their Liberatory Value—advocates for speculative worldscapes as spaces of possibility for queer disabled and other marginalized communities.
Teaching Shakespeare to English Learners provides an archive of available resources and sample lesson plans that educators can draw on to teach advanced learners Shakespeare.
Social Education is a social media campaign that interrogates the racist, classist, homophobic, and patriarchal structures that underly our assumptions about human trafficking and offers a more just, victim-centered understanding of this complex issue.
By implementing theatre production notes gathered from prompt books, “From Stage to Page” turns traditional play texts into interactive activities.
The UNPRECEDENTED Project, is a public poetry initiative that mails torn pages of The Decameron to anonymous strangers. Participants are asked to create a “redaction poem” directly on the page–obscuring or redacting parts of the pre-existing text to reveal only a few choice words and phrases. The creative process asks participants to feel, search, and reflect on the COVID-19 crisis through a chance act of poetry and its contribution to a larger collection.
The Franken-Folio is an evolved or emergent version of the teaching portfolio that responds to a changing world, notably a COVID-19 world. In this world, Bettina Love—an abolitionist educator, scholar, and activist—argues “we have the opportunity not to just reimagine schooling or try to reform injustice but to start over.” This portfolio proposes that we start over by making teaching portfolios—that privilege reflection, collaboration, and opportunities for feedback with a focus on design justice—a powerful tool that helps us decide who we want to do the work of starting over with.
In this video series, Laying Down the Edges explores and examines the natural hair community on YouTube and the cultural and social structures shaping it.
How does a teacher respond in the wake of a national tragedy? National Trauma and Teaching Practices is an online teaching resource developed to help educators address controversial issues and moments of national trauma in their classrooms.
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 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.
Intro to Literature and Writing is a curriculum developed for a literature and writing seminar for incarcerated students.
To assist in building resiliency and aid in recovery after war time service, kill.z0n3 is an online outreach platform for veterans on Instagram.
To Read a Poem is a Tumblr account for amateur readers and writers of poetry who want to learn more but don’t know where to start.
Many of us recognize the dangers posed by the climate crisis, but many of us also hold different theories of how to fight it. Environmental Ecology is a course proposed to help better grasp the various theories and methods for combating climate change.
Investigating the Book is a digital guide that explores the book as a material object and receptacle of history and humanity.
Explore an annotated history of photography through the history of a single image via The Annotated Darkroom—an online exhibit with critical commentaries.
Originally created as a grant proposal, MA English alumni Paul de León’s online portfolio is aimed at improving the veteran experience on Georgetown’s campus as well as throughout institutions of post-secondary education across the nation.
An introduction to Signstuck, this video series is a primer on postmodern critical theorists, using the lens of Andrew Hussie’s webcomic Homestuck.
Reading for Pleasure is a project that explores the intricacies and complexities of escapist, pleasurable reading. It uses two popular genres—romance and detective novels—to help readers think critically about books.
Allusions is a website designed 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 on
Novel Climate is a podcast that uses literary works as a lens for exploring intersections between environmental and social issues.