English Honors Program
The Undergraduate Honors Program in English provides students the opportunity to work closely with other honors students and individually with a faculty member on an independent project that can function as a capstone for the major and a culmination of a student’s undergraduate experience in the field. The Department of English encourages English majors to apply, whether they are considering graduate work in English or simply wish to enrich their college experience through an honors thesis project.
The honors thesis represents an important achievement in a particular genre of writing (whether critical or creative or a mix of the two), so students should apply to do honors work in a field in which they already have significant experience, usually from classes taken during the first three years of the undergraduate curriculum in English. In most cases, the honors thesis should be viewed as the culmination of a sustained interest in a set of critical and/or creative questions and issues. The Honors Program in English welcomes critical, creative, interdisciplinary, mixed genre, and hybrid creative/critical projects.
The program begins with the application process in the spring of a student’s junior year. Following successful admission into the program, honors students will begin preliminary reading and writing over the summer. Candidates will take a honors seminar (3 credits) in the fall of their senior year and begin work on their theses—work which continues into the spring. Students will complete a substantial portion of the thesis by the end of the fall semester. The thesis mentor and the Director of Honors will then evaluate the student’s work and determine whether the student should proceed to the completion of the thesis in the spring. In a case of discrepancy between the mentor and the Director of Honors, the Honors Committee will read the student’s work on the thesis to that point and consult with both faculty members in order to make a final decision.
In the spring of their senior year, each student will complete their thesis and enroll in a 3-credit thesis tutorial course, which combines a weekly seminar course guided by the Director of Honors with an independent study with the student’s mentor. The final draft of the thesis is due in mid-spring, and is submitted both to the faculty mentor and department staff. Theses differ in length depending on their topics and genres, but the recommended length is 50-65 pages. Honors theses should not exceed 100 pages in length.
In April, during their senior year, successful candidates (those receiving a minimum of an “A-” in the judgment of the student’s faculty mentor and a second anonymous faculty reader chosen by the Honors Committee) will make brief presentations of their thesis projects at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, to which all faculty and students are invited. Their achievements are recognized and celebrated at this event.
The honors seminar courses satisfy the Senior Seminar requirement for English majors. Otherwise, all honors work is done in addition to completing the requirements for the English major.