English Honors Program
The English Department offers two options for writing an Honors Thesis: a critical project (roughly 50 pages) or a creative project (a novel, a sustained work of creative nonfiction, a series of short stories, or a collection of poetry). This project is mentored by a faculty member in weekly meetings over the course of the year.
2017-18 Honors projects include creative memoirs, essay collections, and poem cycles, as well as fresh critical approaches that range from an analysis of “soundscapes” in eighteenth-century fiction to the Gothic tradition in television’s “Penny Dreadful,” and from “subversive virginity” in thirteenth-century medieval texts to a study of tradition in T.S. Eliot’s poetry.
Download suggestions and a worksheet for generating a topic for an Honors Thesis.
Eligibility for Honors
If you are a junior English major with a GPA of 3.6 or higher in your English courses, we hope you will consider applying to write a senior thesis, either scholarly or creative, under the supervision of a full-time English faculty member. Once admitted to Departmental Honors, you’ll enroll in EN 6600.01 both semesters of senior year, fulfilling six (elective) credits toward the major. Accepted candidates add EN 6600.01 during drop/add of the fall term.
To be considered for Honors, you need to have completed at least three ENGL courses by the time you apply, one of which must be either Studies in Poetry or Studies in Narrative. Creative writers need to have taken at least two writing workshops, with a grade of A or A-in both; one must be in the genre of the proposed project. For writers of scholarship it’s helpful to have taken an Advanced Topic Seminar, ideally by spring of junior year, but this is not required. Applications are due by May 1 at 5:00 p.m., even if you’re studying abroad.
Finding an Honors Advisor
All honors theses are advised by a full-time faculty member in the English Department. Most honors applicants start looking for an advisor early in spring semester of junior year. In some cases, especially for creative projects, the process begins even earlier. The application process is highly individual, and the Honors Director is available to help you through it, from developing a topic to finding resources to locating the best advisor for the project. You might begin by approaching a faculty member you know well from a current or past class. (Keep in mind, however, that faculty ordinarily advise only one thesis a year, and professors on leave advise theses only in very unusual circumstances). Checking faculty by Field of Interest is another good place to begin.
If you’re proposing a creative project, it’s best to begin with an instructor from a current or prior workshop, who knows your writing well. Your instructor can help connect you to a suitable advisor who works in your proposed genre. See here for a list of Creative writing faculty.
Admissions to Honors is competitive. An important element in your application is your prospective advisor’s supporting letter (emailed separately to the Honors Director by the application deadline). Be sure, once you have a verbal agreement to work with a full-time faculty member, that you work together on your prospectus and reading list. This early research and writing is as integral to the success of your project as any of the later portions of your work. It’s up to you, as the applicant, to arrange to meet with your prospective advisor, share drafts of your proposal and reading list, and get your prospective advisor’s support and approval well before the deadline.
- Honors Program Application: Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 1st, 2018
- Application Guidelines
- Honors Guidelines for Thesis Writers