This is a one-semester, three-credit course that consists of reading, research, and assignments completed in one-on-one consultation with a Director.
Important: Students may register for this course only after their thesis topic is approved by the thesis coordinator. See the Master’s Thesis Guidelines for details, and the Important Dates section of our Application page for thesis application deadlines.
The first semester of the thesis focuses on the research question and foundational reading. Students will develop a research question and use this to select essential secondary criticism, then write short responses to the most relevant texts they read during the semester. Serving as the foundation for the subsequent semester’s continued reading and initial drafting, this semester allows students to read widely, and discuss current and core trends in relevant scholarship with their thesis directors.
Note: Students who have earned at least 21 credits by August 15, 2022 may choose between the three semester plan and the previous two semester plan (LITZ 6398 & LITZ 6399). For details, see the Thesis Guidelines on this page. Students should consult the Thesis Coordinator and their academic advisor with any questions about eligibility or exceptions to the “consecutive” guideline.
Schedule and Assignments
The following assignments will be produced during the Thesis Research semester in close consultation with the student’s Thesis Director. Any or all of these assignments may be revised at the Director’s instructions and will be graded by the Director on a Pass/Fail/Honors basis.
Initial Reading List (due Week 2)
Students will develop a research question and an extensive reading list of primary texts, secondary studies (including book-length works, essays in collections, and articles in journals), and other related writings germane to the research project. This will typically be created within the first two weeks of the semester, as the student’s goal should be to read all or most of the works on the list during the term. Perhaps 20 primary sources (including poems, short stories, screenplays, novels, autobiographical material, etc.), 10 book-length secondary studies, and 10 scholarly articles/chapters might be a good basic formula for the number of works included, but this will depend on the discretion of the student’s thesis director.
Literature Reviews (suggested deadlines Weeks 4, 7, 10, and 13)
In consultation with their Director, students will identify which four of the secondary texts are most important to the topic of the thesis; at least two should be book-length. The student will write a literature review on each of these four works. Each literature review should survey the content, quality, and relevance of the book to the topic of the thesis; the student should complete the semester with 12-16 pages of scholarly written work. In most cases, these reviews will be around 3-5 pages each and due at approximately three-week intervals, but an alternate schedule may be arranged with the student’s thesis director at the start of the semester. In shortened form, these literature reviews may form the foundation for the student’s annotated bibliography in semester 2.