English MA Project/Thesis: Thesis
Overview of the Project/Thesis
One expects an intellectual bridge between program coursework and the project/thesis. Notwithstanding, the culminating activity must progress substantially beyond any bridging coursework. The project/thesis has a formal beginning and end, from project/thesis proposal to final submission. Students should consult with the Graduate Adviser and their project/thesis faculty director about planning their culminating activity. Careful thought should be given to the strategic use of ENGL 599 units.
To begin a project/thesis, students must find an English faculty member who will agree to direct the project/thesis and also chair the project/thesis committee comprised of three faculty readers. The project/thesis committee and department chair must formally approve the proposed project/thesis and submit the signed form (GS 12) to the College of Arts and Letters for final approval by the Associate Dean before the project/thesis officially begins.
The submission formats of a project and of a thesis are similar. As with the thesis, the project will require a “narrative” for submission and approval. The project/thesis narrative will precede either the pedagogical portfolio or the journal article in its final form of submission. The 5-unit Thesis typically meets the narrative requirements with the introduction to the main work. The project/thesis narrative (explaining significance, objectives, methodology, and offering a conclusion or a recommendation) will likely have been foreshadowed in the justifying and explanatory language of the original project/thesis proposal. Students should submit their project/thesis narrative with their pedagogical portfolio or journal article to the project/thesis committee for final approval. Library submission of the Pedagogical-Portfolio Project and the Journal-Article Thesis will require other front matter (title page, table of contents, approval form GS 13, etc.).
Thesis (ENGL 599, 5 units)
The thesis may be in the areas of literature, of composition, rhetoric, and language, or of creative writing. (1) A thesis in literature should concentrate on such issues as the analysis of a text or body of texts, a literary genre, and/or the literary treatment of a theme or social development. (2) A thesis in composition, rhetoric, and language should focus on the analysis of pedagogical approaches to the teaching of writing and the scholarship supporting that pedagogy or the analysis of a rhetorical or linguistic feature present in a text or body of discourse. (3) A thesis in creative writing will present a body of original work by the student with a scholarly introduction of 10-15 pages that objectively describes, assesses, and places the original work within its literary and critical traditions. (NOTE: Catalog language refers to this culminating activity as “Thesis Option B.”)
The thesis in literature or in composition, rhetoric, and language should, with lucid and polished prose, demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze texts and their contexts, generate and prove a sophisticated and original argument, and situate that argument in existing critical conversations. Students writing the thesis in literature or in composition, rhetoric, and language must synthesize a wider range of texts and contextual materials than that analyzed in the Journal-Article Thesis. The thesis, whose length is determined by the subject, will generally range from 40-70 pages.
Students must be advanced to candidacy before enrolling in the first unit of ENGL 599, which is used for preparation and approval of the thesis proposal. The thesis committee must approve the thesis proposal before students can begin the thesis and enroll in the other ENGL 599 units. Thesis topics must reflect the student’s field of specialization, as indicated by completion of coursework in this area. The format and length of the thesis proposal are to be determined in consultation with the thesis director. Proposals are generally 6-8 double-spaced pages of text, exclusive of the bibliography. Sample proposals are available from the English Department Graduate Adviser.
Proposals must demonstrate the student’s ability to generate, develop, and articulate an original argument; organize a substantive research project; locate salient primary and secondary sources; integrate sources effectively; and write clearly, persuasively, and accurately. Proposals must define the main lines of inquiry, explain the theoretical or critical methodology, and articulate the significance of the project. Proposals will not be approved unless they articulate an argument that is suitable for development as a thesis-length project. Creative writing proposals must indicate the literary/critical traditions in which the original work is grounded. Proposals must include a bibliography of approximately 15-20 sources; brief original annotations should demonstrate the student’s familiarity with these sources. Secondary sources should be recent (although earlier seminal studies may be included), peer-reviewed, and varied (ideally including books, essays in edited collections, and academic journal articles).
Preparation and Submission of the Thesis
It is recommended that thesis committees convene with or without students at least three times: (1) to respond to the initial proposal or concept, (2) to respond to a complete early draft and Works Cited list, and (3) to assess the final draft.
The thesis requires an oral defense. Students should provide committee members with individual copies of the final draft no later than Week 6 of the quarter in which they will defend the thesis. The defense should take place no later than Week 9 of the quarter in which the thesis is to be completed.
Early in the writing of the thesis, students should familiarize themselves with University submission requirements, attend workshops if necessary, and consult with the Thesis Reviewer of the College of Arts and Letters for specific questions.
Though a digital copy of the project/thesis will be stored in JFK Library, the English Department also maintains its own archive. Students should provide a digital or hard copy for the archive of the English Department.