CSULA Department of English | MA Thesis

English MA Project/Thesis: Thesis

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.

Thesis Proposal

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.

Archive Copy

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.