English MA Project/Thesis: Thesis
Thesis (ENGL 5990, 6 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 5990, 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 5990 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 10 of the semester in which they will defend the thesis. The defense should take place no later than Week 14 of the semester 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.