Research Essay Comps
Research Essay Comps
The Research Essay option for the Senior Integrative Exercise provides an opportunity to develop an interpretive essay on a challenging topic of the student’s own devising. The process includes the formulation, research, composition, shaping and polishing of a 30-40 page essay that poses a significant literary question and sustains for its duration a strong and clearly argued thesis, followed by a public presentation at the departmental symposium. The key to success lies in defining a workable topic with a broader scope than papers for courses allow. It is an opportunity to “join the critical conversation” about the chosen topic and requires a broad and deep grasp of primary texts, a thorough knowledge of the literary era and milieu in which chosen authors worked, a familiarity with relevant and influential secondary sources, including criticism, and development of the essay-writer’s own critical perspective.
1. The student must have attended the required Information Literacy & Research Methods session for English Majors offered early Fall term by the Literature specialist in the Gould Library.
2. The student is required to have done prior work related to the topic through courses, independent study or other avenues, before embarking on the research essay comps.
3. The student must take an advanced seminar in the major by the end of Fall term of the senior year.
B. In choosing and refining a topic, the student must:
1. select an area of interest;
2. narrow that area down to a sufficiently focused topic in which he or she has a firm enough grounding and is capable of working on independently over an extended period; and
3. meet with a faculty member to discuss the topic, possible approaches and resources, and how to develop a research proposal for an essay on that topic. This should happen in spring term of junior year so that thinking and research can continue over the summer between junior and senior years.
C. In the Fall of the senior year students must submit a written research proposal consisting of:
1. A completed English Department Research Essay Comps Proposal Form (downloaded from the web).
2. A one-paragraph summary (Abstract) of the argument, included on the proposal form;
3. A description of the proposed essay, including
a. definition of the topic;
b. a precise statement of the question to be addressed and the probable answer – this is the working thesis;
c. an account of the evidence and approaches to be used to develop the essay’s argument;
d. an explanation of how this essay will serve as an appropriate culmination of your English major, drawing on prior coursework, interests, critical skills, etc.
4. An assessment of the importance and significance of the proposed essay (i.e., why will this be a productive study? What will it add to our understanding of the chosen topic? Why will this be worth the time to write and to read?)
5. An annotated bibliography of relevant materials (primary and secondary) indicating which of them have already been consulted and which remain to be read.
The Research Proposal should be about five pages long, excluding the abstract and the bibliography. Proposals will be read anonymously so do not put your name on the proposal itself, but only on a Cover Sheet with the name of the proposed essay as well. Essay proposals that do not display extensive and thoughtful preparation will need to be revised and resubmitted.
D. The final Research Essay Comps will consist of the following:
1. A 30-40 page essay due at the end of winter term of senior year.
2. A public presentation at the English Comps symposium in the spring term.
E. What does a successful Comps Research Essay look like?
A successful research essay will advance a strong, lucid, and coherent argument in response to a compelling literary question. It will effectively situate its argument in relevant critical and literary-historical contexts. It will support its thesis and subsidiary claims with substantive research, using evidence from carefully chosen primary and secondary works. It will demonstrate the writer’s own critical perspective, interpretive skills, and thoughtful attention to textual detail. It will be designed, written, and revised for effectiveness and clarity.
CALENDAR & DEADLINES
Conversation with English department faculty about essay topic being proposed.
Thursday, Sept. 19, Common Time (First Week of Classes): Required research methods workshop with Reference Librarian, Library 306.
Noon, Monday, October 7, 2013 (beginning of 4th week): Proposals due: an electronic copy emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and a paper copy left in Laird 208. These will be read anonymously so do not put your name on the proposal itself but only on a cover sheet with name of essay as well. Revisions of the proposal may be required.
Later in fall term: Students will be assigned an advisor and are required to meet with the advisor before leaving for winter break.
Monday, January 20th (after 2 weeks of classes): 10-page draft due to advisor.
Monday, February 17th (beginning of 7th week): Full draft due to advisor.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (last day of classes): Final essay due in English office by 5 p.m. (2 copies).
Students receive evaluations of their essay. Revisions to essays, if required, due at noon April 28, 2014 (the beginning of 5th week).
Saturday, May 10, 2014: Each student will deliver a public presentation on the essay topic at the English Comps Symposium.
5/20/13 for 2013-2014