Special Programs

Honors Program

The honors program in English and Writing effectively means undertaking an Honors Thesis. The English faculty has designed the program for English majors who have consistently demonstrated their talent for and commitment to literary studies and especially to rigorous critical inquiry. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in literature and writing will find the experience particularly useful. Junior majors interested in the honors program should direct their questions to Dr. Alec Marsh or their advisor.

Honors Program Requirements:

A minimum of 11 courses in the Department of English (which includes the two honors independent studies in the fall and spring of the senior year mentioned below).  A cumulative GPA of 3.3, and a major GPA of 3.5 is required for entrance into the program.

1.Two semesters of independent study in the senior year devoted to the development and completion of the honors thesis. The honors student will work under the direction of a faculty member. Two or three faculty members, one of whom may come from outside the department, will serve as readers. These readers will be consulted regularly on the project throughout the senior year.

2. For scheduling reasons, a preliminary proposal for an independent study leading to an honors thesis endorsed by the prospective director should be submitted to the Director of the Honors Program by May 1 of the junior year. The proposal should run 3-5 double-spaced pages and include a working bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

3. The submission to the Honors Committee of a detailed plan or prospectus with bibliography by November 15 of the senior year. At that time, in consultation with the director of the independent study, a decision will be made by the Honors Committee to accept the Honors project or to terminate it at the end of the fall term, in which case the Honors Independent Study will simply become an ordinary independent study with no further expectations. If the proposal is approved, the student may proceed.

4. An oral presentation to fellow English majors and English department faculty on the subject of the honors thesis in mid April.

5. The completion of a thesis (typically about 50-60 pages), a copy of which must be submitted to each of the student’s readers by May 1 of the senior year.

6. A concluding conversation with the student’s thesis committee (director and readers) during finals week to discuss and evaluate the student’s work.

The thesis committee will recommend to the Department Chair the degree of honors to be awarded (none, honors, high, or highest).

We have included here four examples of Honors Theses by recent graduates in English.

Meghan Winch, 2006:
     "Aunt Pidgie can tell you a thing or two":
     Reading Molly Keane Through the Forgotten Plays
Meghan Winch’s “‘Aunt Pidgie can tell you a thing or two’”: Reading Molly Keane through the Forgotten Plays” recovers six of the Irish writer’s plays and examines how they relate to the performative aspect of her better known novels. Winch’s correspondence with Molly Keane’s daughter, her original research and discoveries, and her analysis of the steady growth in power of the maiden aunt figure in these works help to illuminate Keane’s career and highlight her shifting views and ideals.

Matthew Moore, 2004:
Matt Moore’s “‘Terrible Beauty’: Postcolonialism, Modernism, and the Fate of Tragedy in the Abbey Theatre 1897-1907” explores the relationship between two seemingly incompatible aesthetic movements – Modernism and Postcolonialism – in the political context of their emergence in the Irish nation. Moore analyzes the work of three members of the Celtic Revival: W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn. He then traces the response to this work embodied in J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (1907).

Sarah Kersh, 2003:
     Paradise Revised:
     Christina Rossetti, H.D. and Problems with Poetic Tradition
In “Paradise Revised: Christina Rossetti, H. D., and Problems with Poetic Tradition,” Sarah Kersh contributes to feminist studies that construct a history, or her-story, of female poets, emphasizing the major role women poets played in shaping the literary canon. Her study focuses on Rossetti’s revisionist poetics and her influence on the Modernist work of HD. Both writers challenge a number of traditional figurative sites used by male poets – especially landscape and the image of the garden.  

Jackie Starner, 2008:
     Shelley and Plato:
     Metaphysical Formulations
In “Shelley and Plato: Metaphysical Formulations,” Jackie Starner examines how Percy Shelley consciously incorporates Plato’s philosophy in imagining important early works like Alastor and “Mont Blanc” and then reworks Plato’s metaphysical ideas in later poems such as “To a Sky-Lark,” Adonais, and the unfinished fragment, The Triumph of Life. In both his poetry and prose writings, Shelley assimilates but radically rethinks Plato’s philosophy in Ion and The Symposium to create his own metaphysical view.  

Teacher Certification

Students seeking certification for the teaching of English in secondary schools are required to take the following nine courses in fulfillment of their English major. A student who chooses ENG 277 or 278 Nationalism, Romanticism, & American Literature or ENG 338 or 339 City, Frontier, & Empire in American Literature to fulfill both the nineteenth century and American literature requirements must enroll for an additional course numbered 300 or greater to fulfill the nine-course minimum.

  • ENG 275 Theory & Methods of English Studies
  • One elective in American literature drawn from: ENG 271 or 272, 273, 277 or 278, 338 or 339, 349 or 350, 356 or 357
  • One course in Nineteenth Century literature drawn from: ENG 202, 206, 212, 214, 277 or 278, 329 or 330, 331 or 333, 338 or 339, 378 or 379, 391 or 392.
  • One writing process or theory course: ENG 240 or 241, 245 or 246, 298
  • ENG 247 or 248 Shakespeare or ENG 321 or 322: Shakespeare Reproduced
  • One additional Genealogies course drawn from: ENG 216, 313 or 314, 315 or 316, 323 or 324, 325 or 326
  • One course in a literature other than British or American: ENG 217, 340 or 341, 343 or 344, 345 or 346, 375, or a comparable course offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures
  • ENG 295 or 296 The English Language.
  • ENG 400-449: CUE: Senior Seminar.