Honors Handbook

Click here to submit an English Honors Application online.

Faculty Contacts

Please note: Email is the best and most reliable way to contact the faculty listed below with any questions or concerns you have regarding the Honors Program. Click the professor's name to view his or her official faculty webpage.

Professor Eric Keenaghan, Honors Program Director
ekeenaghan@albany.edu
(518) 442-4078

Professor Laura Wilder, Director of Undergraduate Studies
lwilder@albany.edu
(518) 442-4084

Feel free to stop by and check out the Honors Lab (Humanities 373), a space reserved for students in the Honors Program. The Honors Lab houses a library of theses from past years, and it also is supplied with personal computer stations and other research resources. It provides a space for Honors students to work individually on their projects, or a social space to meet and share ideas or to plan upcoming events.

Written by Eric Keenaghan, 2004, revised 2015 and 2016; revised by Helene Scheck, 2006; revised by Ineke Murakami 2012

 

What Is Honors?

If you become part of the Honors Program, you will join a relatively small community of English Department undergraduates who are on a route of intellectual and academic development that entails independent research. In your junior year, you will take part in a seminar about a special topic. This class is reserved for students accepted into the Honors Program, usually between 10 and 25 in any given year; and this is where everyone will begin to learn or continue to strengthen the research skills needed for developing a sustained, original project. During your senior year, you will continue to work with the Honors students you met the previous Spring. In each semester of your senior year, you will enroll in an upper-division English course devoted to helping you develop, research, and write your thesis. An undergraduate thesis is an independent researched critical or creative project on a topic of your own design and usually between 40 and 50 pages in length. It will be the culmination of your experience as an English Honors student. You might focus your work on an in-depth critical project about a cultural issue, a theoretic concept, an author, a literary period, or some other element of English Studies that you, specifically, find intellectually stimulating. You will research and write your thesis under the supervision of an English faculty member who will serve as your thesis advisor. In many cases, another faculty member from the English Department or from another academic unit at UAlbany will work with you as a second reader. Usually, second readers provide feedback about the finished product, at the end of the research and writing year.


Is the Honors Program Right for Me?

Students often hesitate to apply to the program because they wonder if they are “right” for English Honors, if they are able to write a lengthy research project, or if they are “smart enough.” The truth is that most English majors are capable of doing the work required of Honors. The question you should be asking, then, is: Is the Honors Program right for me? There are many reasons why the English Honors Program may be a good match for you. Here are a few:

(1) Honors may be right for you if you want to pursue a question or interest that might have been prompted for you in a course or that might have arisen out of your academic or writing experiences in another setting. Such an interest would be so strong that you would like to spend a year reading, writing, and talking about it.

(2) You are interested in producing innovative, original research. Thesis topics can fall either on the “traditional” or on the "nontraditional” side of English Studies; both prospects can lead to exciting and innovative research and writing projects. You yourself design your own project so as to reflect and explore your own individual interests. Recent project topics in the last few years include: a materialist and cultural study of the coca leaf; transgender theory and the cultural politics of the cult film Hedwig and the Angry Inch; a cultural study of texting and its effects on the language of everyday communication; a theoretic study of the violence of democratic societies, as read through ancient Greek tragedies; a literary study of homosexuality and the chivalric tradition in medieval literature; a conceptual study of how tropes of Eros and Thanatos operate historically and conceptually in the poetry of Emily Dickinson; a study of the ecological politics of life and death in graphic novels and comic books such as The Walking Dead and Swamp Thing; a cultural study of how street art bears the potential to transform city dwellers' political consciousness. If you want to do cutting edge work like the research modeled by these examples of Honors theses, this is the venue for you.

(3) You definitely should consider the Honors Program if you want to go to graduate school, whether for English Studies or for a related discipline that values the skills fostered by intensive work in English and the Humanities. Honors theses will give you refined material for application writing samples, and they indicate that you have the ability both to do research in the field and to sustain a long project, two skills required in and expected of you before you enter any graduate program. Also, writers of Honors theses develop more sophisticated senses of how to ask and explore a thetic or problem question. Graduate programs will take more seriously those candidates who not only write good compositions but who also are thinking in original ways and who are asking interesting critical questions of literary and cultural texts.

(4) You get to work closely with a faculty member. If you're thinking about applying to graduate school, this may mean a better recommendation letter by someone who really knows you, your interests, and your work. Even if you are not considering graduate school, you also will enjoy a rare experience that you do not often have in a class of 40 students! Your faculty advisor will encourage you to explore your interests while learning your limits. All the while, you will experience the freedom of doing an independent project that, in the end, is entirely reflective of you, your ideas and interests, and your abilities.

 

Sequence and Description of Courses in English Honors

Before you apply for English Honors in your sophomore or junior year, it is strongly recommended that you have 12 English credits in courses at the 200 and 300 level. Applicants should have completed the following prerequisites: English 205Z and English 210. It is highly recommended that they also be enrolled in or have completed English 305V and English 310, especially if they are juniors at the time of application. The Honors Program itself consists of a sequence of three courses that are taken, typically, from the Spring of junior year until graduation:

English 399Z    Honors Seminar: Special Topic

This course is offered every Spring and is open only to students, usually juniors (but occasionally sophomores), who have been accepted into the English Honors Program. It entails an intensive study of a special topic designed by the faculty instructor. The topic might vary from year to year. Here, you will begin to develop or continue to strengthen the research, writing, and critical skills needed for the completion of a lengthier project. (Note that, with the permission of the Honors Director or the Undergraduate Director, English 399Z may be substituted with a 500- or 600-level English course relevant to your thesis topic. This substituted course must be taken during your senior year. This option is especially suited for transfer students or others accepted into the program during the Spring of junior year, as well as for juniors studying abroad in the Spring.)

English 498    Honors Seminar I:  Developing and Writing a Thesis

This course is for seniors who are beginning to write their theses, and is offered in the Fall. It is devoted to getting your individual projects not merely under way but actually quite far along. Over the course of the semester, you will develop an abstract for your thesis idea and an annotated bibliography recording the start of your research; write a prospectus that outlines the chapter-by-chapter structure for your  argument; find and begin working with a faculty advisor and a second reader; practice communicating your original ideas and insights in a public presentation for a general audience; and complete the first strong draft of the first chapter or unit of your project.

English 499    Honors Seminar II: Thesis Writing

In this last course of the sequence, taken during the Spring semester of your senior year, you will finish writing and revising your undergraduate thesis, under the direction and mentorship of your faculty advisor and second reader. This independent study is when your work truly becomes independent, so it does entail a great deal of time management. You must be a self-starter who can keep on the track of the research and writing schedule you and your advisor have established. But you will not be left adrift and alone during this process. Every two to three weeks, you will meet during the time reserved for English 499 with the Honors Director and the rest of your cohort from the previous semester's Honors course, English 498. During these informal but required sessions, you will share with one another your progress, concerns, and questions. Toward the end of the Spring semester, there will be at least one public forum where you will have the opportunity to present your original and innovative work to a general audience from the University community. On the day of the English Department's Recognition Ceremony, over graduation weekend, your work will be recognized and celebrated with your friends and family. At that event, you also can introduce your faculty mentors to those people who have supported you throughout your student career.

 

Applying to the Honors Program

When To Apply

Interested majors should apply to the English Honors Program in the Spring of sophomore year or the Fall of junior year. If you miss those recommended deadlines or want to reapply (because a previous attempt was not successful), applications can be submitted through the Spring of junior year. Juniors who are considering the program are strongly encouraged to apply in the Fall before pre-registration for Spring courses; in this way, they will be able to take English 399Z and join the cohort that will be their immediate peers, academic community, and intellectual support system over the course of the next year. Interested majors who are transfers from other institutions should take English 205Z and English 210 as soon as possible, and apply to the program upon the completion those courses or (if encouraged by instructors) even during the semester when enrolled for those classes. Any students who have questions about admission or requirements should contact the Honors Director to set up a meeting.

How To Apply

Applications for the Honors Program are available online on the English Department webpage. Click here to apply.

Be sure to fill out all of the required field boxes, and click the “Submit” button to send your application electronically to the review committee. Directly email your critical writing sample to the Honors Director (whose email address is specified on the application) with your name and “Honors Writing Sample” in the subject line. If you are considering writing a creative writing thesis, it is recommended that you also submit a brief sample (no more than 10 pages) of your creative work. All applications will be read by a committee consisting of the Honors Director and other members of the English Department faculty.

What Kind of Essay To Include as a Critical Writing Sample

With your application, you must include a critical writing sample, and it should represent your best critical work. Your writing sample should be a close reading or a critically, historically, or theoretically informed reading of a primary literary or cultural text. Remember that thesis writers are first and foremost original critical thinkers, so avoid submitting summaries of literary texts or historical or textual overviews of changes in a theoretical concept. Instead, your essay should develop a focused and thesis-driven argument about how some aspect of a primary text works and why it is significant. Your essay should put your original reading of that primary text into conversation with one or more secondary texts, which might be literary criticism, theory, history, or archival documents. That critical conversation between your reading and these secondary texts will help you establish a context for your analysis of the primary text. It might even help you articulate what is called an "intervention"--or, an original critical contribution--in an ongoing critical conversation about an idea, problem, author, or text. Most often, the best writing samples are revised versions of papers from 300-level English courses, including English 305V, the advanced writing course required for the major's core. Writing samples average between five and ten pages in length. 

Conditions that May Affect Applicants’ Eligibility

GPA:  Although individual exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if one provides a very strong writing sample or has strong faculty recommendations, it is highly recommended that your overall GPA should be a minimum of 3.25 and that you should have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the English major. All students who complete the Honors Program sequence and their theses receive from the English Department an Honors Certificate, which recognizes their individual accomplishments. Graduating with a Bachelors of Arts with Honors degree and an "English Honors" designation on the University at Albany diploma necessitates completion of the three-course sequence and the thesis, as well as at least a 3.25 GPA overall plus a 3.5 GPA in the English major.

Application Prerequisites: Only English majors are eligible to apply. Applicants should have completed 12 credits in the major, including English 205Z and English 210. If you are a new transfer student matriculating with junior standing, you should apply while enrolled in English 205Z and English 210.  

Strongly Recommended before Applying or in the Semester When Applying:  English 305V and English 310 are also strongly recommended, especially for applicants who have junior standing.

Course Requirements for Graduating with Honors

When accepted into the program, Honors students should review their audits with the English Advisement Office. Afterward, bring any questions and concerns to the Honors Director, who will help you navigate upper division courses that might be best suited for your intellectual and writing interests.

Students in the program complete 37 credits according to the following distribution: The major core courses (English 205Z, English 210, English 305V, English 310); the English Honors sequence courses (English 399Z,  English 498 and English 499)*; 6 credits from literary surveys (English 261, English 291, English 292, English 295, or English 297); 6 credits specifically from 300- or 400-level English electives; and 3 credits from another 200, 300, or 400-level English elective**. To complete the Honors Program, students are required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.50 in English courses and a minimum 3.25 overall***. 

If a student does not demonstrate reasonable progress on her thesis in English 498, the Honors Director, in consultation with the student's thesis advisor, might disallow continuance of the program and completion of the project. In order to graduate with the English major, any student who voluntarily leaves or is dismissed from the Honors Program is responsible for the usual English major requirements. Both English Advisement and the Honors Director will advise her about to complete the degree's requirements.

* With proper advisement from the Honors Director and permission of instructor, students who had studied abroad or were accepted into the program in Spring of junior year can substitute, during senior year, English 399Z with a 500- or 600-level course relevant to their respective thesis topics. For University policies pertaining to undergraduate registration for graduate-level courses, click here to consult the Registrar's website. Honors students who are accepted into and enroll in the English BA/MA Program can complete the Honors sequence by substituting English 499 (Honors Thesis II, an independent study) with English 694 (MA Directed Reading, for 4 credits with the Honors thesis advisor as instructor of record). The substitution must be approved by the MA Director, as four credits counting toward the MA to be taken during the year of the student's enrollment in the overlapping programs. It is understood that the student's Honors thesis will be a substantially different project from his or her future MA thesis.

** Students might substitute an approved course offered outside the English Department. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the complete list of approved classes.

*** With the Honors Director's approval, determined on a case-by-case basis, students who are accepted into, and who continue with, the Honors Program and do not have these GPA minimums can complete the Honors sequence and their independent thesis projects. However, they will not receive a “BA-Honors” designation on their diplomas or transcripts if their GPA does not meet both minimum requirements by the time of graduation. Every student who successfully completes the Honors sequence, including the thesis, will receive an "Honors Certificate" from the English Department.

 

How Do I Start Developing an Original Thesis Project?

Some Suggestions for the Spring and Summer before Senior Year

Because your thesis is an independent research project, you will be generating your own reading lists and research agendas. But since very few students might already have definite plans for what their theses will be about when they are accepted into the program, it makes the most sense that, for most incoming Honors students, the first task—before the Fall semester when one begins researching and writing a project—is to identify one's major interests in this discipline called English Studies. How do you do this? There are three ways:

(1) If you already have a definite textual interest, you can begin by identifying and pursuing a problem that interests you in that text. Try to frame that problem in the terms of a “why” question. For instance, why does “preference” seem so problematic or frustrating in Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener"? Why do handbags play a central role in the fashion system through which many women construct their identities today, as is seen on television shows like Sex in the City? Why does the image of Guy Fawkes seem to surface in popular culture in moments of political crisis? Narrowing your problem question often results from finding and tracing a trope that you can focus on in a text or series of texts. For example, one such trope might be Walt Whitman’s recurrent images of hands (to denote touch, affect, even masturbation). Another example of a trope could be the recurrence of disabled and housebound figures in the fiction of William Faulkner.

(2) If you are undecided about what primary text or set of primary texts you wish to focus on, you might begin developing a topic by first identifying a strong general interest. Identify a genre you are drawn to: poetry, fiction, film, critical theory, belles lettres, autobiography, memoir . . . or some combination thereof.  Get a little more specific: Is there a particular national literature that interests you (U.S., British, Irish, Canadian, West Indian, South African)? A specific literature representative of an identity group (queer, black, women's, Chicano/a, Cuban American, Korean American, exile writers from the Indian Subcontinent)? A particular type or period of literary or cultural production (modernist, contemporary, Victorian, antebellum, post-bellum, colonial)? You can go through the same gambit of questions for filmic texts, cultural texts, philosophy, nonfiction prose . . . But you and only you can take that first step and identify what you like enough to devote (yes, devote) 10 to 12 months to reading, thinking, talking, and writing about. Reflecting on past courses you have had at university can be a good way of going about this stage of identifying your point of interest. Do not limit yourself to thinking only about English courses. Through cultural studies approaches to texts, there is a place at the English Studies table for critical analyses that intersect with what you might have been introduced to in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, LACS, foreign language studies, Africana Studies, and other Humanities and Social Sciences departments. If you have a sense of what your thesis might research, no matter how strongly or slightly you are leaning toward an idea, you should begin registering for courses in or outside the English Department whose topics will expose you to more primary texts and to scholarship about your interests. If a 500- or 600-level English graduate course offering could enrich your potential topic, consider registering for such a course in the Fall of your senior year. 

(3) Identify something that you are uncomfortable with, something that bothers you and that you think deserves critical attention. This issue could relate to literature. For instance, you may be irked by the equation of realism with historical fact or maybe by how literature is presumed to reproduce history or to represent a political voice. Thus, perhaps you are inclined to write a thesis about the relationship between history and literary representation. Alternately, you might be annoyed by something a bit more generally political or social in nature. For instance, you might be appalled by the current domestic or international political climate. So, perhaps you want to spend one year thinking, reading, and writing about neoliberalism, the so-called "war on terror," or the state's infractions of free speech. There is probably a project fit for an English Studies thesis in those irritations: a little discourse analysis, a little cultural studies, and you are well under way to a critical analysis of a cultural problem.

Once you have a sense of the direction you might want to go with your thesis, you will want to do what all interestingly minded, university educated, ambitious individuals should do: Read. Rather than rely on a shared reading list or syllabus, you should follow your bliss. If you dig modernist poetry, read around in some modernist poets. Pick up some Stevens, read some Pound, pore over Moore. If you are crazy about African-American literature, and you've read a lot of contemporary stuff but you want to read what was written before the twentieth century, do a little online research for names of black American authors from the nineteenth century. Pick up some of the magazine fiction by Pauline Hopkins; check out Paul Lawrence Dunbar; see what all the  fuss is about Charles Chesnutt’s Reconstruction novel The Marrow of  Tradition. If you feel like you really want to do something on representations of LGBTQ persons in the media, spend your summer watching classic films like Prick Up Your Ears to popular television shows like RuPaul's Drag Race.  Read filmmaker John Waters' books on queer trash cinema, science fiction novelist Samuel Delany's nonfiction on public sex in Times Square theaters, and activist Leslie Feinberg's classic cultural history Transgender Warriors

Don't limit yourself as to what might be possible texts from or about your general area of interest: Cast your proverbial net wide! Once you've identified a general interest, go to the library, browse local bookstores like Book House or Dove and Hudson, or do keyword searches on Amazon and order some interesting titles. The more you read, the more you can shape that reading into the core material informing your thesis. 

 

An Anecdote by Professor Keenaghan about His Undergraduate Honors Thesis

My undergrad thesis was on something I called "the literature for disaffected youth." Basically, I wrote on books about punk by punks for punks. My thesis focused on literary figures like Kathy Acker and Stewart Home, but I didn't just read and write on literature. I also wrote on porn, comic books, 'zines, and internet communities (back when Unix chat groups--forerunners to blogs--were the apex of internet technology). I took a general interest ("punk") and examined how various textual forms contribute to the creation of an identity at once at odds with and complicit with market logics. (You cannot just be punk; rather, you buy punk to become punk.) Everything was framed through critical theory (Deleuze and Guattari, de Certeau, Bourdieu, Gramsci, Hebdige) that I was introduced to not in my English classes but instead in my Sociology classes about underground, ethnic, and sexual cultures. I was interested in how the cultural theories I read in one field intersected with the textual and semiotic theories I read in my English classes. What happens when culture is not just read through its already existent texts but also is created by new and even resistant texts? I spent the summer before my thesis year doing what I normally did in the summer: I worked in a record store during the day and at a restaurant at night. At both jobs, I had enough down time to sit back with a book. I asked my friends about books, and I got turned on to quite a few new 'zines through a woman who managed a local bookstore. I read some more theory (actually reading Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus cover-to-cover for the first time). When September came, I walked into my advisor's office and said, "I want to write a thesis on punk, on how punk tries to use language and texts to resist mainstream, middle class ideals. And I think Deleuze's ideas about anti-capitalist resistance might help me." I signed up for classes that informed my thesis with related reading material, including a sociology of subculture course and an independent study on critical theory, sexuality, and media. When you come to the first session of English 498, you should be able to tell the Honors Director what your interest is and a general approach you might take to solve a related problem.

 

An Exercise for Identifying Your Interests and Developing a “Problem Question”

Sit down and write a paragraph or two wherein you identify a possible topic for your thesis project and begin the process of narrowing it down. The points you will want to identify before you write this exercise are:

(1) A subfield of English Studies that most interests you.  Cultural studies or literary studies would be the two main rubrics. Then, go a step further and identify a historical period (or periods) and a genre (literary, cultural, or media). For this example, we’ll say you are really drawn to modernist fiction authored roughly between 1910 and 1930 in Britain, during what is known as the "Edwardian Age"—whose literature includes books by authors such as E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, Wyndham Lewis, Elizabeth Bowen, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Ronald Firbank.

(2) A few general but especially pressing issues in this field that are of interest to you. Your thesis often will develop out of creating sophisticated links between related issues. For instance, you may be irritated or intrigued by the representation of women in Edwardian fiction. You also might be fascinated by how this fiction depicts struggles with economic changes.

(3) Any links you can articulate between your key points of interest. In our example, you might intuit that the fictive representation of women owes to shifts in gender roles accompanying economic or industrial shifts between the wars.

(4) A possible primary text or two. If you are working in cultural studies, you may specify a particular text/venue (such as AOL, Radio Martí, Democracy Now!) or you may specify a type of media (country music, comic books). For literary studies, specify which author(s) or what text(s) are of the most interest to you. In both fields, the more specific you are, the further along you are.  But don’t feel like you are obligated or tied down to those choices. Theses can change over time. 

For our shared example of the rest of the stages of this process of narrowing your ideas to a thesis worthy problem, let’s say you are drawn to Virginia Woolf’s novels, especially To the Lighthouse, and you’ve read A Room of One’s Own. Now, identify: 

(5) How the issue you identify (in step #3 above) plays out in the primary text. You’re intrigued by how Woolf's character Lily, the artist in To the Lighthouse, is a hanger-on in the bourgeois world of the vacationing Ramsay family. Could we say she has found her own room, in Woolf's sense of the term room from her classic feminist argument?

(6) Concepts or recurring “ironies” running through all of the steps above. For instance, how does Woolf throw into question our presumptions about identity by highlighting passivity, leisure, notions of belonging?  Does she challenge class-specific ideas about the artist? Or, consider the metaphorical “nugget of truth” and the fish swimming in water, two specific images from To the Lighthouse. How do those images work together, or against one another, in articulating an idea of women’s intellectual activity?     

Once you’ve sat down and thought through steps 1–6, try to formulate a problem question.  In our example, that might be: What does Woolf contribute to the fictional representation of women as cultural producers in the early twentieth-century? What does it mean for her female artist-figures to be withdrawn from, or on the borders of, other forms of production—such as industry? Your problem question should try to answer the following questions: Why should this project matter not just to you but also to a general reader? How does it allow your critical perspective and reading of this primary text to enter an ongoing conversation among scholars and citizens about a larger set of issues?

Your problem question is the concluding point that you want to reach for this exercise. Although it will develop out of a narrowing of your interests, it will also begin to open your project and provides a point where your thesis advisor may suggest ways of expanding your project. For instance, in our example, your thesis advisor might suggest you research women in the British economy and consider how that historical vantage frames other women writers’ address of cultural and literary production as an economic phenomenon. Like Woolf, the poet Mina Loy wrote a lot about the role of women in Edwardian British society, but she had a much different point of view. Woolf might have had an unconventional marriage and same-sex relationships with other women, but she did not go so far as to advocate female liberation through free love. But Loy did. Unlike Woolf, Loy wrote about how the institutions of marriage and motherhood create a condition of patriarchal dependency and intellectual bondage that only free love could remediate. She also insisted on women's difference from men, based on embodied senses of sexuality and gender that led to a qualitative difference between men's and women's writing. That opinion could be read as at odds with Woolf's ideas. Thus, to get a sense of the historical and aesthetic landscape surrounding feminist debates about women's creativity and social roles, in addition to Woolf you might also look at Loy’s manifestos and her poems about women’s sexuality and how reproductive liberties create economic and aesthetic freedoms that level the ground between men and women. Through such moves, you can expand the parameters for researching your problem while maintaining a focused and text-based means of exploring how different examples address your problem from a new angle. Thus, you will be able to generate the basis for a lengthier, sustained English Studies thesis.

 

General Timeline for Students Writing Their Theses

Note that actual dates will vary from year to year, and fixed deadlines may be set by the Honors Director or the Director of Undergraduate Studies that vary from what is listed on the timeline below.  This general schedule, though, is intended to provide prospective and incoming English Honors students with a rough idea of the process and timeline of thesis writing. 

The plan below represents a fairly conventional thesis structure of three chapters plus introduction (as well as apparatuses, such as table of contents, works cited/bibliography, illustrations). Typically an introduction (usually written last) is between 7 and 10 pages, and each main body chapter is between 10 and 15 pages. 

Note: For creative writing theses, a "chapter" might be a short story, a creative nonfiction essay, or a fascicle or cluster of poems. Like a main body chapter in a critical thesis project, such a creative unit would be between 10 and 15 pages. The "introduction" very often is a researched critical essay or a researched lyrical essay of 10 or 12 pages, in which the student author makes what is called a "poetics statement" that situates her original writing and the formal and conceptual decisions underlying her craft in relationship to other writers and/or a critically recognized literary tradition (such as ecopoetics, stream-of-consciousness fiction, the contemporary lyric poem). 

Fall (while registered for English 498)

late August and September:  Develop, refine, and propose an original thesis topic under the supervision of the Honors Director. Start researching your topic, adopt a note-taking system, and start developing an annotated bibliography.

early October:  Send an abstract about your project, along with an annotated bibliography, to at least two faculty members, a prospective faculty advisor and prospective second reader. (Note that your second reader might be involved with your project early on, but oftentimes a second reader might not give much feedback until the final draft.)

October:  Intensively research your topic, working under the supervision of your thesis advisor.

early November:  Continue developing your annotated working bibliography and a brief prospectus that gives a chapter-by-chapter “plan” for your project, as a whole.

November: Start drafting your first chapter and continue researching your other chapters. Regularly meet with your thesis advisor, and workshop your draft with the other thesis writers in English 498. A public presentation session will be held in November; at that event, you will share your in-progress work with an audience of your thesis advisors, next year's English Honors thesis writers, and English majors and minors in the Honors College.

mid-December: Submit to the Honors Director your first chapter and a progress report from your thesis advisor.

At the end of the Fall semester, you will be notified if you receive an “S” or “U” for English 498.  Only students who have successfully finished all of the requirements for English 498 and have been judged by their advisors as making sufficient progress on their theses will receive an "S" for English 498 and will be permitted to register for English 499 in the Spring. Students who receive a "U" will be disallowed from continuing with the Honors program. In order to graduate, students who receive a “U” for English 498 are responsible for all the usual requirements of English major.

The Winter Holiday

December and January: Start researching and writing your second chapter.

Spring (while registered for English 499)

If your project is eligible for any English Department or University awards, you should tell your thesis advisor that you are interested in being nominated. Supply her with a new brief abstract that summarizes your project and provides a working title. A sample from the project might be required, too. Usually nominations for University and English Department awards are due in late February or early March.

February: Draft and revise your second chapter. Start researching your third chapter. Write a brief revised abstract and select a revised chapter to qualify for a University or departmental undergraduate research award nomination.

March: Draft and revise your third chapter. Progress report from advisor due to Honors Director.

Early April: Write your introduction, complete your revisions, and finish all textual apparatuses (footnotes, works cited, table of contents, images, charts, etc.).

Mid-April: Submit your finished thesis to your advisor and your second reader.

Mid- to Late April: Present your thesis to a general audience in one or more public forums, such as a conference panel at an undergraduate research conference and/or an English Studies roundtable.

Last day of classes: Submit to the Honors Director your finished thesis, with any minor revisions (copyedits, formatting adjustments, etc.) requested by your advisor and/or your second reader.

Graduation weekend: On the day of the English Department's Recognition Ceremony, there will be an official recognition of your completed project and an opportunity to celebrate your achievement with your thesis advisor, other English faculty members, and your family and friends.

 

Checklist for the Final Draft of Your Thesis

All finished versions of Honors Theses should:

                (1) Be clean, unmarked copies;

                (2) Be laser printed on acid-free 8 ½ x 11 paper;

                (3) Be written in an appropriate academic font with appropriate margins (usually 1½ inches on the left to leave room for the binding, and then 1 inch on the top, bottom, and right sides);

                (4) Consistently use MLA format for all citations and for the bibliography (or, if your advisor prefers another format, such as Chicago, you can use that one);

                (5) Be spiral bound or press-bound (as can be done at a professional print shop);

                (6) Have a cover page with the following information (include verbatim what’s written in italics, and fill in the info where the brackets are):

                                [Thesis Title]

                                [Your Name]

                                Submitted for Honors in English

                                University at Albany, SUNY

                                Directed by [Your Advisor’s Name]

                                [Date Submitted]            

All finished theses will become part of the library in the Honors Lab (Humanities 373).  Although it is not required, you should consider making copies of your thesis for your primary advisor and your second reader, who have helped you develop your project.

In order to receive a grade for English 499 and thus be eligible to graduate, you must turn in the final and fully revised bound version of your thesis project by the last day of classes in the Spring or on an alternate date, as specified by the Honors Director.