Senior Thesis Projects

Writing a Senior Essay in Comparative Literature


What is the Senior Essay:

The senior essay or thesis in Comparative Literature gives students the opportunity to pursue an independent writing project during their senior year. This project must reflect their familiarity with a particular field of literature and demonstrate their skills in interpreting literary texts through sustained and reflected comparison.

This final part of the major entails a juxtaposition of at least two literary texts representing at least two different languages and cultural traditions. Research begins in the fall of the senior year with choosing suitable primary sources, helpful secondary literature and theoretical concepts in order to develop a topic for the senior essay. From early on, senior students work with two adviosrs, each of them representing the respective language/tradition. Variations thereof (for exampld, if one othe languages is English) should be discussed with the Direcotr of the Program.


Student Learning Outcomes and Criteria for Assessment

The learning outcomes of the Capstone Experience are based on the sustained and reflected efforts to compare at least two literary texts in a Senior Essay. Specifically, it is defined by the ability to read, understand, speak and write at least one foreign language; the ability to establish a dialogical relationship between at least two languages, literatures and cultural traditions; the readiness to appreciate and reflect upon world literature in its multilingual richness and diversity; the methodical skill to compare and contrast significant differences and similarities among literatures of at least two different cultural traditions, including non-American and non–European traditions. The criteria, procedures, and analysis standards for assessment of the Senior Essay in Comparative literature are unique, rigorous and specific.

Read more specific information about Criteria for Assessment.


What does the Senior Research Requirement entail?

The senior research in Comparative Literature has four main components: a PROSPECTUS; a SENIOR ESSAY; a one-semester SENIOR SEMINAR, including a final oral PRESENTATION of the thesis. Students use the seminar to complete the Senior Essay in the spring semester of their senior year (September). The writing process begins with defining the project and doing research during the fall semester, culminating in a short prospectus to be submitted in November.