Comparative Literature

Honors Program

Honors in Comparative Literature

Students may earn honors in the concentration by successfully presenting a thesis, for the preparation of which they will normally enroll in COLT 1990 in either or both semesters of their senior year.  These courses may not be used to satisfy the standard requirements for a concentration. Honors candidates must also normally earn more A's than B's in courses taken as part of the Comparative Literature concentration (or receive the equivalent faculty evaluation on a Course Performance Report for courses taken S/NC).

The Honors Thesis

Students should generally begin thinking about an Honors Thesis in their third year of course work. Students who plan to go abroad in the junior year are advised to give some thought to these matters before leaving; they may also want to write to certain professors from abroad, indicating their potential thesis interests. Optimally, it may be possible to devise a summer reading list for thesis research, so that the project already has some momentum when senior year starts.

The Department expects students to have two readers for the honors thesis, and one of them should normally have some connection with the Comparative Literature department. In addition to discussing possible topics and directions for the thesis, students will want to discuss with the faculty person(s) procedural and technical matters as well. In particular, it is necessary to agree on deadlines for completing readings and submitting drafts, on the amount of consultation that is expected, etc. It is important that all parties have a clear sense of these matters.

 Students planning to do honors theses in the department must submit the titles and abstracts of their projects as well as the names and signatures of their directors and second readers by October 15. 

Most students require two semesters to plan and complete an Honors Thesis. A substantial portion of writing on the thesis must be completed and submitted to the advisor(s) during the Fall semester. The second semester is devoted to completing the writing, and a full draft of the entire thesis must be submitted by March 15.

 The final complete version of the thesis must be submitted by April 15. Students should submit one copy to each reader and one electronic and one hard copy of the thesis to the Department. Honors in Comparative Literature is granted upon positive recommendation by the thesis advisors.

The honors thesis is usually between 50 and 100 pages long. It is anticipated that a significant amount of research will go into this project. Students are expected normally to choose a topic that involves work in each of the foreign literatures they have presented for their degree; such foreign materials are to be dealt with (i.e., read and cited) in the original language, even though the thesis itself is generally written in English. It is also anticipated that the project itself is to be of a comparative nature. In some cases, it may be possible for a student to devise a thesis project that meshes the thesis investigation with creative writing.

Important Dates & Documents

Useful Writing and Editing Tools

How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper, by Charles Lipson