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Graduate Students in English
The Writing Center Associates Program
This program combines a Master's Degree in English and American Literature with an emphasis on the teaching of writing and composition. The program is designed for educators at all levels, but especially those planning careers in secondary or collegiate education. Selected Writing Center Associates team-teach writing workshop courses with professors in the English department.
More detailed information is available through the English Department.
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Research Aid Literature | Rhetoric & Composition
Professional Organizations Literature | Rhetoric & Composition
Graduate Student Testimonials
started planning my orals in July before my second year, which I think is
probably the latest you would want to start thinking about a topic. It
helps some if you have a general field idea in mind of what you plan to write
about for your thesis, and use that to help guide the scope of your orals.
Once I decided on my thesis topic, planning for that research helped shape the
scope of my orals topic. The orals topic is a bigger, broader survey of
the knowledge you might need to write your thesis, so for me it involved an
in-depth study of the particular field of literary theory I hoped to use in
writing my thesis: reader response criticism.
I also used my thesis topic to help me choose an advisor for the orals. My thesis advisor became my orals committee chairperson, and she helped guide me toward some of the sources I needed to focus on for my orals. Some of the sources were things I had already read--which will probably be true for almost everyone, because the topic you pick is probably something you are interested in and have studied in the past. I didn't actually start reading until September, which meant I had about 3 months to complete the process. If at all possible, I would recommend deciding on a topic and creating your list of sources (for your prospectus) over the summer--this is something you can do over e-mail if your advisor is willing to respond and give feedback that way. By the time you return for the fall, you are well underway with a complete bibliography. Start reading as early as you can--either over the summer or fall semester.
I did my orals in December, which gave me enough time to read everything on my list, but not enough time to process and plan for the presentation part of the oral exam. I would recommend giving yourself a few weeks from the time when you finish reading everything on your list until the time of your orals to reread, review your notes, and plan your presentation. -- Kristen Vibbert, ‘04, Thesis in Children’s Literature (Harry Potter)
Perhaps the best advice that I received from my thesis advisor was to divide the paper up into stages. Since the thesis typically runs from about 40-80 pages, it seems easier and less daunting to view the project as writing three 20-page papers instead of one large thesis. My advisor suggested that I start in the middle of the thesis, writing the three body chapters first and allowing the introduction and conclusion to develop from that work. This strategy was helpful because it enabled me to rework parts of my introduction and framework sections based on where my middle chapters took my project.
It can be difficult to initiate the writing process and to motivate yourself to continue writing until you have a completed draft. I found it necessary to locate a working environment that would force me to work on my thesis. I quickly eliminated my apartment as a writing space because the TV, DVDs and such would provide easy distractions that would allow me to put off writing the project. I chose the grad lounge because, while the conversations and the internet connections might distract me, it would be easier for me to work through those aspects than my apartment distractions. I allotted myself about 4-5 hours on Tuesdays and forced myself to stay in the grad lounge working on my thesis until the weekly page requirement was completed.
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