The Senior Honor Thesis at Coe College is an independent capstone experience that extends and deepens the student’s work in the major. It draws on the coursework the student has done in the major and on the writing, research, and analytical skills developed throughout the major.
The Senior Honors Thesis in Creative Writing is a polished manuscript of significant length and scope, generally a collection of poems or short stories, a play, a screenplay, a novella, or a major portion of a novel with a complete outline.
Approximate Length Guidelines: a poetry collection will generally be the length of a chapbook, 25-30 pages; a short story collection or novella should be approximately 30,00 words; a play or screenplay should be a minimum of 60 pages and include a detailed outline of the rest of the script; and a portion of a novel should be approximately 30,000 words and include a detailed outline of the rest of the novel. More significant than length is concision, coherence, and polish.
In addition, an exploratory essay of approximately 3,000 words should introduce the creative work. This essay should investigate ideas of literary and critical influence, themes, cultural context, and future ambitions for the student’s creative work. The essay should include significant discussion of works that have been instrumental in the writing of the honors thesis manuscript, situating the honors thesis in relation to its antecedents and drawing out their significance in helping to inspire or shape the thesis. The works may be in any genre, including novels, collections of stories, poems, plays, screenplays, and critical and/or theoretical works, and should be chosen in consultation with the thesis advisor. All works discussed in the exploratory essay should be included in a bibliography (in MLA format) appended to the exploratory essay. There is no minimum number of works that must be included in the bibliography, and the number of works will vary from project to project, but the essay and bibliography should demonstrate a substantial engagement with an appropriate and well-chosen range of creative and/or critical sources.
Students who successfully defend a senior honors thesis receive Departmental Distinction at graduation. They are also eligible for the two highest levels of Latin honors, magna and summa cum laude, depending on their GPA.
To qualify for Departmental Distinction in any major, a student must have a GPA of 3.2 overall and 3.5 in courses counting toward the major. (Minors are not eligible for Departmental Distinction.)
Qualified Creative Writing majors working on thoroughly revised manuscripts that demonstrate the highest level of growth and accomplishment in Manuscript Workshop (CRW 505) may apply to the English Department to submit a senior thesis for Departmental Distinction. The honors thesis must be work that has been rigorously workshopped in the past, and is in most cases a further revision of the manuscript worked on during Manuscript Workshop.
By Thanksgiving Break, choose a thesis advisor (a member of the creative writing faculty). In consultation with your thesis advisor, prepare a thesis proposal according to the guidelines below. Submit the proposal to the English Department Chair no later than the end of the first week of Spring Term.
Minimum Requirements for Having a Senior Honors Thesis Proposal Accepted
Preparing the Creative Writing Senior Honors Thesis for Defense
Public Reading from the Creative Writing Senior Honors Thesis
All Creative Writing majors will give a senior reading; the major is not certified as complete until this takes place. Honors thesis students typically do this during the Student Research Symposium or, alternately, at another date in the spring after the defense.