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For complete information, please refer to the Brandeis University Bulletin.

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Honors

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Senior Creative Writing Honors Project Option:

One semester of ENG 96a or 96b, as an eleventh course required for the major.

Students interested in this option should consult with the Director of Creative Writing within the first month of the semester prior to the proposed study to discuss application guidelines and an adviser for the project, usually a senior faculty member the student has worked with before.

Normally, all four workshop requirements (including two from the 19/39a/79b/109/119 categories) will have been completed prior to the start of the project, and all but two of the literature/studio art requirements.

The project will culminate in a creative body of work of high standard smaller in scope than the book-length thesis. A 25-page chapbook of poetry, for example, or 50 pages of fiction: several short stories or a novella.

Recommendation for departmental honors will be made by the creative writing faculty to the English department based on the excellence of the student's record in the major, and the creative work as exemplified in the honors project.

Poetry or Fiction Thesis Option:

Eleven semester courses are required. The workshop requirement is reduced to a minimum of three semester Creative Writing Workshop courses (poetry, prose or both).  Two of the required workshops should be from the 109 or 119 categories. Also required is the satisfactory completion of two semesters of the Senior Creative Writing Thesis (ENG 96d).

ENG 96d (Senior Creative Writing Thesis)
The student will produce, under the direction of his or her adviser, a body of writing (usually a book of poems, collection of stories or a novel) of appropriate scope (two semesters). The poetry or fiction thesis option major also requires an essay on a tutorial bibliography: a list of eight to twelve books, chosen by the candidate in collaboration with the thesis adviser and/or the director of creative writing in the candidate's genre. The essay will be due at the end of the senior year, along with the thesis.  Further details on the annotated bibliography can be found below.

Admission to the poetry or fiction thesis option in creative writing is by application only. Admission will be decided by the creative writing faculty on completion by the student of ENG 10b, 11a or 11b, and at least one course from the 19, 39a, 79b, 109, or 119 directed writing courses.

Annotated Bibliography
Detailed instructions on completing the annotated bibliography can be found below.

Submitting Your Thesis
Upon the completion of your thesis, you must submit two bound copies, one to your advisor and one to your second reader. You must also submit two electronic copies. One should be e-mailed, as a PDF, to chaucer@brandeis.edu for departmental archiving, and the other, also a PDF, must be submitted to the library. Instructions for submitting your thesis to the library can be found here.

Applying for honors thesis option:

The deadline for 1st semester juniors to submit manuscripts for the thesis option will be in November. Date TBD
For mid-year students who will be 1st semester sophomores in spring, the deadline will be in April. Date TBD.

To apply:  submit 15-20 pages of poetry, or up to 35 pages of fiction, an informal transcript, and a brief (1 or 2 page) cover letter in which you describe a literary work that has influenced or inspired you and explain what you hope to achieve in writing a thesis. Submit as a single .doc/.docx attachment to chaucer@brandeis.edu.  Include your name, email, and preferred phone number. 

Recommendations for honors in the creative writing major will be made to the English department by the creative writing faculty, based on the student's work as exemplified by the senior thesis.

A student majoring in creative writing may double-major in English  or minor in English.

Annotated Bibliography: Guidelines for Poetry Thesis Students

Along with the book-length manuscript, all thesis students are required to produce an annotated bibliography. You should not think of it as a mere addendum to your thesis, but rather as the cornerstone. It is an opportunity for you to articulate what it is you aspire to in your writing, to think about the role literature has played in your life, and the role you hope to play some day in literature. The best bibliographies pull together the themes of your poetry collection and unify the thesis.

The bibliography is not an academic paper in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a thoughtful, well-constructed personal essay in which you discuss the books that have influenced your own writing. For the most part, the books you discuss should be ones you read while working on your thesis: collections of poems, anthologies and literary journals, perhaps a work of literary nonfiction. Works of fiction or other genres that traverse the boundaries of poetry may be included as well. Some might be books suggested by your advisor, other authors, and works you discovered on your own. You might reach back a little farther to include one or two books you read at a pivotal point in your life, books that made you want to write, made you feel you could write, books that inspired you in some way as an artist. This bibliography might be best thought of as a sort of field exam, an extension of the point of your own inquiry.

You should discuss a minimum of ten books in the essay, although you can certainly list many more in your bibliography. Typically, the bibliography is between 10 and 15 pages long.

The style can be similar to what it might be in a final paper for an academic course, if this is what you’re most comfortable with. Or, you might choose a more conversational style that reflects your personality. Whatever style or tone you choose, you must be clear, precise, focused, and detailed. This is a structured essay, not a rambling meditation. You must use quotes from the books to illustrate your points. Discuss specific technical matters that you learned from author X, and then choose a line, a stanza, or an entire poem that illustrates what you’re discussing: grammar, syntax, structure, form, and so on. Why was this work inspiring? What did you learn from author A? Some books might have inspired you to tackle certain theme, forms, or subject matter.

Most students write the bibliography toward the end of their second semester senior year, as their thesis is nearing completion. However, it would be most helpful to you to keep notes on your reading throughout the two years of the thesis process, as both a way of keeping track of what you read and as documentation of the trajectory of your interests as a writer over time.

Annotated Bibliography: Guidelines for Fiction Thesis Students

Along with the book-length manuscript, all thesis students are required to produce an

annotated bibliography. You should not think of it as a mere addendum to your thesis, but

rather as the cornerstone. It is an opportunity for you to articulate what it is you aspire to

in your writing, to think about the role literature has played in your life, and the role you

hope to play some day in literature. The best bibliographies pull together the themes of

the stories (if you’re working on a collection) and unify the thesis.

The “bibliography” is not an academic paper in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a thoughtful, well-constructed personal essay in which you discuss the books that have influenced your own writing. For the most part, the books you discuss should be ones you read while working on your thesis: collections of stories, novels, perhaps a work of literary nonfiction. Some might be books suggested by your advisor, other authors, and works you discovered on your own. You might reach back a little farther to include one or two books you read at a pivotal point in your life, books that made you want to write, made you feel you could write, books that inspired you in some way as an artist.

You should discuss a minimum of ten books in the essay, although you can certainly list many more in your bibliography. Typically, the bibliography is between 10 and 15 pages long.

The style can be similar to what it might be in a final paper for an academic course, if this is what you’re most comfortable with. Or, you might choose a more conversational style that reflects your personality. Whatever style or tone you choose, you must be clear, precise, focused, and detailed. This is a structured essay, not a rambling meditation. You must use quotes from the books to illustrate your points. Discuss specific technical matters that you learned from author X, and then choose a sentence or a passage that illustrates what you’re discussing: dialogue, point of view, setting, and so on. Why was this work inspiring? What did you learn from author A? Some books might have inspired you to tackle certain themes or subject matter.

Most students write the bibliography toward the end of their second semester senior year, as their thesis is nearing completion. However, it would be most helpful to you to keep notes on your reading throughout the two years of the thesis process, as both a way of keeping track of what you read and as documentation of the trajectory of your interests as a writer over time.