Procedural Matters and Deadlines
After signing in to AMST99d with your thesis adviser, your first formal task, as part of the Honors Colloquium, will be to compose a three- to four-page project description and a short bibliography of relevant works (the "Honors Proposal"). The Honors Proposal asks for a tentative title of your thesis, a short description of its focus and statement of its methodology and a list of research sources.
Obviously, in the course of your inquiry, the direction of your thesis and its argument may well change from this initial blueprint. The Honors Proposal statement is a rough signpost to your subject and tentative line of inquiry — where you are looking and what you think you're going to find there. It is typically due the last week of September of your senior year.
Throughout the fall semester, you will be working with your adviser — meeting perhaps once a week for an hour, more if need be. The bulk of your research, collection of notes, organization and the rough skeleton of your thesis should be hammered out during the fall semester.
Your work and diligence during the fall semester will probably determine the ultimate success or failure of your project. This is the time to make mistakes, go down blind alleys, reorder, rethink and fall back and punt. At this stage, even a radical reordering of your project is possible and maybe even necessary.
But by the end of the year, you should have the bulk of your research done, the overall shape of the project should be clear in your head and a good deal of it should be on paper in early draft form. Ideally, you should be able to give a chapter or two to your adviser for evaluation over winter break.
You should probably use the winter break to get ahead of the game. After all, this is the only time you will have to work exclusively on your thesis without the burden of your other coursework and the general madness of your last semester at Brandeis. Similarly, the two "vacation" breaks in the spring semester should be held for work on the thesis.
During spring semester, you will complete the final composition of your thesis. As a rough timetable, you should probably have completed a first draft by mid-March. The month of April should be devoted to crafting a final version, with particular attention to formal matters (grammar, expression and organization) and last-minute double checking of facts, printing arrangements, etc.
You will need to prepare four bound copies of your thesis — one each for yourself and the members of your committee. One of these copies will be kept on permanent file in the American studies department. Your thesis is typically due the first week of May in the spring semester of your senior year. After you turn in the final draft of the thesis, your adviser will decide if it is worthy of a defense.