Creative Writing Capstone

Synthesizing the range of soft and hard skills developed in programs offered by the Department of English is the senior capstone or thesis.

Students create a final artifact as both a testament to their accrued body of knowledge that also provides a portfolio of transferable skills bridging them into professional lives as writers, artists, scholars, editors, and content creators. We welcome conventional and multi-modal theses, as well as interdisciplinary projects facilitating double-majors.

The following offers a general guide for the scale and scope of a project a student might expect to complete. Ultimately, the expectations of projects are the purview of individual faculty mentors as is appropriate for the student’s field, area, or genre. Completion of the thesis project consists of three elements.

First, students need to complete the following course sequence in order to prepare, revise, and complete their project, earning a C- or better in all:

  • In the Spring of Junior year, ENGW 305: Research Methods in English (4 credits)
  • In the Fall of Senior year, ENGW 497: Senior Seminar in Creative Writing (2 credits)
  • In the Spring of Senior year, ENGW 498: Senior Seminar in Creative Writing (2 credits)

Second, students develop, compose, and revise a project appropriate to their discipline under the mentorship of one or more faculty members in the English Department. The structures of mentorship vary by instructor and from year-to-year, depending on the number of students and faculty available. Please consult with the Department Chair.

Finally, students exhibit their work as part of a formal twenty-minute presentation to take place during the campus-wide Senior Projects Day, typically held the third week in April. Note that some projects may include performances or other elements disseminated in other venues and time in the academic calendar. Students are evaluated in this presentation by their mentor as well as by an outside faculty member.

Capstone Options

There are two elements comprising the thesis for Creative Writing majors. Students develop a body of work in their selected genre of specialization, complemented by a critical introduction to that portfolio.

Creative Work

Projects may be multi-modal or mixed genre as approved by faculty. It is recommended that students complete the advanced workshop in their selected form before pursuing that capstone:

  • Drama. Devise, compose, and arrange one or more staged readings of approximately 70 to 90 pages. These may take the form of a stage play, screenplay (film), teleplay (television episodes), or multi-modal performance-based work. These projects are done in collaboration with Theatre or Media Arts faculty where students must have taken THEA 380 and/or MEDA 332, and have approval in advance from the relevant department chairs. 

  • Poetry. Compose a selection of approximately 10 to 15 interrelated pieces. Length will vary. To demonstrate coherence of the collection, this thesis might comprise work sharing a technique or metrical form, respond to a specific archive, or engage with a central, specific theme or question.

  • Prose. Compose approximately 30 pages of narrative prose as either a single work, or as two or more interrelated pieces. These include creative non-fiction essays (1 to 3 pieces), the prospectus and first chapter of a novel, fully-contained novella, or short story collection (2 to 3 interrelated pieces).

Critical Introduction

Like the critical edition project for the Literature major, all creative writing capstones need be accompanied by a critical introduction of approximately 10 pages including, but not limited to, the following elements:

  • Situate the artifact, draft, or extract within the larger project or final genre.
  • Rationale of work’s participation in discrete aspect of contemporary literary marketplace, including unique and salable intervention.
  • Project professional venues for future dissemination (presses, magazines, et cetera).
  • Describe thematic, formal, and/or ideological concerns of the work as a whole.