Required Assignments

The following are brief descriptions of the assignments you are required to complete in order to earn a 3.0 in this seminar. Be sure to use the links below to see the full instructions for each assignment before beginning work.

If you plan to aim for a grade higher that 3.0, you’ll also need to complete a set of Elevation Assignments. See the Syllabus for full details.

Framing the Thesis

In the first weeks of the semester, you’ll complete a series of assignments to help you think through your basic plans for the thesis. You can find the formal requirements for your thesis, which you’ll write in the spring, here.

Thesis Idea Post (9/2)

Before the first day of class, you’ll post your initial idea for the thesis: a topic, author, or question you’re interested in investigating, and what drew you to that concept. You’ll also post a brief video to our Flipgrid, explaining your thesis idea to the rest of the seminar and the departmental faculty.

Questions Please (9/16)

Compose an updated description of your thesis project, focused on the questions your research seeks to answer.

Thesis Portrait (10/7)

Compose an expanded portrait of your thesis project, describing its central concerns and questions, identifying key secondary works or theoretical methodologies, and outlining remaining issues or challenges.


Hosting a Thesis Workshop

Half of one day during the middle weeks of the semester will be exclusively yours. You’ll guide the class through a conversation tied to your thesis. You’ll assign primary and secondary readings, host an online discussion, and be in charge of class for around an hour. During that time, you’ll present your ideas and progress to the class, but you’ll also need to design structures to enable the rest of the class to participate, through guided conversation, writing, group work, or other modes.

Symposium (12/2 and 12/9)

During the last weeks of the semester, you will present your thesis to the class and the faculty. This will be a formal talk about your thesis research, with a question and answer session.


Following up on your “Lay of the Land” assignment, you’ll progress through a set of increasingly detailed exercises in compiling a bibliography of readings essential to your thesis work.

Lay of the Land (9/9)

Formulate key phrases and terms related to your thesis, and use various online research tools to start compiling a bibliography of secondary readings.

Preliminary Bibliography (9/23)

Create brief summary evaluations of two key secondary sources.

Categorized Bibliography (10/21)

Organize your expanding bibliography (which should include at least 20-30 primary and secondary sources by this point) into categories, and add brief notes that explain your system of categorization.

Annotated Bibliography (11/18)

Expand your Categorized Bibliography with summary evaluations of each source.

Writing Into Your Thesis

Over the course of the semester, you’ll write short drafts of two sections of your thesis. You’ll share each of these with a writing partner and discuss it in detail during class. You’ll then pick one of these drafts to revise.

Writing Into Your Thesis 1-3 (9/30, 10/28, 12/2)

Write a 4-5 page section of your thesis. NOTE: WIYT 3 is now an elevation assignment, due alongside your Portfolio.

Portfolio (12/16)

At the end of the semester, you will collect your thesis work and submit it to Prof. Farmer, your thesis advisor, and your second reader. Much of this work will already be finished by this point in the term, but you’ll be adding several new items as well.

Literature Review

Compose a short essay that sumarizes and evaluates prior research on your topic.

Research Narrative

Compose a brief narrative that describes how you came to your thesis topic, the progress you’ve made so far, and the key challenges you foresee in completing the project.

Thesis Outline

Create a draft table of contents of your thesis.

First Paragraph

Compose a draft of the opening paragraph of your thesis.