English majors have many opportunities to develop research projects while working closely with department faculty. The English Department offers a number of courses that can facilitate research projects, and also works with groups such as the Honors College and the Project Portal. Recent projects completed by our majors include studies of Italian horror film, Shakespeare, and 20th-century American fiction. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and your desire to excel.
The following is a list of courses offered by the department that can help a student develop or pursue their own individual interests.
These 3-credit courses allow students, upon approval, to work with faculty on various kinds of research projects, some arising out of student interests and some out of a professor's ongoing research. Students with research assistantships have traced the editorial history of Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps, analyzed the correspondence of Emily Dickinson, and helped a faculty member prepare an essay comparing contemporary responses to the early publications of the poets Marianne Moore and Mina Loy. Undergraduates are encouraged to contact individual faculty members about possible research opportunities in their fields of specialization.
English undergraduate students may pursue independent studies with faculty members who agree to work with them on a topic of their choice. Independent Studies range from 1-6 credits, depending upon the nature and scope of the project. These course give students the chance to pursue individual interests while working one-on-one with a member of the faculty. Past Independent Studies have included research on autobiography as a genre, a study of intersections of queer theory and Shakespeare studies, editorial work with the gender studies journal Speakeasy, and an exploration of African American vernacular in literary works.
Varying according to the supervisor involved, these three-credit courses allow undergraduates to do sustained work as interns. Students have in the past used this course opportunity to obtain internships at local newspapers such as The Buffalo News and Art Voice, to work at regional and national magazines such as Long Island Pulse and Maxim, and to pursue research programs at institutions such the Schwan Law Firm and Compeer Greater Buffalo. Students also have used writing internships while working to complete the Journalism Certificate Program. These internships allow students to hone skills in research and writing key to a successful career in journalistic fields.
Honors theses allow students to conduct sustained research in close consultation with a faculty member. The English Department offers an honors program for serious students who enjoy doing intensive work and would like the challenge and excitement of exchanging ideas and research with fellow students and instructors in a seminar setting.
Honors students write a Senior Thesis, which consists of independent work culminating in a paper of 30-35 pages. This might be a research essay or a form of creative work. English majors have written honors theses on such topics as pulp fiction, radical Islamophobia, comic books as literature, and colonialism in Irish literature, and on such key literary figures as Chaucer, Shakespeare, John Bunyan, Milton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Zora Neale Hurston, Sylvia Plath, and Edith Wharton.
To enter into the English Honors Program, students must have a 3.5 GPA within English or faculty recommendation; if the latter, students must have achieved a 3.5 GPA before graduation in order to graduate with honors. Honors students must complete one English Department honors seminar (3 credits), and one Senior Thesis. Students complete the honors thesis in one or two semesters (3-6 credits).
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