Undergraduate Honors

Honors in Comparative Literature

Students seeking honors must apply to the honors program in Comparative Literature or Comparative Arts in the spring of their junior year.  Students must submit an application to the program no later than April 15.  Admissions decisions will be made by the Undergraduate Committee in Comparative Literature following the submission of grades for the spring semester.  Students must achieve at least a 3.7 GPA in the major to be admitted to the program.

There are three tracks in the honors program: Honors by Course Work, Honors by Thesis, and, for students in Comparative Arts, Honors by Creative Project.   All three tracks require 33 units of course work in Comparative Literature, six more than the minimum required for the degrees Comparative Literature or Comparative Arts.

Admission to the honors program does not guarantee the award of departmental honors as that award depends on performance in the program.

Eligibility for Latin Honors requires an overall GPA of at least 3.65 maintained through the sixth semester.

Honors by Course Work

Students seeking honors by Course Work in Comparative Literature will complete, in addition to Comp Lit 3050, 9 courses in Comparative Literature at the 300- and 400-levels; three of these courses must be at the 400-level.  With permission of the DUS, the student may substitute up to 6 units of appropriate foreign literature courses at the 300- or 400-level. 

Students seeking honors by Course Work in Comparative Arts will complete, in addition to Comp Lit 313E, 7 courses in Comparative Literature at the 300- and 400-levels; three of these courses must be at the 400-level.  With permission of the DUS, the student may substitute up to 6 units of appropriate foreign literature courses at the 300- or 400-level. 

The honors capstone for the Course Work track is the completion of a synthetic essay of roughly 1600 words reflecting on how the three 400-level courses informed one another.  That essay should be accompanied with 20 pages of critical writing, compiled from one to three papers written for 400-level courses, revised to represent what you regard as your best work in Comparative Literature.  The capstone work should be submitted by the end of March in the student’s senior year.

Honors by Thesis

Students seeking honors by thesis will submit a thesis prospectus, as part of their application to the honors program, by April 15 of their junior year.  The prospectus is roughly a 3-page document; it describes the research project (framed, ideally, as a problem to be solved), articulates the ways in which the project draws on comparative methods, and includes a provisional bibliography.  Students should name two possible mentors with whom they have consulted about their thesis project.  Admission to the thesis track depends upon approval of the thesis project by the Undergraduate Committee.

Senior thesis students will enroll in the IPH-Comp Lit thesis workshop in the fall of the senior year.  It is customary for students to complete a draft of roughly two-thirds of the thesis by the end of the fall semester.

A second version of the thesis prospectus, signed by the thesis mentor, should be submitted to the Comparative Literature office at the end of the first week in September.

Theses should be 50 to 100 pp. long; they should follow either the MLA or Chicago Style sheets.  Completed drafts will be due on 2/21; directors will return drafts by 3/1; theses will be submitted to three readers, one of whom will be the thesis mentor, and another of whom will be the DUS, by 4:00 PM on the Monday after spring break.  The oral defense will be held roughly 2 weeks after submission. 

We strongly urge all thesis students in Comparative Literature and Comparative Arts to participate in the Arts & Sciences Research Symposium, submitting posters rather than presenting papers, since posters reliably reach the largest audience.

Honors by Creative Project

Comparative Arts students seeking honors by Creative Project will submit a project prospectus, as part of their application to the honors program, by April 15 of their junior year.  The prospectus is roughly a 3-page document; it describes the project and articulates the ways in which the project responds to comparative methods and to traditions of artistic practice; a preliminary bibliography should be included.  Students should name two possible mentors with whom they have consulted about their thesis project.  Admission to the thesis track depends upon approval of the project by the Undergraduate Committee.

A second version of the project prospectus, signed by the project mentor, should be submitted at the end of the first week in September.

Creative projects may be written (creative writing, translation) or take the form of a performance or exhibit, a visual portfolio or montage, or a link to an online creation.  They will be complemented by a theoretical and/or critical reflection on the project of roughly 20-30 pp.  Drafts of the written component of the project will be due on 2/21; directors will return drafts by 3/1.  The written component will be submitted to three reviewers, at least one of whom is a member of the Comparative Literature committee, by 4:00 PM on the Monday after spring break.  The creative portion of the project should also be ready to circulate or display by this time.  Performances or exhibits must open before the end of March.  The oral defense will be scheduled to coincide with the performance or exhibit.

Recent Thesis Topics

Comparative Literature:

  • The Scandal of Translating a Hybrid Poet: The Foreign Presence in the Works of Yi Sang
  • Glitches, Mistranslations, and Errors: Disruptions of Official Memory in Contemporary Argentine Cultural Production
  • Beyond the Border: A Commemorative Approach to Contemporary Women’s Fiction about Migration between Morocco and Spain

Comparative Arts:

  • (Im)possible Spaces: Invisible Cities in an Age of Urban Crisis
  • The 'Racist' Camera: Photographic Technologies and the Aesthetic Politics of Lensing Skin Colors
  • Local Communities, Cross-Cultural Connections: Jazz-Flamenco in Spain and El Sistema in Venezuela