Honors Program in the Humanities

Initiated in 1976, the Honors Program in the Humanities offers all qualified undergraduates the possibility to pursue an independent and often interdisciplinary research project, normally in their junior and senior years. Students can propose a topic in any humanistic discipline, including intellectual or cultural history, English and comparative literatures, women and gender studies, minority literatures and culture, film studies, anthropology, philosophy, etc. Past topics have also examined points of intersection between the arts and sciences, giving majors outside the humanities a chance to broaden and combine their studies through the program.

Requirements

  • Students must have above average performance in humanities courses.
  • The proposed project should show coherence, focus, and seriousness of purpose.
  • Each project must be sponsored by two faculty members, one of whom will be the primary adviser. One adviser may be external to the university.
  • Students must complete the research thesis and participate in the honors seminar for two years, the second of which must be the student’s senior year.

Application Process

Applications are accepted in the spring of the applicant’s sophomore year. Second-semester freshmen who plan to study abroad in their junior year or who already possess the necessary qualifications are also encouraged to apply.

Applications may be submitted by email or in hardcopy to Prof. Yi-Ping Ong. All applications must include:

  • A completed application form, including the name of at least one faculty adviser
  • Brief statement of purpose outlining the proposed thesis topic, with initial bibliography
  • Unofficial transcript of undergraduate course work

Required Course Work

Sophomore Year (optional)

Sophomores who plan to study abroad in their junior year and those who are ready to begin their honors research should consider participating in the honors seminar during their sophomore year.

Junior Year

  1. Two courses chosen from relevant offerings in the Department of Comparative Thought and Literature curriculum.
  2. A semester-long honors seminar for all students in the program, in which the general progress of the students’ writing and research will be discussed, and senior students will present work-in-progress reports.
  3. Optional independent study course on thesis project with one or both advisers.

Junior Agenda

  • September-October: Students should identify and meet with prospective faculty advisers. Two faculty advisers are required for the final thesis; at least one of these advisers must be a Department of Comparative Thought and Literature faculty member or affiliate. Once students have received a commitment from two advisers to supervise the thesis, they should begin to compose a comprehensive reading list in consultation with their advisers.
  • November-January: Using the reading list as a guide, students will conduct exploratory research in the field of their proposed project.
  • February-March: Students will present a three- to five-page prospectus, which formulates the central questions of the thesis, in the honors seminar.

Senior Year

  1. Independent study course in the spring semester dedicated to completing the thesis.
  2. Two courses taught by department faculty members or affiliates.
  3. Continued participation in the two-semester honors seminar with periodic “work-in-progress” reports and an oral presentation of the thesis research in the spring semester.

Senior Agenda

  • All year: Students will complete their theses in consultation with their advisers and continue to attend the honors seminar.
  • April-May: Students will present their final theses in the honors seminar.