Classics 485: Guided Research in Classics
All students who wish to earn honors in Classics must pre-qualify to enroll in and successfully complete CLAS 485 at a high level. This course is writing intensive and satisfies the general education goal of experiential learning; its goal is the production of a senior thesis.
To be clear, this course is recommended for all Classics majors regardless of major or overall GPAs, but it is required for students attempting honors in Classics.
Classics 485, and thus a senior thesis in Classics, is usually undertaken during the spring of one’s senior year (even for those srs. graduating in the fall). Sometimes a junior who is in good shape for fulfilling the requirements for honors in Classics (see the attached application forms) is allowed to enroll in Classics 485, especially if there is good reason for doing so early (e.g., a double major that would require writing two theses at once, or student teaching).
We advertise this to all Classics majors, not simply to the seniors and juniors., so non-seniors can start thinking about a senior thesis as early as possible in their academic careers. Although a senior thesis is not required for the major (unless you are attempting Honors in Classics), we highly recommend that you engage in one. A senior thesis is often the high point of a college career, offering the student the chance to use all of the tools acquired in the course of studying Classics in order to dig deeply into a topic of special interest.
How does the class work? Students in Classics 485 will meet only twice as a group during the semester. The first time will be during the first week of classes in the spring term, and the second an afternoon about halfway through the semester. Otherwise, students will meet individually with me at specific intervals throughout the semester so that I can return items handed in (proposal, bibliography, outline, chapters, etc.) with comments and suggestions. The thesis is, in general, a longer paper than you would ordinarily write for a course, but its minimum length is scarcely unattainable–25 pages of text, not counting notes, etc., and you would be devoting what would usually be class time, time for reading assignments, and time for studying for tests entirely to research and writing.
If you are interested, please be in touch with instructor of record for CLAS 485: first, to discuss any questions you might have, and second, during the Registration Period to complete the Permission-of-Instructor process so that you can register for Classics 485. You can check this page for more information as it becomes available.
Writing a senior thesis does require an approved thesis topic. Why not start finding that topic now, so that you can do background reading during the break between semesters? (Let me know what you are thinking of writing about. I will circulate the topic or proto-topic for approval among the other Classics faculty. One of the other faculty members will also serve as a second reader.) To help you think about how to choose and propose a topic for your senior thesis, please consult the splendid How to Choose & Propose a Research Topic by Pitts. Her handout will walk you through the steps of choosing and narrowing your topic.
The requirements for honors in Classics may be found here (Honors Program in Classics); you may also download two application forms for honors in Classics–one for those who declared their Classics major before the Fall of 2011 (when the major requirements changed: Honors in Classics Application-pre2011) and one for those who declared the major in or after the Fall of 2011 (Honors in Classics Application). Please feel free to come to the instructor of record for CLAS 485 and/or your major advisor with any questions you may have about your eligibility.
In the early fall of each academic year, there will be an interest and information meeting for students who are interesting in writing an honors thesis. Check the departmental calendar for more information.