The senior thesis is the core of the Honors degree in Classical Studies. If you are thinking about writing a thesis but you’re not sure whether it’s a good choice for you or what the process entails, read through the Honors Thesis Guidelines and then make an appointment to see the Classical Studies Honors Advisor: Prof. Richard Janko (email: email@example.com).
The FAQs below may answer your initial questions.
- Should I write a thesis?
- What additional requirements are there for Honors in Classical Studies?
- May I write a thesis even though I’m not in the LSA Honors Program?
- How and when should I get started on the thesis?
- What topics have Classical Studies students chosen to research?
- What have Classical Studies students said about the thesis experience?
- Should I write a thesis?
Should I write a thesis?
A thesis is for you if you want to acquire a deep knowledge of a particular topic in your major, you enjoy conducting research that combines original interpretation of primary sources and responding critically to current scholarship, and you want to present your findings in a written work of substantial argumentation, complexity, and length.
A good thesis is the product of passion for one’s subject, intellectual rigor, and sustained work. It’s also an opportunity to grow intellectually: you will draw on the knowledge and skills you have gained in your major in a richer way than writing a paper for a single course allows; also, you will experience the intellectual excitement of making an original contribution to the field.
The thesis process culminates in an oral defense of your written work and a presentation of your findings at the Classical Studies Undergraduate Research Symposium.
What additional requirements are there for Honors in Classical Studies?
While admission to the Honors major is a formal process in some departments, in Classical Studies it is informal, typically involving a discussion with the departmental Honors Advisor about whether you can meet some extra requirements. In addition to the thesis, the requirements include a 3.5 concentration GPA (the LSA requirement is 3.4) and, depending on your major in Classical Studies, a combination of language proficiency and/or additional coursework. A 1-credit research methods course, CLCIV 480.002, offered only in the Fall term, is also required; however, if you participate in the LSA Honors Summer Fellows Program (see below), you will be exempted from this course. In the Fall term of your thesis year, you will be asked to submit a short Thesis Prospectus.
May I write a thesis even though I’m not in the LSA Honors Program?
Yes! Any Classical Studies major may write a thesis so long as they meet the requirements. You don’t need to have been in the LSA Honors Program prior to starting a thesis. By choosing to write a thesis, you become a part of the LSA Honors Program, at which point you will have the chance to participate in its programming, funding opportunities, and fellowships. For example, if you need to cover the cost of travel to a museum collection, you can apply for an LSA research grant. If you want to join a community of thesis writers engaged in research across fields, you can apply in your junior year for the LSA Honors Summer Fellowship. If you want writing support, LSA Honors and the Sweetland Writing Center offer writing workshops and write-a-thons in the Winter term.
How and when should I get started on the thesis?
You should meet with the Classical Studies Honors Advisor (see first paragraph above) early in the Winter term of your junior year to indicate your interest in writing an honors thesis and to review the additional requirements for the Honors degree in your major. In preparation for this meeting, read the Honors Thesis Guidelines (see first paragraph above) and bring one or more ideas about topics you would like to research. By the end of the Winter term, ideally, you should have a topic and a Thesis Advisor. By the start of Fall term, you should have a good research question.
What topics have Classical Studies students chosen to research?
Research ideas can come from a variety of sources, including a course you’ve taken or a passion you have for a given topic. As an interdisciplinary field, Classical Studies offers a wide range of possibilities for topics. To get a sense of the range, browse through some of the completed theses, which are housed in the departmental library, in 2163 Angell Hall. Also, talk with the faculty and graduate students in Classical Studies about your interests; these conversations can provide direction and help you shape and sharpen your ideas.
What have Classical Studies students said about the thesis experience?
“My senior honors thesis was a great introduction to the challenges of larger research questions and proved that I not only had the stamina to take on a project of such magnitude, but I was also capable of asking interesting research questions.” ~ Samantha Breecher, BA 2018
“[In an immunology research lab], while investigating lipid mediators of inflammation in the context of sepsis and ARDS, I was able to use the skills I learned writing my thesis to publish several journal articles… Of my academic endeavors, I am still most proud of my time in the Classics department and the completion of my honors thesis. These experiences are a core part of my identity that will forever frame how I care for patients and approach my career.” ~ Braden Engstrom, BA 2016
“My undergraduate Honors Thesis on genre and narrative in Herodotus provided crucial experience in long-term research projects. The insights which emerged from conversations with my thesis advisors…have continued to inspire my research.” ~ Jonas Sese, BA 2017
Shannon Burton, a Classical Archaeology major and 2020 graduate blogged about her thesis experience: https://medium.com/@shanburt.