English and American Literatures majors conduct literary research in almost all their courses, as most require two or more papers involving deep reading and analysis of literary works. In ENAM 0205 "Introduction to Literary Theory," all students learn to use a variety of theoretical approaches to reading, and in Advanced Seminars (400-level courses) they apply one or more of those theoretical approaches to produce a long essay using a variety of historical and critical sources.
Students may also pursue research projects independently under the supervision a faculty member by applying to do an ENAM0500 project in any semester.
All of this is designed to prepare every ENAM major to do independent research in the form of a senior thesis. While some qualified students elect to do creative writing for their senior work, many others undertake a research project resulting in a critical thesis of between about 30 and 35 pages. Students intending to apply to graduate school in literature should write a senior research thesis.
Senior theses take on a variety of subjects, ranging from discussion of a single author or work to a broad, thematic topic concerning several authors or works. Examples of theses from the past are available in the department office, and a title list of past projects is available as well.
Individual faculty members also have the opportunity to hire a student research assistant to assist them in their scholarly work. Collaborative research and writing projects sometimes grow from these arrangements.