Independent Projects

Independent Reading Projects

The Independent Reading Project (IRP) allows students a unique opportunity to pursue sustained research and writing independently across the academic year and, under faculty supervision, the following summer.                                                        

  • The topic is proposed by the student and must be extension and intensification of work in a field the student has studied and, shown good understanding of, in a Bread Loaf course; the student must have earned an A- or higher in that course.
  • The reading and research must approximate what is ordinarily in a Bread Loaf course, in scope and nature, and may include or cross any of the disciplines—literature, pedagogy, creative writing—that the Bread Loaf curriculum covers. Pedagogical projects may draw on BLTN or other classroom initiatives as the subject of the IRP and may include lesson plans in an appendix to the final project, but the centerpiece of the IRP must be pedagogical or curricular research, presented in an analytic essay. (For theater arts projects, see Independent Summer Projects in Theater Arts below.)
  • The IRP will culminate in a critical essay or creative portfolio of roughly 8,000 words.
  • The IRP carries the same credit and costs the same as a one-unit Bread Loaf course (one half the tuition fee). Students may count the IRP as one of their two courses in the summer they bring the project to completion, or, if their academic record is strong (all grades B+ or higher), they may apply, through the associate director, to take the IRP as a third course (an overload).
  • For MA students, the IRP can fulfill any of the distributional group requirements; MLitt students may use the IRP as the culminating project for their degree (see Degree Programs: MLitt project.).
  • Students will register for the IRP when they register for the next summer's courses.

The process for pursuing an IRP is as follows: 

  • Summer 1. Students will construct a proposal for the IRP, in consultation with a faculty member in the field ordinarily but not necessarily the professor in the course on which the IRP builds.
    • The proposal (1–2 pages) should consist of a description of the topic, key questions, and approach to be pursued; explanation of how the project builds on Bread Loaf course work; and a full bibliography of primary and secondary texts to be explored. Students proposing an IRP in creative writing must include with their proposal a 10–15 page creative writing sample in the relevant genre(s).
    • A faculty member must approve the final version of proposal: students should give faculty 5–7 days to vet the proposal (and, where applicable, the creative writing sample).   
    • A hard copy of the proposal, with the faculty member’s signature, must be submitted to the Bread Loaf campus office on or before the final day of classes. An electronic copy should also be sent to Karen Browne in the main office. (Creative writing samples should be submitted with the proposal.)
    • After the session ends, the associate director will review the proposal, and the student’s grades and evaluations, and contact the student in early fall, approving or rejecting the proposal or requesting revisions. 
  • Academic year: Once the project has been approved by the associate director, the student will pursue the reading, research, and writing independently throughout the academic year.
    • Though there is no faculty advising during the research year, the associate director is always on call to answer questions.
    • A first polished (not rough) draft of the written project must be submitted to the Bread Loaf office on March 15; electronic copy is preferred.
    • The associate director will send the written project to a faculty IRP advisor, ordinarily someone teaching at the campus the student is planning to attend. In choosing a campus, when possible students should select a site where there is at least one faculty member in the field. The IRP advisor might or might not be the same as the faculty member who originally approved the proposal. 
    • The IRP advisor will review the project; his/her comments will be sent to the student within a month; the student will then revise the draft and have a second version ready by the first class day of the summer session she/he next attends.
  • Summer 2
    • The student will submit a second draft of the project to the IRP advisor, with an electronic copy sent to Karen Browne, by the first day of classes.
    • The student and the IRP advisor will meet in the first week of the session to create an agenda for the completion of the work, setting a schedule for meetings and due dates of subsequent drafts. IRPs must be completed by the last day of classes, but are usually finished sooner.
    • Once the written project is completed, the IRP advisor will assign the project a letter grade and submit a narrative evaluation of the project to the Bread Loaf office.

Independent Summer Projects in Theater Arts

Students who would like to pursue independent study in the field of theater arts and whose projects require completion on site (for demonstration of directing, acting, or such) may propose an Independent Summer Project (ISP).

  • As with the IRP, the topic of the ISP will be designed and proposed by the student, and must be grounded on a course (ordinarily in theater arts) in which the student has earned an A- or higher; it should carry the weight, in research and execution, of a regular Bread Loaf course. 
  • The ISP carries the same credit equivalent as a one-unit Bread Loaf course and also costs the same (one half the tuition fee).
  • The ISP must be undertaken at a Bread Loaf campus (usually Vermont) where courses in theater arts are being offered.

The process for pursuing an ISP is as follows:

  • Students must submit a 1–2-page proposal to the Bread Loaf office (the coordinator of the campus they are planning to attend) by February 15 prior to the summer in which the project will be undertaken. 
    • The proposal should consist of a detailed description of the theater project, its goals and methods, along with a bibliography of primary and secondary texts that will ground the study. 
    • Students should consult with appropriate faculty in advance (the summer prior), since Bread Loaf faculty are not available during the academic year. In most cases, that faculty member will serve as the project advisor.
  • The Bread Loaf director or associate director will review and approve or reject the proposal by March 1, in consultation with the director of the Bread Loaf program in theater and/or appropriate faculty who will serve as the ISP advisor. Once the proposal has been approved, the student should register for the ISP.
  • Although the culmination of the project will take place in the summer, the student should undertake as much of the research on the project as possible in advance.
  • During the summer session, the advisor will consult with the student on the project, and the student will present the work before the final class day. The ISP advisor will assign the project a letter grade and submit a narrative evaluation of the project to the Bread Loaf office.

Oxford Independent Tutorials

Students with an exceptional academic record may elect to pursue an Oxford Independent Tutorial (OIT) in addition to the normal course load (one two-unit course) at the Oxford campus. The OIT is a one-unit course of independent study, designed and undertaken by a student at the Oxford campus, under the supervision of a faculty member there.

  • The reading, writing, and research of the OIT should approximate in nature and scope a one-unit Bread Loaf course; the OIT will receive the credit equivalent of and will cost the same as a one-unit course. The topic must be in a field covered by the Bread Loaf Oxford curriculum and faculty; the OIT can fulfill distributional group requirements for the MA degree or a field requirement for the MLitt.
  • To apply for the OIT, students must submit a 1–2-page prospectus to Dianne Baroz by February 15. The prospectus should include a brief description of the topic, goals, and questions of the study, and an extensive bibliography of primary and, as possible, secondary materials.
  • The Bread Loaf director will review and approve or reject the proposal by March 1. If the proposal is approved, the director will enlist an appropriate faculty member at Bread Loaf Oxford to serve as advisor. Once the advisor has signed on, the student may register for the OIT.
  • When the Oxford session begins, the student should meet with the advisor to set up a schedule of meetings and requirements, to extend across the full session. Ordinarily the OIT culminates in a critical essay of roughly 6,000 words.
  • Once the project is completed, the advisor will assign the work a letter grade and submit a narrative evaluation of the student’s performance to the Bread Loaf office.