Proposals in CRWR Honors should demonstrate a clear understanding of the formal and topical elements of your prospective project. A creative writing thesis proposal will also ask for a project description, an artist statement, and a creative writing sample (in the project’s respective genre).
Writing the Senior Thesis
While the groundwork for your thesis will take place during your junior year, the drafting of the project usually occurs in the fall of your senior year, while spring allows for the finalizing and polishing of your project. Realize that writing the thesis is an incremental process that involves drafting, revising, and reorganizing your writing in regular consultation with your thesis advisor. Expect that you may spend as much time on revision and reorganization as on the initial writing, so that quantity of writing (the production of pages) will matter less than the polished quality of your final thesis.
You will receive credit for your senior Honors work when you register for ENGL 495 (fall) and 496 (spring), each of which is a 3-credit class. You and your advisor will construct a work plan, or syllabus, that you register with the departmental CRWR Honors Director. Your adherence to this plan is in part what helps your thesis advisor determine your grade for the fall. In the spring, you will complete a creative writing thesis (page requirements dependent upon selected genre), which is turned in to your examination committee members on or around April 15 (see the Charles Center or the CRWR Honors Director for the official completion date, which changes slightly with the calendar.)
The Oral Defense
At the conclusion of the spring term, you will defend your thesis to an examination committee, which is composed of one CRWR faculty member (not your advisor), one English faculty member, and one from another department or program. Examinations will be held during the last week of classes or the first week of exams, depending upon faculty schedules.
The composition of the examining committee is determined by the CRWR Honors Director and the thesis advisor, in conjunction with student input. Expect that the CRWR Honors Director will ask for your preferences as the committee is assembled. You will be responsible for arranging a time for the oral defense and will coordinate the room scheduling with Jeanne Smith, administrator in the English Department, once committee members have confirmed their availability.
Taking into account the quality of the written thesis and the oral defense, the examining committee determines whether the thesis receives Honors and assigns a grade for ENGL 496. The thesis advisor assigns a grade for ENGL 495. If the thesis does not receive the Honors designation, the student’s transcript will show two sections of ENGL 480, Independent Study, in lieu of ENGL 495 and ENGL 496, or the two semesters of Honors work. A student who receives Honors must deposit a digital copy of the final version of the thesis, prepared and formatted in accordance with standards established by the Charles Center, in the William and Mary Digital Archive.
How to Begin
Creative writers may choose to extend a project begun in a class, or they may build upon genres and techniques they have previously studied; as creative writers formulate projects, we encourage them to build on their knowledge of craft in order to produce a sophisticated and polished final product. Thus, it is important that creative applicants have begun to hone a craft and develop a voice.
As you consider the CRWR Honors program, it is a good idea to begin by reaching out to Creative Writing faculty whose courses interested you, or where you encountered the works that influenced your writing.