Guidelines for Senior Essays

Senior essays in East Asian Languages and Literatures must be about Chinese, Japanese, or Korean literature and the primary material must be a literary text or texts written in the target language.  The senior essay course may be one or two semesters.  (A two-semester essay requires significant research.)  Most commonly, students complete the essay as a semester course in the spring, following these steps:

  1. an initial consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before registration in the course, preferably by the end of the previous spring semester, but no later than the first week of the fall term of their senior year;
  2. preparation of a proposal endorsed by a faculty sponsor (not a language instructor) who will serve as the senior essay adviser by the last week of classes in the fall term; a second faculty reader will also be selected at this stage by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in consultation with the adviser;
  3. submission of a prospectus in the second week of the spring term;
  4. submission of an annotated bibliography with a thesis statement in the fourth week of the spring term;
  5. submission a rough draft for the adviser in the week after spring break; and
  6. submission of the final draft of the essay, approved by the adviser and submitted to the second reader in the second to last week of classes, spring term.

The student will meet with the adviser on a regular basis to discuss the project, and the adviser will help the student with bibliography, the refinement of topic and thesis, and issues of interpretation, composition and argument.  Translation projects are acceptable, but only if at least one-third of the essay’s length consists of commentary on the translated text that would stand alone as an essay in literary interpretation or historical scholarship on literature.  Such commentary is expected to be as thorough and academically rigorous as a term paper in a course on literature.  There is no regulation regarding the essay’s length, but successful essays in recent years have been in the range of 25-40 double-spaced pages.