Orange Alert

Distinction and Honors

Undergraduate ETS majors will earn the designation “Distinction in English and Textual Studies” when they demonstrate outstanding academic accomplishment by maintaining a 3.4 overall GPA and a 3.6 within the major, by enrolling in and earning a grade of a B+ or better in a graduate course during their senior year, and by successfully completing a senior thesis project (which will include enrolling in and completing Research Practicum in English in the fall semester of their senior year and the Thesis Workshop in the spring semester of their senior year). The “Distinction” designation will be granted upon graduation.

The graduate course will enable students to participate in a rigorous, intense seminar in a field or topic of their choice and the thesis project will require substantial research, critical analysis, and writing. These two projects will serve as valuable preparation for students interested in graduate school, and both will provide impressive credentials on applications to graduate school, law school, or other professional degree programs.

Eligibility and Recruitment:  Each March, eight junior ETS majors who meet the 3.4 overall/3.6 within the major GPA requirement and who are recommended by faculty will be invited to participate in the Distinction program.

The Graduate Course:  Distinction students will enroll in and complete, with a grade of B+ or better, a graduate course during the fall or spring of their senior year. Because students will normally write the bulk of their Distinction thesis during the spring semester, we recommend that students fulfill the graduate course requirement during the fall semester if possible. Graduate courses will train students to apply critical methodologies to cultural texts, to do independent research, and to formulate and produce a critical essay. Ideally, students will enroll in graduate courses related to their thesis topic or taught by their thesis advisor, but this need not be the case.

Graduate-level seminars are numbered ENG 630, 631, or 730. Before the semester begins, Distinction students must seek and receive permission from the instructor to enroll in a graduate course.

The Thesis Project: The thesis project will require students to formulate, research, and write a 30-page paper with the guidance of a faculty advisor. Theses should be sustained, focused, critical arguments, modeled on a seminar paper or a journal article. They are not intended to be sprawling mini-dissertations.

The Research Practicum:  During the fall semester, Distinction students will enroll in the 1-credit course, ENG 494: Research Practicum in English. The Research Practicum will meet approximately five times during the fall semester and will be graded Pass/Fail.

Each student enrolled in the Research Practicum will be responsible for finding a faculty advisor for his or her thesis project during the fall semester of his or her senior year. No individual faculty member should advise more than two theses in a given year. After a faculty member has agreed to serve as a thesis advisor, he or she will sign a form which the student will file with the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the day before Thanksgiving Break.

Thesis topics should be developed during the fall semester and some preliminary research conducted before the beginning of spring semester, a process fostered by the Research Practicum. The bulk of the writing and research will be conducted in the spring, in conjunction with enrollment in the Thesis Workshop.

The Thesis Workshop:  Students in the Distinction program will enroll in and complete the 2-credit ENG 495: Thesis Workshop course in the spring semester of their senior year. The Thesis Workshop will meet once per week for a three-hour period and is intended to serve as a forum for small-group mentoring and directed research. The course will involve refining research questions, compiling the annotated bibliography begun in the Research Practicum, writing and workshopping a thesis proposal, discussing writing strategies, presenting drafts, and engaging in collegial peer critique. The Workshop will not include much required reading because it is intended to support students as they take on the work of researching their theses. Instead, readings will be limited to short pieces on writing/research strategies and readings that students select themselves. The Thesis Workshop grade will be based on the thesis proposal, bibliography, oral presentations, workshop participation, and the final thesis itself. It will be possible to receive a passing grade in the Thesis Workshop even if the final thesis is judged “unsatisfactory” for Distinction. The Workshop instructor will be responsible for facilitating the sessions, reading each student’s thesis, attending the oral hearings, and conferring with primary thesis advisors and, in the case of a split decision, the Director of Undergraduate Studies to judge each thesis “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

The Thesis Workshop instructor may not serve as a primary advisor on any thesis.

Enrollment in the Thesis Workshop will be capped at fifteen students. The only other students eligible to enroll in the Thesis Workshop will be Honors students working on an Honors thesis but not participating in the Distinction program.

Evaluation:  Each thesis will be read and commented upon by the thesis advisor and the Workshop instructor.

Students will present and answer questions about their theses in an hour-long oral hearing, attended by the thesis advisor and the Workshop instructor. After the hearing, the readers will confer to decide whether to judge the thesis “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” for Distinction. In the case of a disagreement between the advisor and the Workshop instructor, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will read the thesis and consult with the two readers to decide whether to judge the thesis either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” Theses will not receive letter grades. A student who receives an “unsatisfactory” on his or her thesis may still receive a passing grade in the Thesis Workshop if the workshop instructor feels such a grade is warranted.

University Honors and Distinction in ETS

Eligibility and Recruitment:  Each spring, sophomore ETS majors in the Honors program who meet the GPA requirements will be invited to participate in the Distinction program for their junior year.

Honors students who do not meet the Distinction program’s GPA requirements, do not receive faculty recommendation, or fail to complete the requirements for earning Distinction may graduate with Honors but will not graduate with Distinction.

Thesis:  The department will accept the longer, 60- to 100-page “Capstone Projects” the Honors program requires, provided they meet the Distinction program’s requirements for the development of a sustained critical analysis and/or argument that coherently structures the larger project.

Graduate Course, Research Practicum, and Thesis Workshop:  Honors/Distinction students must meet all the Distinction requirements, including enrolling in and completing a graduate course with a grade of B+ or better, completing the Research Practicum, and completing the Thesis Workshop. Honors/Distinction students will complete many of these requirements on a different schedule from other Distinction students because they will start during their junior, rather than their senior, year.

Honors/Distinction students may meet the graduate course requirement during either their junior or senior year. Honors students must receive instructor permission to enroll in any graduate course. Because many instructors find that seniors are better prepared for graduate courses, we recommend that Honors/Distinction students wait until their senior year to complete this requirement, but in some circumstances they may wish to do it during their junior year.

Honors/Distinction students will enroll in and complete the Research Practicum during the fall of their junior year.

Honors/Distinction students will enroll in the Thesis Workshop in the spring of their junior year. They will be required to participate fully in the class and complete all the assignments. Honors students will not be required to submit a full Honors thesis draft at the completion of the Workshop, but instead will submit a polished portion of their Honors thesis, which will be a minimum of 20 pages long. Their Workshop grade will be calculated by the Thesis Workshop instructor based on their participation, completion of assignments, and the 20-page submission

Honors/Distinction students who wish to study abroad during the fall or spring semester of their junior year, or who anticipate truly exceptional circumstances affecting their junior-year course schedule, may petition the DUS to do an independent study with their thesis advisor or with the Distinction coordinator in place of either the Research Practicum or the Thesis Workshop. In general, students studying abroad in the fall of their junior year may do an independent study with the Distinction coordinator in place of the Research Practicum; students studying abroad in the spring of their junior year may do an independent study with their thesis advisor in the fall of their senior year in place of the Thesis Workshop. While the Distinction program is committed to supporting Capstone students and to being flexible in order to accommodate unavoidable time conflicts, students are encouraged to do as much advanced planning for their circumstances as they can because last-minute accommodations will not always be possible.

Honors students who are not enrolled in the Distinction program will be eligible to enroll in the Research Practicum and/or Thesis Workshop if there is room in the classes. They will be graded according to the requirements for Honors students, but they will not be considered for the Distinction designation.

Evaluation:  Students will present and answer questions about the 20-page portions of their Capstone projects submitted for fulfillment of the Thesis Workshop in an hour-long oral hearing, attended by the Workshop instructor, the advisor, and any additional readers.

Combined Honors/Distinction Capstones will be submitted in April of the senior year. Each Honors/Distinction Capstone will be read and commented on by the Thesis Workshop instructor who worked with the student the previous spring, and the Capstone advisor. The readers will confer to decide whether to judge the thesis “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” for Distinction. In the case of a disagreement between the advisor and the Workshop instructor, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will read the thesis and consult with the two readers to decide whether to judge the thesis either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” The student will submit a signature sheet to be signed by the Workshop instructor and the Capstone advisor and then filed with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

An Honors student who completes the Research Practicum, Thesis Workshop and graduate course and then decides not to complete his or her Capstone project may still be eligible for Distinction. The student will need to revise and resubmit the twenty page portion of the Capstone originally submitted as fulfillment of the Thesis Workshop. The revision should bring the original chapter into line with the requirements of the Distinction thesis: a 30-page sustained, focused, critical argument, modeled on a seminar paper or a journal article. The project’s advisor and the Workshop instructor will read the revised paper and will decide whether or not to award the project Distinction. Students will not need to schedule an additional oral hearing.

Distinction and Honors Recipients:


  • Lily Braden, Honors and Distinction, Adviser, Dympna Callaghan. “Sex and Power in the Taming of the Shrew and the Metamorphoses”
  • Ash Alexander Murray, Distinction, Adviser Katherine Kidd. “An Old Tale Given New Life: Queer Possibility (and Probability) in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and its Retellings”
  • Madison Nayo Tyler, Honors and Distinction, Adviser, Will Scheibel. “Sidney Poitier’s Method: Locating Stanislavski’s System in Black Performance”


  • Victoria Contreraz, “Empowerment through Rhizome Families: Exploring Space, Shame, and Alternative Futures in Dorothy Allison and Truman Capote” (Advisor: Susan Edmunds) — distinction
  • Allison McVey, “A Place for Mad Women: How Gendered Spaces are Queered by Hysteria in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and The Dairy of Alice James” (Advisor: Claudia Klaver) — distinction
  • Emily O’Hara, “Contested Spaces and the Struggle for Power in Early Modern ‘Virginia’ (Advisor: Patricia Roylance) — distinction
  • Lily Sarkisian, “‘Play the Scribe:’ Lavinia’s Reclaimed Agency in Titus Andronicus” (Advisor: Dympna Callaghan) — distinction and honors
  • Keith Stahl, “Misogyny or Philogyny? The Paradox of Patriarchal Subversion in Conservative Victorian-era Women’s Periodicals” (Advisor: Kevin Morrison) — distinction


  • Alexa Abdalla, “‘Superman in Third Space’: Hybridity in a Jewish American Comic Book Character” (Advisor: Harvey Teres) — distinction
  • Alice Blank, “The Comic of Otranto: A Graphic Novel Adaptaion and Analysis of Queer Tone in The Castle of Otranto” (Advisors: Erin Mackie and Robert Dacey) — distinction and honors
  • Noelle Hedgcock, “False Convictions: the Issue of Convincing Narrative in Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady” (Advisor: Mike Goode) — distinction
  • Kaitlyn Hobson, “The Politics of Soldiers’ Bodies: An Examination of Trauma and Corporeality in the Work of Virginia Woolf and Hiram Sturdy” (Advisor: Chris Forster) — distinction and honors
  • Olivia Morris, “Unusual Children: Queerishness and Strange Growth in A Wrinkle in Time and The Giver” (Advisor: Donald Morton) — distinction and honors
  • Jennifer Raznovski, “No Toy Inside: A Collection of Short Stories” (Advisor: Arthur Flowers) — honors
  • Simon Staples-Vangel, “‘You Can’t Do a Slasher Movie as a TV Series’: Scream: The TV Series and the Failures of Combining the Slasher and the Teen Serial" (Advisor: Chris Hanson) — distinction
  • Christina Tiberio, “Anarchy in the UK: Anthony Trollope’s Changing Views on the Irish through Phineas Finn and the Landleaguers" (Advisor: Kevin Morrison) — distinction


  • Christina Barquin, “Contesting Victorian Beliefs: The Unintended Effects of Victorian Novels” (Advisor: Claudia Klaver) — honors
  • Rachel De Orio, “Female Agency: Rewriting the Individual to Reform Society in EvelinaPride and Prejudice and Belinda” (Advisor: Erin Mackie) — distinction
  • Elizabeth Dreeson, "‘Seeming’ Rotten in the State of Denmark” (Advisor: Stephanie Shirilan) — distinction
  • Kwang Lee Gan, “The Masculinization of Native American Culture in Charles Eastman’s From the Deep Woods to Civilization” (Advisor: Dorri Beam) — distinction
  • Meredith Jeffers, “Exposing Narrative Ideologies of Victimhood in Emma Donoghue’s Room and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl” (Advisor: Chris Forster) — distinction and honors
  • Mary Salmonsen, “Definitive Knowledge and Definite Punishment: An Examination of the Inquisition and English Penal System in Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk” (Advisor: Mike Goode) — distinction; “Imperfect Imitations: A Novel” (Advisor: Arthur Flowers) — honors
  • Alexander Sammartino, “Message Not Sent: A Collection of Stories” (Advisor: Dana Spiotta) — honors
  • Anatastia Selby, “The Open Curtain: A Novel” (Brooks Haxton) — honors


  • Megan Daniels, “180 Degrees Away: A Novel” (Advisor: Arthur Flowers) — honors
  • Margaux Deverin, “Graphic Transformation: Rendering the Core ‘Uncommon’ Through Comics” — distinction
  • Emily Edwards, “Losing It: Female Virginity in Contemporary Hollywood Narrative Cinema” — distinction
  • Jessica Cimino, “Crafting Women: Gender Politics in Late Victorian Poetry, Art and Interior Design” — distinction
  • Krista Staropoli, “The Evolution of The Legend of King Arthur” (Advisor: Patricia Moody) — honors
  • Rachel Wakefield, “Non-toxic: A Book of Short Stories” (Advsor: Dana Spiotta) — honors


  • David J. Hotelling, “Philip Roth and Female Character Development: Considering the Stake of the Soul of the Women in Roth’s Theater with Delphine Roux” — distinction
  • Tress Klassen, “The Uncertainty of National and Cultural Identity in Salman Rushdie’s East, West and Midnight’s Children” (Advisor: Manan Desai) — honors
  • Minakshi Raj, “Resisting Discourses through Language in the Memoir from Herculine Barbin: Being the Remains of a Nineteenth Century Hermaphrodite” — distinction
  • Amy Tatnall, “Beyond the Veil: How the Contemporary Photography of Shirin Nashat and Lalla Essaydi is Breaking Binary Representations of the Muslim Woman” — distinction
  • Victoria White, “Femininity Beyond Needlework: A Study of Mary Lamb’s Needle and Pen” — distinction


  • Paul Czuprynski, “Hermione and Her Wand: Tensions of Gender in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series” — distinction
  • Emma DeMilta, “‘Treat Me Well:’ Prozac Era Pharmacology and Depression in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest” — distinction; “Here, from the Passenger Seat: A Novel” (Advisor: Dana Spiotta) — honors
  • Bailey Fitzgerald, “Counter-Reformation: The Search for a Unified John Donne” (Advisor: Dympna Callaghan) — distinction and honors
  • Jamie Greenwood, “Friends With Benefits: Female Friendships and the Refiguration of Gender in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette” — distinction
  • Tress Klassen, “‘Her Heart Was Being Pulled Both East and West:’ Postcolonialism, Magical Realism, and Intertextuality in Salman Rushdie’s East, West” — distinction
  • Julie Nascone, “A Kiss with a Fist is Better than None: Violence and Sexuality in The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep” (Advisor: Steve Cohan) — distinction and honors
  • Nicole Peters, “Constructing Depth through Jane: Contemporary Interactions between Austen and Interiority” (Advisor: Mike Goode) — distinction and honors
  • Daniel Powell, “The Superficial State: Hierarchy in Franz Kafka’s Fiction as a Critique of Austrian Uniformity” — distinction
  • Rachel Weiser, “Penance: A Novel” (Advisor: Arthur Flowers) — honors


  • Patricia Abraham, “Crossroads: A Novel — honors
  • Michelle Austin, “Layers of Reality: The Critique of Victorian Middle Class Normativity in Armadale” — distinction
  • Alei Carrington, “Hawthorne in Context: Reading Hawthorne Within and Against Nineteenth Century Periodicals” — distinction
  • Laura DePalma, “Hero/Heroine: A Study of the Representation of Womanhood in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Literature” — honors
  • S. Kemp, “‘The Maddest Child They’d Ever Seen’: in which S. Kemp looks at the unseeable, uses words to undermine language, and finds that fiction defies reality so long as reality defies women” — distinction
  • Miranda Larsen, “Filling in the Gaps: Participation of International Visual Kei Fans through Malice Mizer and The Gazette Fanfiction on Livejournal” — distinction
  • Alexandria Marsters, “A Feast of Languages: Using Sociolinguistics to Rectify the Misconceptions about Shakespeare’s Language Contribution” — distinction