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Department of English


Sample Theses

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The following represent a sampling of outstanding English honors thesis projects.

“This Is Hardly the Happy Ending I Was Expecting”: NIER ’s Rejection of the Heteronormative in Fairy Tales (PDF)

Author: Emily Cerri Thesis Type: Independent Thesis Approved By: Caroline Yang and TreaAndrea Russworm, English Department Published 2019

Abstract: Despite the perception they are just entertainment, video games have the potential to present criticisms on aspects of culture such as race, gender, and sexuality. Games such as Gone Home and The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories subvert stereotypes of gender and sexuality or highlight the struggles of sexually marginalized groups in a heteronormative society. However, games often miss the opportunity to subvert expectations or represent racially marginalized communities. The game NIER both creates and overlooks critiques of this lack of attention through its use of the fairy tale genre. NIER ’s destabilization of binaries and refusal to conform to gender roles and performance present a critique of heteronormativity and the gender binary of the fairy tale canon. And yet, NIER also misses the opportunity to fully present criticisms on the topics of race, gender, and sexuality. The game’s presentation of race is especially lacking, particularly through its tacit assumption of whiteness as the “unmarked” race. Though attempts to it dismantle some stereotypical racial imagery, it shuts out the possibility of nonwhite people persisting through the apocalypse. Furthermore, while its portrayal of nonheteronormative characters destabilizes the stereotypes of these characters in other media, censorship and pandering to the male gaze ultimately hinder the representation of these marginalized characters. That is, the localization explicitly alters characters’ identities in favor of heteronormativity and the game uses clothing and camera angles to hypersexualize the female protagonist. Its use of fairy tales, which are typically European tales, sometimes highlights their normalized gender and sexual stereotypes and expectations and sometimes subvert them. In other cases, it misses the opportunity to destabilize these notions and instead maintains the status quo. In such ways, NIER also fails to completely queer the fairy tale canon even as it tries to subvert the genre. Nonetheless, while NIER falls short of being a queer critique, it provides the opening for the critical player to do so.

Using Genre Theory to Understand the Way Opinion Journalism is Changing in Today’s Digital World (PDF)

Author: Tess Halpern Thesis Type: Independent Thesis Approved By: Donna LeCourt and Janine Solberg, English Department Published 2019

Abstract: As an editor of opinion journalism during my college years, I have always struggled to not only articulate but also determine which texts constitute opinion journalism and which are simply opinion. As opinions become more ubiquitous with the rise of the digital era, and as they can now be published on platforms like blogs, podcasts, and social media with no regulation or editorial review, this distinction has become even harder to make. Unfortunately, the blurring of the line between opinion journalism and opinion has happened at the precise moment that the legitimacy of journalism has also begun to be questioned more than ever before in my lifetime. The purpose of this research was to definitively draw that line, separating opinion journalism from opinion. To do this, I first determined the genre norms of opinion journalism by studying the texts, the writers, and the publications that define the genre. Following, I then determined where the genre set of opinion journalism ends by studying articles written for non-reputable, digital-only platforms, and platforms that were self-publishing or otherwise had minimal editing and regulation processes. A total of 63 articles from The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , The Washington Post , The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Odyssey Online , and personal blogs were analyzed for this research. The results of this study allowed me to track the transformation that opinion journalism, and journalism in general, is currently undergoing. Additionally, it clarified the distinction between opinion journalism and ordinary opinion, allowing me to better understand the genre and the texts that are excluded from that genre.

"You Can Be Useful to Us in a Hundred Different Ways”: A Study of Stage and Screen Adaptations of Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby (PDF)

Author: Emma Piscia Thesis/Project Type: Independent Honors Thesis Approved By: Heidi Holder and Suzanne Daly, Department Of English Published 2016

Abstract: Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby has been adapted since 1839, when it was still in the midst of its initial serialized publication. It has since been adapted into plays, films, and television miniseries over 250 times, and the number continues to grow. This thesis investigates the history of Nickleby as adapted for stage and screen from 1838 to the present. While there has been much scholarly consideration of adapted Dickens, there has been little in the way of examination of any particular work across periods and genres; Nickleby, with its varied history on stage and screen, certainly merits such critical examination. Works discussed here range from Edward Stirling’s early farce Nicholas Nickleby: or, Doings at Do-The-Boys Hall (1838), through David Edgar’s marathon stage adaptation The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Royal Shakespeare Company 1980), to David Innes Edwards’s and Joy Wilkinson’s The Life and Adventures of Nick Nickleby (a 2012 miniseries). This thesis explores the cultural uses and revisions of Dickens’s text. Key topics of discussion include the highly varied representation of the orphan Smike; the portrayal of physical, sexual, and financial violence; and the sociopolitical and economic themes of the novel that allow it to resonate with contemporary audiences down through the centuries. Using reviews, historical context, literary and film criticism, performance history, and gender theory, this thesis endeavors to explain the persistence of an early Victorian novel in popular culture.

Eye on Research (PDF)

Author: Alexandra Foley Thesis/Project Type: Capstone Thesis Approved By: David Toomey, Department Of English Published 2012

Abstract: A collection of the newest discoveries and breaking edge research taking place on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Here is a list of some of the research published in this thesis: a new synthetic material called “Geckskin” which mimics the adhesion power of Gecko feet developed in Polymer Science department; UBot, a robot designed by UMass’s Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, can learn by interacting with its environment; Gregory Tew, of the Polymer Science department, has found a way to look inside their previously impenetrable membranes of T cells; and Dr. Caitlyn Shea Butler of the Environmental Engineering department has designed a “Microbial Fuel Cell Latrine” that purifies human waste and produces electricity at the same time.

“How could the body politic be made to work in the absence of its head?”:Beheadings, Gender, and Power In Malory’s Morte Darthur (PDF)

Author: Kerry Ditson Thesis/Project Type: Independent Honors Thesis Approved by: Jen Adams, English Department and Sonja Drimmer, Art History Program Published: 2015

Abstract: The Wars of the Roses were without a doubt one of the most transformative and traumatic events of medieval England. This bloody conflict called into question commonly accepted notions of nobility, masculinity, kingship, governance, and violence. The deposition of Richard II in 1399 set into motion aftershocks that would be felt half a century later, as the notion of divinely anointed kingship was called into question—in a world where kings could be gotten rid of, who had the right to rule? The answer came down, in many ways, to one issue: blood.

Closets and Transylvanian Castles: Vampires and Queerness in the Nineteenth-Century Literature and Beyond (PDF)

Author: Maxwell Heath Thesis/Project Type: Independent Honors Thesis Approved by Heidi Holder and Jenny Spencer of the Department of English Published 2015

Abstract: My thesis examines how vampires have been used in literature to depict queer people and explore issues of queerness. Focusing primarily on the nineteenth century with a brief foray into the twentieth, I analyze seven key texts, both well known and relatively obscure, from John Polidori’s groundbreaking “The Vampyre” (1819) to G.S. Viereck’s The House of the Vampire (1907). This wide range is significant: previous work in the field has tended toward individual studies. I track how the depictions of vampirism and queerness evolved over time, focusing especially on the tropes of disorientation of space and narrative structure, complex patterning of relationships between characters, and conflict between humans and vampires for control of narrative. To this end ideas drawn from theorists such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick have been deployed in my analysis. I have discovered that from the first there is a degree of sympathy for queerness which is often occluded by gothic tropes. While the vampires themselves only begin to shift from villains towards more ambiguous figures at the end of the nineteenth century, their victims are often figured as queer and portrayed sympathetically. This suggests that vampires have been used as a way to mask queerness in metaphor so that it could be explored and discussed during a time when any explicit examination was forbidden.

Transplanted (PDF)

Author: Michael Sirois Thesis/Project Type: Independent Honors Thesis Approved by John Hennessy, Department of English Published May 2015

Abstract: My honors thesis project is a manuscript consisting of twenty-four poems. This collection of poetry reflects my transition from a working-class upbringing to completing my degree at the university. The many years I spent working in agriculture influence my poetry significantly, so natural settings and elements serve as a prism for my themes of work, the working-class, and the family. The introduction to my thesis project is included to show the departures from my literary influences.

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Digital Commons @ USF > College of Arts and Sciences > English > Theses and Dissertations

English Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2022 2022.

Using Movie Clips to Understand Vivid-Phrasal Idioms’ Meanings , Rasha Salem S. Alghamdi

An Exercise in Exceptions: Personhood, Divergency, and Ableism in the STAR TREK Franchise , Jessica A. Blackman

Vulnerable Resistance in Victorian Women’s Writing , Stephanie A. Harper

Curricular Assemblages: Understanding Student Writing Knowledge (Re)circulation Across Genres , Adam Phillips

PAD Beyond the Classroom: Integrating PAD in the Scrum Workplace , Jade S. Weiss

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Social Cues in Animated Pedagogical Agents for Second Language Learners: the Application of The Embodiment Principle in Video Design , Sahar M. Alyahya

A Field-Wide Examination of Cross-Listed Courses in Technical Professional Communication , Carolyn M. Gubala

Labor-Based Grading Contracts in the Multilingual FYC Classroom: Unpacking the Variables , Kara Kristina Larson

Land Goddesses, Divine Pigs, and Royal Tricksters: Subversive Mythologies and Imperialist Land Ownership Dispossession in Twentieth Century Irish and American Literature , Elizabeth Ricketts

Oppression, Resistance, and Empowerment: The Power Dynamics of Naming and Un-naming in African American Literature, 1794 to 2019 , Melissa "Maggie" Romigh

Generic Expectations in First Year Writing: Teaching Metadiscoursal Reflection and Revision Strategies for Increased Generic Uptake of Academic Writing , Kaelah Rose Scheff

Reframing the Gothic: Race, Gender, & Disability in Multiethnic Literature , Ashely B. Tisdale

Intersections of Race and Place in Short Fiction by New Orleans Gens de Couleur Libres , Adrienne D. Vivian

Mental Illness Diagnosis and the Construction of Stigma , Katie Lynn Walkup

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

Rhetorical Roundhouse Kicks: Tae Kwon Do Pumsae Practice and Non-Western Embodied Topoi , Spencer Todd Bennington

9/11 Then and Now: How the Performance of Memorial Rhetoric by Presidents Changes to Construct Heroes , Kristen M. Grafton

Kinesthetically Speaking: Human and Animal Communication in British Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century , Dana Jolene Laitinen

Exploring Refugee Students’ Second Language (L2) Motivational Selves through Digital Visual Representations , Nhu Le

Glamour in Contemporary American Cinema , Shauna A. Maragh

Instrumentalization Theory: An Analytical Heuristic for a Heightened Social Awareness of Machine Learning Algorithms in Social Media , Andrew R. Miller

Intercessory Power: A Literary Analysis of Ethics and Care in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon , Alice Walker’s Meridian , and Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones Are Not My Child , Kelly Mills

The Power of Non-Compliant Logos: A New Materialist Approach to Comic Studies , Stephanie N. Phillips

Female Identity and Sexuality in Contemporary Indonesian Novels , Zita Rarastesa

"The Fiery Furnaces of Hell": Rhetorical Dynamism in Youngstown, OH , Joshua M. Rea

“We developed solidarity”: Family, Race, Identity, and Space-Time in Recent Multiethnic U.S. American Fiction , Kimber L. Wiggs

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Remembrance of a Wound: Ethical Mourning in the Works of Ana Menéndez, Elías Miguel Muñoz, and Junot Díaz , José Aparicio

Taking an “Ecological Turn” in the Evaluation of Rhetorical Interventions , Peter Cannon

New GTA’s and the Pre-Semester Orientation: The Need for Informed Refinement , Jessica L. Griffith

Reading Rape and Answering with Empathy: A New Approach to Sexual Assault Education for College Students , Brianna Jerman

The Karoo , The Veld , and the Co-Op: The Farm as Microcosm and Place for Change in Schreiner, Lessing, and Head , Elana D. Karshmer

"The weak are meat, and the strong do eat"; Representations of the Slaughterhouse in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature , Stephanie Lance

Language of Carnival: How Language and the Carnivalesque Challenge Hegemony , Yulia O. Nekrashevich

Queer Authority in Old and Middle English Literature , Elan J. Pavlinich

Because My Garmin Told Me To: A New Materialist Study of Agency and Wearable Technology , Michael Repici

No One Wants to Read What You Write: A Contextualized Analysis of Service Course Assignments , Tanya P. Zarlengo

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Beauty and the Beasts: Making Places with Literary Animals of Florida , Haili A. Alcorn

The Medievalizing Process: Religious Medievalism in Romantic and Victorian Literature , Timothy M. Curran

Seeing Trauma: The Known and the Hidden in Nineteenth-Century Literature , Alisa M. DeBorde

Analysis of User Interfaces in the Sharing Economy , Taylor B. Johnson

Border-Crossing Travels Across Literary Worlds: My Shamanic Conscientization , Scott Neumeister

The Spectacle of The Bomb: Rhetorical Analysis of Risk of The Nevada Test Site in Technical Communication, Popular Press, and Pop Culture , Tiffany Wilgar

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Traveling Women and Consuming Place in Eighteenth-Century Travel Letters and Journals , Cassie Patricia Childs

“The Nations of the Field and Wood”: The Uncertain Ontology of Animals in Eighteenth-Century British Literature , J. Kevin Jordan

Modern Mythologies: The Epic Imagination in Contemporary Indian Literature , Sucheta Kanjilal

Science in the Sun: How Science is Performed as a Spatial Practice , Natalie Kass

Body as Text: Physiognomy on the Early English Stage , Curtis Le Van

Tensions Between Democracy and Expertise in the Florida Keys , Elizabeth A. Loyer

Institutional Review Boards and Writing Studies Research: A Justice-Oriented Study , Johanna Phelps-Hillen

The Spirit of Friendship: Girlfriends in Contemporary African American Literature , Tangela La'Chelle Serls

Aphra Behn on the Contemporary Stage: Behn's Feminist Legacy and Woman-Directed Revivals of The Rover , Nicole Elizabeth Stodard

(Age)ncy in Composition Studies , Alaina Tackitt

Constructing Health Narratives: Patient Feedback in Online Communities , Katie Lynn Walkup

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

Rupturing the World of Elite Athletics: A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of the Suspension of the 2011 IAAF Regulations on Hyperandrogenism , Ella Browning

Shaping Climate Citizenship: The Ethics of Inclusion in Climate Change Communication and Policy , Lauren E. Cagle

Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Analyzing FEMA's Risk Communication through Visual Rhetoric , Samantha Jo Cosgrove

Material Expertise: Applying Object-oriented Rhetoric in Marine Policy , Zachary Parke Dixon

The Non-Identical Anglophone Bildungsroman : From the Categorical to the De-Centering Literary Subject in the Black Atlantic , Jarad Heath Fennell

Instattack: Instagram and Visual Ad Hominem Political Arguments , Sophia Evangeline Gourgiotis

Hospitable Climates: Representations of the West Indies in Eighteenth-Century British Literature , Marisa Carmen Iglesias

Chosen Champions: Medieval and Early Modern Heroes as Postcolonial Reactions to Tensions between England and Europe , Jessica Trant Labossiere

Science, Policy, and Decision Making: A Case Study of Deliberative Rhetoric and Policymaking for Coastal Adaptation in Southeast Florida , Karen Patricia Langbehn

A New Materialist Approach to Visual Rhetoric in PhotoShopBattles , Jonathan Paul Ray

Tracing the Material: Spaces and Objects in British and Irish Modernist Novels , Mary Allison Wise

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Representations of Gatsby: Ninety Years of Retrospective , Christine Anne Auger

Robust, Low Power, Discrete Gate Sizing , Anthony Joseph Casagrande

Wrestling with Angels: Postsecular Contemporary American Poetry , Paul T. Corrigan

#networkedglobe: Making the Connection between Social Media and Intercultural Technical Communication , Laura Anne Ewing

Evidence of Things Not Seen: A Semi-Automated Descriptive Phrase and Frame Analysis of Texts about the Herbicide Agent Orange , Sarah Beth Hopton

'She Shall Not Be Moved': Black Women's Spiritual Practice in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Paradise, and Home , Rondrea Danielle Mathis

Relational Agency, Networked Technology, and the Social Media Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing , Megan M. Mcintyre

Now, We Hear Through a Voice Darkly: New Media and Narratology in Cinematic Art , James Anthony Ricci

Navigating Collective Activity Systems: An Approach Towards Rhetorical Inquiry , Katherine Jesse Royce

Women's Narratives of Confinement: Domestic Chores as Threads of Resistance and Healing , Jacqueline Marie Smith

Domestic Spaces in Transition: Modern Representations of Dwelling in the Texts of Elizabeth Bowen , Shannon Tivnan

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Paradise Always Already Lost: Myth, Memory, and Matter in English Literature , Elizabeth Stuart Angello

Overcoming the 5th-Century BCE Epistemological Tragedy: A Productive Reading of Protagoras of Abdera , Ryan Alan Blank

Acts of Rebellion: The Rhetoric of Rogue Cinema , Adam Breckenridge

Material and Textual Spaces in the Poetry of Montagu, Leapor, Barbauld, and Robinson , Jessica Lauren Cook

Decolonizing Shakespeare: Race, Gender, and Colonialism in Three Adaptations of Three Plays by William Shakespeare , Angela Eward-Mangione

Risk of Compliance: Tracing Safety and Efficacy in Mef-Lariam's Licensure , Julie Marie Gerdes

Beyond Performance: Rhetoric, Collective Memory, and the Motive of Imprinting Identity , Brenda M. Grau

Subversive Beauty - Victorian Bodies of Expression , Lisa Michelle Hoffman-Reyes

Integrating Reading and Writing For Florida's ESOL Program , George Douglas Mcarthur

Responsibility and Responsiveness in the Novels of Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley , Katherine Marie McGee

Ghosts, Orphans, and Outlaws: History, Family, and the Law in Toni Morrison's Fiction , Jessica Mckee

The "Defective" Generation: Disability in Modernist Literature , Deborah Susan Mcleod

Science Fiction/Fantasy and the Representation of Ethnic Futurity , Joy Ann Sanchez-Taylor

Hermes, Technical Communicator of the Gods: The Theory, Design, and Creation of a Persuasive Game for Technical Communication , Eric Walsh

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

Rhetorical Spirits: Spirituality as Rhetorical Device in New Age Womanist of Color Texts , Ronisha Witlee Browdy

Disciplinarity, Crisis, and Opportunity in Technical Communication , Jason Robert Carabelli

The Terror of Possibility: A Re-evaluation and Reconception of the Sublime Aesthetic , Kurt Fawver

Unbearable Weight, Unbearable Witness: The (Im)possibility of Witnessing Eating Disorders in Cyberspace , Kristen Nicole Gay

the post- 9/11 aesthetic: repositioning the zombie film in the horror genre , Alan Edward Green, Jr.

An(other) Rhetoric: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Rhetorical Tradition , Kathleen Sandell Hardesty

Mapping Dissertation Genre Ecology , Kate Lisbeth Pantelides

Dead Man's Switch: Disaster Rhetorics in a Posthuman Age , Daniel Patrick Richards

"Of That Transfigured World" : Realism and Fantasy in Victorian Literature , Benjamin Jude Wright

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Failed Heroes: Hypermasculinity in the Contemporary American Novel , Josef D. Benson

Electronic Peer Feedback in a Collaborative Classroom , Cassandra A. Branham

"Free Your Mind . . . and the Rest Will Follow": A Secularly Contemplative Approach To Teaching High School English , Kendra Nicole Bryant

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Literary Criticism: thesis examples


These sample thesis statements are provided as guides, not as required forms or prescriptions.


The thesis may focus on an analysis of one of the elements of fiction, drama, poetry or nonfiction as expressed in the work: character, plot, structure, idea, theme, symbol, style, imagery, tone, etc.

In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty creates a fictional character in Phoenix Jackson whose determination, faith, and cunning illustrate the indomitable human spirit.

Note that the work, author, and character to be analyzed are identified in this thesis statement. The thesis relies on a strong verb (creates). It also identifies the element of fiction that the writer will explore (character) and the characteristics the writer will analyze and discuss (determination, faith, cunning).

Further Examples:

The character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet serves as a foil to young Juliet, delights us with her warmth and earthy wit, and helps realize the tragic catastrophe.

The works of ecstatic love poets Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir use symbols such as a lover’s longing and the Tavern of Ruin to illustrate the human soul’s desire to connect with God.

The thesis may focus on illustrating how a work reflects the particular genre’s forms, the characteristics of a philosophy of literature, or the ideas of a particular school of thought.

“The Third and Final Continent” exhibits characteristics recurrent in writings by immigrants: tradition, adaptation, and identity.

Note how the thesis statement classifies the form of the work (writings by immigrants) and identifies the characteristics of that form of writing (tradition, adaptation, and identity) that the essay will discuss.

Further examples:

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame reflects characteristics of Theatre of the Absurd in its minimalist stage setting, its seemingly meaningless dialogue, and its apocalyptic or nihilist vision.

A close look at many details in “The Story of an Hour” reveals how language, institutions, and expected demeanor suppress the natural desires and aspirations of women.

The thesis may draw parallels between some element in the work and real-life situations or subject matter: historical events, the author’s life, medical diagnoses, etc.

In Willa Cather’s short story, “Paul’s Case,” Paul exhibits suicidal behavior that a caring adult might have recognized and remedied had that adult had the scientific knowledge we have today.

This thesis suggests that the essay will identify characteristics of suicide that Paul exhibits in the story. The writer will have to research medical and psychology texts to determine the typical characteristics of suicidal behavior and to illustrate how Paul’s behavior mirrors those characteristics.

Through the experience of one man, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, accurately depicts the historical record of slave life in its descriptions of the often brutal and quixotic relationship between master and slave and of the fragmentation of slave families.

In “I Stand Here Ironing,” one can draw parallels between the narrator’s situation and the author’s life experiences as a mother, writer, and feminist.


1. In (title of work), (author) (illustrates, shows) (aspect) (adjective). 

Example: In “Barn Burning,” William Faulkner shows the characters Sardie and Abner Snopes struggling for their identity.

2. In (title of work), (author) uses (one aspect) to (define, strengthen, illustrate) the (element of work).

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses foreshadowing to strengthen the plot.

3. In (title of work), (author) uses (an important part of work) as a unifying device for (one element), (another element), and (another element). The number of elements can vary from one to four.

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses the sea as a unifying device for setting, structure and theme.

4. (Author) develops the character of (character’s name) in (literary work) through what he/she does, what he/she says, what other people say to or about him/her.

Example: Langston Hughes develops the character of Semple in “Ways and Means”…

5. In (title of work), (author) uses (literary device) to (accomplish, develop, illustrate, strengthen) (element of work).

Example: In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Poe uses the symbolism of the stranger, the clock, and the seventh room to develop the theme of death.

6. (Author) (shows, develops, illustrates) the theme of __________ in the (play, poem, story).

Example: Flannery O’Connor illustrates the theme of the effect of the selfishness of the grandmother upon the family in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

7. (Author) develops his character(s) in (title of work) through his/her use of language.

Example: John Updike develops his characters in “A & P” through his use of figurative language.

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Oscar Wilde

english literature thesis sample

Charles Dickens

english literature thesis sample

Zora Neale Hurston

english literature thesis sample

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 11, 2022.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

Table of contents

Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

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University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Faculty: Computer Science Author:  John Criswell Award:  2014 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title:   Secure Virtual Architecture: Security for Commodity Software Systems

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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MA Thesis Examples

Recent graduate theses.

The subjects of MA theses have included studies of individual poets or dramatists, novelists or autobiographers, as well as explorations of literary movements, themes or periods. Some of our more recent titles are:

“‘Memory is all that Matters;’ Queer Latinx Temporality and the Memory-Making Process” (2020 Caicedo)

“Old Wives’ Tales: Mothers & Daughters, Wives & Witches (Stories)” (2020 Champagne)

“‘Numbed and Mortified’: Labor, Empathy, and Acquired Disability in King Lear and Titus Andronicus : (2020 Harrington)

“‘More Forms and Stranger’: Queer Feminism and the Aesthetic of Sapphic Camp (2020 Kennedy)

“A Discourse and Statistical Approach to Intersections of Gender and Race in Melville’s Typee ” (2020 Post)

“Prophetic Un-speaking: The Language of Inheritance and Original Sin in Paradise Lost and S alve Deus Rex Judaeorum ” (2019 Darrow)

“‘The Frame of her Eternal Dream’: From Thel to Dreamscapes of Influence” (2019 Gallo)

“‘The Murmure and the Cherles Rebellying’: Poetic and Economic Interpretations of the Great Revolt of 1381” (2019 Noell)

“Dialogic Convergences of Spatiality, Racial Identity, and the American Cultural Imagination” (2019 Humphrey)

“Troubling Vice: Stigma and Subjectivity in Shakespeare’s Ambitious Villains” (2019 Simonson)

“Beyond Mourning: Afro-Pessimism in Contemporary African American Fiction” (2018 Huggins)

“‘Harmonized by the earth’: Land, Landscape, and Place in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights ” (2018 Bevin)

“(Re)membering the Subject: Nomadic Becoming in Contemporary Chicano/a Literature” (2018 Voelkner)

“Werewolves: The Outsider on the Inside in Icelandic and French Medieval Literature” (2018 Modugno)

“Towards Self-Defined Expressions of Black Anger in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Percival Everett’s Erasure ” (2018 Razak)

“Echoes Inhabit the Garden: The Music of Poetry and Place in T.S. Eliot” (2018 Goldsmith)

“‘Is this what motherhood is?’: Ambivalent Representations of Motherhood in Black Women’s Novels, 1953-2011” (2018 Gotfredson)

“Movements of Hunters and Pilgrims: Forms of Motion and Thought in Moby-Dick , The Confidence Man , and Clarel ” (2018 Marcy)

“Speaking of the Body: The Maternal Body, Race, and Language in the Plays of Cherrie Moraga, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner” (2018 King)

“Passing as Jewish: The Material Consequences of Race and the Property of Whiteness in Late Twentieth-Century Passing Novels” (2017 Mullis)

“Eliot through Tolkien: Estrangement, Verse Drama, and the Christian Path in the Modern Era” (2017 Reynolds)

“Aesthetics, Politics, and the Urban Space in Postcolonial British Literature” (2017 Rahmat)

“Models of Claim, Resistance, and Activism in the Novels of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, and Frances Burney” (2017 Smith)

“English Literature’s Father of Authorial Androgyny: The Innovative Perspective of Chaucer and the Wife of Bath” (2017 Ingold)

“’Verbal Hygiene’ on the Radio: An Exploration into Perceptions of Female Voices on Public Radio and How They Reflect Language and Gender Ideologies within American Culture” (2017 Barrett)

“Divided Bodies: Nation Formation and the Literary Marketplace in Salman Rushdie’s Shame and Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India” (2016 Mellon)

“Metaformal Trends in Contemporary American Poetry” (2016 Muller)

“Power Through Privilege: Surveying Perspectives on the Humanities in Higher Education in the Contemporary American Campus Novel” (2016 Klein)

“‘I always cure you when I come’: The Caregiver Figure in the Novels of Jane Austen” (2016 McKenzie)

“English Imperial Selfhood and Semiperipheral Witchcraft in The Faerie Queene, Daemonologie, and The Tempest” (2016 Davis)

“With Slabs, Bones, and Poles: De/Constructing Narratives of Hurricane Katrina in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones , Natasha Trethewey’s Beyond Katrina , and Selah Saterstrom’s Slab” (2016 Lang)

“The Ghost of That Ineluctable Past”: Trauma and Memory in John Banville’s Frames Trilogy” (2016 Berry)

“Breaking Through Walls and Pages: Female Reading and Education in the 18th Century British Novel” (2015 Majewski)

“The Economics of Gender Relations in London City Comedy” (2015 Weisse)

“Objects, People, and Landscapes of Terror: Considering the Sublime through the Gothic Mode in Late 19th Century Novels” (2015 Porter)

“Placing the Body: A Study of Postcolonialism and Environment in the Works of Jamaica Kincaid” (2015 Hutcherson)

“Wandering Bodies: The Disruption of Identities in Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones ” (2015 Martin)

“Mythogenesis as a Reconfiguration of Space in an ‘Alternate World’: The Legacy of Origin and Diaspora in Experimental Writing” (2015 Pittenger)

“Cunning Authors and Bad Readers: Gendered Authorship in ‘Love in Excess'” (2015 Bruening)

“‘The Thing Became Real’: New Materialisms and Race in the Fiction of Nella Larsen” (2015 Parkinson)

“‘Projections of the Not-Me’: Redemptive Possibilities of the Gothic within Wuthering Heights and Beloved” (2015 Glasser)

“Distortions, Collections, and Mobility: South Asian Poets and the Space for Female Subjectivity” (2015 Wilkey)

“From Text to Tech: Theorizing Changing Experimental Narrative Structures” (2015 Ortega)

“A Moral Being in an Aesthetic World: Being in the Early Novels of Kurt Vonnegut” (2015 Hubbard)

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  1. Literary Analysis: Thesis Statements

  2. Thesis Writing

  3. How To Write The Perfect Academic Paragraph

  4. Learn in 3 Minutes How to Write the Perfect Literature Review

  5. Quick Terms: Thesis Statement

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  1. Sample Theses : Department of English : UMass Amherst

    Sample Theses The following represent a sampling of outstanding English honors thesis projects. “This Is Hardly the Happy Ending I Was Expecting”: NIER ’s Rejection of the Heteronormative in Fairy Tales (PDF) Author: Emily Cerri Thesis Type: Independent Thesis Approved By: Caroline Yang and TreaAndrea Russworm, English Department Published 2019

  2. English Theses and Dissertations

    Intercessory Power: A Literary Analysis of Ethics and Care in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Alice Walker’s Meridian, and Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones Are Not My Child, Kelly Mills. PDF. The Power of Non-Compliant Logos: A New Materialist Approach to Comic Studies, Stephanie N. Phillips. PDF.

  3. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Example: Thesis statement Despite Oscar Wilde’s Aestheticist claims that art needs no justification or purpose, his work advocates Irish nationalism, women’s suffrage, and socialism. You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps: Start with a question Write your initial answer Develop your answer Refine your thesis statement

  4. thesis examples

    These sample thesis statements are provided as guides, not as required forms or prescriptions. The thesis may focus on an analysis of one of the elements of fiction, drama, poetry or nonfiction as expressed in the work: character, plot, structure, idea, theme, symbol, style, imagery, tone, etc.

  5. MA Thesis Examples

    MA Thesis Examples – WFU Department of English Recent Graduate Theses The subjects of MA theses have included studies of individual poets or dramatists, novelists or autobiographers, as well as explorations of literary movements, themes or periods. Some of our more recent titles are: