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Skidmore College
English Department

Coda Options and Honors

Coda Requirement

In their senior year, all English majors must engage in a coda experience that synthesizes and reflects back upon work already completed in the major. This coda experience takes the form of a sustained piece of written work such as a research paper or a creative project that challenges students to go beyond previous levels of accomplishment. Goals for this project include the following:

  • Learning to plan and organize the project
  • Learning to work independently through the project’s various stages
  • Demonstrating awareness of the wider critical or artistic context that informs the project being completed
  • Writing prose, poetry, or literary scholarship with increased technical sophistication in handling the conventions and in understanding and achieving the writer’s goals.

The coda requirement is satisfied in most cases by one of the following classes:

  • EN 375 Senior Seminar in Literary Studies
  • EN 381 Advanced Projects in Writing

Some seniors may elect to fulfill the coda requirement by working independently with a project or thesis director:

  • EN 376 Senior Projects
  • EN 389, 390 Senior Thesis 

EN 375 Senior Seminar in Literary Studies

A seminar in which students explore a topic, author, or text while progressing through the stages of writing a research paper of 20–25 pages. Common discussion of individual projects and reading of published scholarship emphasize research as a process of shared inquiry. Students may choose among four topics, two offered in the fall and two in the spring of their senior year. The seminar topics are announced in the spring of their junior year. Senior Seminar is limited to senior English majors. May be repeated once for credit with the permission of the department chair.

EN 376 Senior Projects

Senior Projects offer students an opportunity to work independently, with the guidance of a faculty supervisor, on a project that does not fall under the parameters of Senior Seminar (EN 375), Senior Thesis (EN 389, 390), or Advanced Projects in Writing (EN 381). Such projects might include a “hybrid” work, “hybrid” in its mixing of genres (e.g., a project that combines memoir with a research-based analytical piece or poetry and short fiction) or media (e.g., a project that involves text as well as music, film, or art); a translation project; an interdisciplinary or applied learning project, and so on. Students must find a project supervisor in advance of registering for EN 376 in the fall or the spring of their senior year. May be repeated once for credit.

Prerequisities: completion of the Introductory requirement, permission of the Department, and senior-class standing.

EN 381: Advanced Projects in Writing

Advanced Projects in Writing offers to serious creative writing students an opportunity to produce a significant piece of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction—a novella, for example, or a collection of short pieces. Advanced Projects in Writing combines the group experience of a workshop with the private experience of individual conferences. The course typically requires weekly group meetings in workshop format and individual meetings at least every two weeks. Students must have completed one advanced workshop in the appropriate genre (EN 378 Nonfiction, EN 379 Poetry, EN 380 Fiction) before enrolling in EN 381. Taking EN 377 in the appropriate genre before enrolling in 381 is highly recommended, but not required.

EN 389, 390 Senior Thesis

This coda option offers students a carefully sequenced period of reading, writing, and revising that extends over two semesters. Students may not enroll in EN 390 without first completing EN 389 or its equivalent preparation in one or more 300-level courses. The decision to identify an equivalent for EN 389 is made by the student and the thesis advisor.

All theses must show evidence of research, thoroughness, coherence, and depth of perception. The finished paper must be at least 40 pages, excluding end notes and a bibliography. Students identify a workable thesis topic and plan for research and writing with the guidance of their thesis director. Students interested in fulfilling the coda requirement through a senior thesis should find a thesis director by the end of their junior year. The prospective thesis director should see a written proposal at that time. In the first week of classes, the student and supervisor may revise the proposal and will plan a detailed schedule of the semester’s work; the student registers for EN 389 Preparation for Senior Thesis (or its equivalent) in the fall and EN 390 Senior Thesis in the spring. 

Departmental Honors (see also Honors)

To qualify for departmental honors in English, a senior must complete a coda paper, project, or thesis of the appropriate length that merits a grade of A or A+. In addition, the student must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major and 3.0 overall after no fewer than three semesters at Skidmore.

All students will submit their final projects one week before the last day of class. Students who receive an A or A+ qualify for departmental honors and are required to participate in a coda conference with the instructor and a second faculty reader. Students working on a senior thesis or senior project must find a second reader themselves; students in the senior seminars (EN 375 and 381) will be assigned second readers by the chair of the department in consultation with the seminar instructor. The second faculty reader does not help determine the final grade. Work that receives Honors will be uploaded to Skidmore's institutional repository "Creative Matter" to be preserved by the department.

In order to qualify for departmental honors or distinction (see below), work must meet the following page lengths:

  • Senior Seminar paper: 20–25 pages, excluding end notes, bibliography, or supplementary materials
  • Advanced Projects in Writing: 20–40 pages, depending on genre
  • Senior Thesis: 40 pages, excluding end notes, bibliography, and supplementary materials
  • Senior Project: 20–25 pages, excluding end notes, bibliography, or supplementary materials  

Please note:

  • A fall Senior Seminar student who wishes to be considered for honors must submit the paper at the conclusion of the course. He or she may not carry work into the spring.
  • Senior projects serve to culminate a sequence of courses. Students who wish to be considered for honors for a senior project (for example, a film or journalism project) must complete at least two preparatory courses in that genre.

Work of Distinction

Students whose GPA does not qualify them for departmental honors may receive distinction on their papers or projects if that work has merited an A or A+ by the faculty supervisor. Students receiving distinction are required to participate in a coda conference with the instructor and a second faculty reader. Work that receives Honors will be uploaded to Skidmore's institutional repository "Creative Matter" to be preserved by the department.

A recommended timeline and procedures for faculty can be found here