AMERICAN STUDIES THESIS
American Studies Senior Honors Thesis
The goal of an American Studies senior thesis is to write a paper that, with revision, could potentially be submitted for publication in an academic journal. This means, at a minimum, that the paper makes an original contribution to the existing scholarship in an area and uses primary sources. While such manuscripts are usually 35-80 pages long, depending on the field, one should not focus on length. (Indeed, a scholar usually finds that good papers have to be shortened and shortened again before they can be published). Rather, you should focus on doing enough primary research to provide a compelling answer to a well-defined research question that gains its importance through contributing to the field of “American Studies,” broadly defined.
This means, among other things, that you will need to find a model for the type of paper you are trying to write. A model paper does not have to be on the topic you are studying. The most useful models are in one’s field, use a methodology similar to the one’s own, and illustrate what it means to have a good introduction, literature review, and analysis. It is particularly important to find a model when writing in an interdisciplinary field like American Studies, because historians, literary scholars, and social scientists all organize these sections of their papers differently.
Undergraduates learn over the years to write “one draft wonders.” In such an endeavor, one keeps a paper in one’s head and writes it shortly before it is due. Step One is to realize that you will be writing at least three “drafts” of your honors thesis. This is because in a major research project you typically learn the point of your argument as you write, meaning as you explore the nuances of your data. In order for you to complete an acceptable senior thesis by next May, you would be expected to produce a “spew” draft by mid-December, a real first draft by late February, and a second draft by mid-April. This means, and note this well, that you would need to complete your data collection process by December 1 at the absolute latest.
Before you leave for summer vacation you will need to be well started on your thesis. This means that by the end of the sixth week of the spring quarter of junior year you should submit to the program director a thesis prospectus that outlines the area you want to study and potential research questions in this area. You should include a preliminary bibliography that reflects a fairly thorough search of books and journal articles in your topic area. Your prospectus should outline a methodology for studying your research question. In order to complete this assignment you will need, most importantly, an ADVISOR. You need to start that courtship process early.
Finally, the advisor should be prepared to provide the program director with an evaluation of a students' request for research funds.
Previous American Studies Thesis Topics
|Ayres||Alexander||2016||Reinterpreting Regionalism: The Case of Chicago Metropolis 2020||Henry Binford|
Reconceiving Reproduction: Health Activism in Radical Chicago, 1969-1975
|Cooper||Arielle||2016||Setting the Table: Roots of the 20th Century Ethnic Revival in American Cookbooks, 1960-1964||Anthony Chen|
|Elvove||Zachary||2016||Arrested Development: The Purgatory of Adolescence at Northwestern University, Since 1971||William Haarlow|
|Goldstein||Lily||2016||Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue: Jewish Criticism of Isreal, 1967-Present||Robert Orsi|
|Henderson||Molly||2016||Rebuilding Dream Images: Nostalgia for the Home, the Family, and the Housewife in the Suburban Sitcom||Nick Davis|
|Kahn||Russell||2016||Coming of Age in Contemporary American Cinema, and the New Nostalgia Mode||Mimi White|
|Kenney||Ryan||2016||Community Conditions and Federal Ambitions: How Uptown Addressed Mental Health and Poverty, 1968-1975||Henry Binford|
|Kouimelis||Anastasia||2016||Reassigning Responsibility: How End Demand Illinois Discount Female Agency in Prostitution||Heather Schoenfeld|
|Lombard||Eilis||2016||Finding Democracy in the American Underground: The Influence of Dostoevsky on Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man||Ivy Wilson|
|Metzger||Scott||2016||Syringe Exchange Programs in the United States: Uncertainty Discourse and the Federal Funding Ban, 1988- Present||Aaron Norton|
|Na||Emily||2016||True Complexions: Constructions of Black Female Beauty before 1865||Julia Stern|
|Rotter-Laitman||Natalie||2016||Race Traitor or Planned Parenthood Puppet: Making Sense of Obama in Pro-Life Black Genocide Argumentation||Nicola Beisel|
|Swartz||Suzanne||2016||We Still Have to Talk about Hot Guys: A Feminist Defense of Twilight Moms and Women's Media||Maria Mastronardi|
|Warzyn||Tess||2016||Gender Conflict as Narrative Strategy: How House Hunters Survived the 2007 Mortgage Crisis||Helen Thompson|