The Project Comps option, which may be undertaken individually or collaboratively, offers a multidisciplinary opportunity for the Senior Integrative Exercise, allowing students to integrate their work as English majors with areas of expertise in another field. The aim of Project Comps is to produce original work of significant critical, analytical, and/or aesthetic interest through a synthesis of the literary history and critical analysis typical of the English major and work in music, science, digital or visual arts, performance, computer science, or other fields.  Project Comps involves logistical requirements, synthesis of literary interpretation with competence in other media, and a high level of independence.

A. Prerequisites:

  1. You must have attained all necessary theoretical, technical, and artistic skills and background from coursework in and beyond the English department and relevant experiences outside of coursework.
  2. You must have a conversation with an English Department faculty member (and with other faculty if relevant) during Spring term of the Junior year to discuss the project under consideration, its appropriateness, feasibility and logistics.

B. In Fall of senior year you submit a formal project proposal.

The goal of a proposal is to provide a clear rationale for the proposed project. It should include a persuasive case for the project’s appropriateness as a Senior Integrative Exercise in the English major, demonstrating that you have thought deeply and thoroughly about the work proposed, showing that you have adequate preparation and access to the necessary resources, and revealing how the proposed project is related to specific literary, critical, or theoretical questions encountered in the English major. How will it demonstrate your literary interpretive skills? Why is this the best form in which to offer your interpretation?

The proposal is written only after you have completed the preliminary stages of your work; it is the means by which you establish the viability of your proposed project. In sum, the proposal should provide—to the best of your ability—a detailed “road map” or plan for your work. The proposal must be typed and double-spaced, cogently argued, coherently organized, and carefully written. 

Examples of previous proposals are available in Dropbox.

The submission packet should include:

  1. A Project Comps Proposal Cover Sheet.
  2. A proposal of at least five pages, excluding the cover sheet and bibliography. The proposal must include the following elements:
    • Your Student ID [NOT NAME]
    • A working title
    • A brief description of the topic, paying careful attention to scope and feasibility.
    • A precise statement of the question that motivates and justifies the proposed project. Remember that your question is not the same as your topic. For example, if your topic is Alice in Wonderland you need to think carefully about the specific question or questions about Alice that you want to address and explain why your chosen medium is the one best suited to addressing it. Thus, for example, Lauren Millikan (’11) built an electronic edition of selected chapters from Alice to find out “1) how the experience of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Chapters 5, 6, and 7) changes when experienced through the medium of the internet and 2) how this medium can be used to track how Wonderland has evolved in readers’ imaginations.”
    • A detailed description of the anticipated finished product.
    • An explanation of the logistics, timeline, and feasibility of the project. (What will be done when?)
    • A discussion of the materials, media, and approaches you will use to develop the project.
      • For projects involving visual and material art objects, a specific account of the nature of such objects, their material features, and plans for exhibiting them.
      • For performance projects, the description should offer a specific account of the nature of the performance, its specific features, and plans for production (who, where, when, how? You need to have set a schedule and reserved space).
      • For projects involving collaboration, what commitments have you received from your collaborators?
    • A description of the importance and significance of your proposed project. (i.e., What will this project add to our understanding of the chosen topic? Why will this be worth the time to undertake? How does your argument contribute to the larger critical conversation about this topic? ) In this section you will need to identify the primary critics, artists, and scholars who have defined the parameters of the conversation you are entering.
  3. An annotated bibliography of relevant materials (primary and secondary). At this stage, you should have considered at least eight sources. Your annotations should briefly describe how the sources are relevant to your research/argument. You must also indicate any potentially relevant sources not yet read.

Things to consider in writing your proposal: Style (including the strategic and judicious use of first-person voice to underscore your intent); Audience (intelligent, well-read peers and faculty who may not necessarily be familiar with your specific texts); and Organization (including an effective introduction and conclusion, and a logical way of addressing the elements of #2, above).

C. The Final Project will consist of:

  1. The finished project (which may vary in length, medium, and number of components), due at the end of winter term.
  2. An interpretive essay of about 10 pages that identifies the project’s central question and situates the project within relevant scholarly, literary, and artistic contexts.  The essay should examine the interpretive choices made in the project, and link its interdisciplinary work to the English major.  The essay must include a bibliography of works consulted for the project.
  3. A public sharing of the work (e.g., exhibition or performance), in cases where this is appropriate, before the end of winter term.
  4. A public presentation about the work at the English Comps Symposium in the spring term.
  5. NB: For collaborative projects involving the vision and labor of more than one student, each person involved must submit an individual proposal and interpretive essay.  Where appropriate, certain aspects of any proposal for a collaborative project may be shared among all proposals for that project, but each student involved in such a project must write an individual interpretive essay.

D. What does an ideal Project Comps look like?

The Project

  • Displays exceptional interdisciplinary insight or originality, and/or sense of scope
  • Interdisciplinary vision is expertly realized within a medium
  • Work demonstrates mastery of relevant aesthetic forms
  • Work is of high quality and sophistication
  • Work clearly exhibits (an) extremely effective structure(s)
  • Is almost entirely unencumbered by mechanical error

The Interpretive Essay

  • Clearly articulates a viable goal and compelling rationale for the work
  • Shows mastery of relevant aesthetic and critical concepts, texts, and contexts
  • Exhibits an extremely effective organizing structure
  • Is precisely and/or eloquently written
  • Is almost entirely free from mechanical error

Examples of successful projects are in Dropbox.