Students should select two advisers, from two different disciplines, in the spring of junior year or early fall of senior year. It may be of help to review the faculty who regularly teach in the program. View their faculty profiles to learn more about their teaching and research interests.

November 4, 2022: Friday, Week 8 of Fall Term

Comps Proposal due by 12:00 PM via email and 1:00 PM via mail delivery

Email your comps proposal to both of your comps advisors by 12:00 PM (CC: Meera Sehgal and Danielle Schultz) and turn in a paper copy to Danielle Schultz by 1:00 PM. The proposal should be 5-7 pages in length, double-spaced, and include a list of works cited and an annotated bibliography. It should have the following elements:

1. Title: Be concise and descriptive. Think of an informative but catchy title. An effective title not only pricks the reader’s interest, but also predisposes them favorably towards the proposal.

2. Project Description: Please provide a clear, concise statement of your research issue or question, and the necessary background or context for your research problem. Please summarize the goals of the paper in one paragraph. What is your topic? What makes your perspective on this topic unique? What is the purpose or goal of the paper? Why does this project matter to you? More importantly, why should it matter to a reader? In the rest of this section, include three questions you plan to explore in your Comps paper (these will likely arise out of your study of the ideas and works of others). Think very carefully about these questions; they should be interesting, worth pursuing, substantive and well formulated.

In summary, in this section you should:

  • State the research issue, or the purpose of the study.
  • Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance.
  •  Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
  • Provide definitions of key concepts (optional.)

3. Methods for Data Production: How will you answer the question you have posed in the project description section? What kinds of techniques will you use to collect data or provide evidence to answer your questions?

This section consists of the following parts:

  • Design – Does it involve textual/content analysis of audiovisual data or is it a multi-method ethnography or a survey or a case study or a historical study? What kind of design did you choose and why? 
  • Sites/Subjects/participants – Who or what will you focus on during your research? How will you select and access people/sites?
  • Techniques – What kinds of methods or techniques do you plan to use to collect evidence and/or data? Why did you choose them?
  • Procedure – How do you plan to carry out your study? What activities are involved? How long will it take?

4. Preparation (relevant course-work): Make a case for how you are prepared to do this project based on your GWSS coursework (core & elective). List all courses you have taken that have prepared you for this project. Be specific and persuasive about your ability to complete your proposed project.

5. Literature Review: What historical, theoretical, and artistic ideas, works and contexts will inform your process and product? Position your project in a broader field of study, discussing it in relation to the ideas and works of others. Be specific: which people, works, writings, ideas, films, images or sounds constitute the field of inspiration within which you are situating your project?

6. Timeline for Completion: Chart a preliminary week-by-week timeline for completion of your paper. For each week, indicate the research that needs to be done, travel to be undertaken, tasks to be completed, and so on. Display in this timeline your ability to think ahead and anticipate the full range of tasks/or research planning associated with your project.

7. Resources: Please explain what types of resources are going to inform your project. These can be academic books, articles, essays, films, databases, websites, interviews, paratextual materials, production documents, biographies, publicity, trailers, archives, etc. Please explain whether the emphasis is going to be on primary or secondary resources and why.

8. Materials: Please describe where most of your resources are available. If not in the library or online, explain how and when you are going to access these materials (interlibrary loan, research trip, face to face vs zoom vs phone interviews, streaming services, etc.).


9. Works Cited Page (in addition to your 5-page proposal): List 8-12 sources informing your project (books, journal articles, films, etc.), using MLA or Chicago (stick to one style consistently).

10. Annotated Bibliography (in addition to your 5-page proposal): Append an annotated bibliography of 4-5 scholarly works that you have consulted and that you plan to delve deeper into for your comps. The bibliography should be formatted according to Chicago or MLS style, and it should include two to four lines of annotation per item. Annotations should indicate what the article or book is about and its relevance to your project.

NOTE: Page Limits for Final Projects: We expect the final essay to range between 25 to 35 pages (maximum), if you are following the traditional research essay format. Creative projects may have different final forms than traditional essays but should aim to have a significant written component (8-10 page essay that might evolve from some of the proposal language) and would be finished only after the creative project is completed.  Ultimately, expectations about the final project’s length and composition should be agreed upon by the student and their two advisors upon approval of the proposal (but must not go beyond the typical journal length article).

The two advisers will read the proposal and inform the student whether to proceed with comps or revise and resubmit the proposal.

January 16, 2023: Monday, Week 3 of Winter Term

Draft of approximately 20 pages due to both comps advisers. The two advisers will provide the student with feedback.

  • The 20 page specification here represents an average. Comps projects differ greatly in length depending on their field. Appropriate length for this preliminary draft and the final draft should be determined in consultation with the advisors.

February 13, 2023: Monday, Week 7 of Winter Term

Complete draft due to both comps advisers, who will provide feedback.

  • Last day of Finals in Winter Term: Three copies of final draft due. Two of these are for the advisors. In the event of disagreement between the two advisors over the status of the paper, a third reader will be designated. The third reader will provide written comments for the student and advisers.

May 4, 2023: Thursday, Week 6 of Spring Term

Comps Talks Presentations

  • One week after the student’s comps talk, s/he will be notified regarding pass/fail. Evaluation will take into consideration both the paper and the talk, the assessment of the advisers, and the comments of the third reader if there is one. Exceptionally strong comps may be nominated for distinction by the program, with the final determination to be made by the college.