As you design a comps project that you will pursue throughout your senior year, it is important to keep several things clearly in mind.

1. Choose your topic carefully. Build on your strengths by utilizing a base of knowledge you have already acquired. This is not the time to launch into an entirely new area of study. Make sure that the questions you choose to pursue are compelling enough to sustain your interest throughout the process. To help explore a number of ideas, there is a Comps Pre-Proposal Worksheet you will complete in spring of your junior year that will help you explore interests and get feedback from department members on the viability of your proposed topics.

2. Seek guidance early and often. No matter how you choose to focus your comps paper, it is essential that you get guidance throughout the project. Consulting with faculty members about your proposal will be required at several junctures throughout the comps process: 

  • Prior to submitting a pre-proposal worksheet in late May
  • Prior to submitting your proposal in the fall
  • Prior to submitting your first paper in the winter, and
  • Well before Spring Break, while you are revising your first paper before submitting the final version in the spring

3. Keep in mind that this paper will not contain everything you have learned about religion. Neither will it necessarily be the most significant nor meaningful educational experience of your Carleton career just because it is “comps.” By the same token, you are wise to approach this project as an opportunity to demonstrate (to yourself, to faculty, to your fellow students) what you have learned about some aspect of religion and how to study it.

4. Claudia Peterson is the reference librarian assigned to the religion department. Please consider making an appointment with her to discuss bibliographic research strategies.

5. As with most educational opportunities, you will get roughly as much out of the comps process as you put into it. We urge you to be deliberate and conscientious about each phase of the work. A year-long project of this sort cannot be done successfully by “cramming” the week before it is due.