The capstone of the Master of Arts in English degree is the master's essay course. Rather than a thesis or dissertation, the essay provides an opportunity for lengthy reflection about selected works or authors. The purpose is to give students a final opportunity to develop an area of expertise while they refine their writing, revising, and editing skills. The essay, presented to a review committee of a faculty advisor and two additional faculty readers, should demonstrate a high level of cogency and stylistic grace. The Master’s Essay (GENG 699) is its own course with its own unique registration and counts for 3 credits toward the Master of Arts in English degree. Choosing a Topic The Master’s Essay is designed to refine your skill in substantially re-thinking and re-envisioning a previously considered idea. Ideally, the topic should evolve from a paper already written for a graduate course, although it need not be the final or major paper for the course. Revision is an important part of the writing process; the best essays inevitably result from getting started early, allowing time for this important revision step. Choosing an Advisor Once you have determined your topic, you should approach a faculty member whom you would like to have as your advisor for the project. Students should seek an advisor one full semester before they plan to write. The advisor must have expertise in the subject and should ideally be someone who has taught you in a graduate course. When a faculty member agrees to supervise your essay, you will establish together how often to meet and when drafts of your work will be completed for review. The essay advisor will read the primary text(s), recommend secondary materials, and offer feedback and guidance during the writing and revision process. Choosing Readers In consultation with your advisor, choose a secondary reader--a person generally familiar with the subject area of the essay. A third reader may be another UST faculty member--familiar or not with the subject matter--or an academic from outside the UST community. These readers, together with your advisor, form the Review Committee that will read the essay and participate in your review conversation upon completion of the project.
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