The first two of approximately 12 senior English students presented their thesis papers Tuesday afternoon in PAC A-9.
Laura Little presented her paper, entitled “Finding meaning in loss: A blend of fiction and nonfiction work,” which “considered what strength is when facing death and how to find meaning in the grieving process,” Little said.
Little analyzed three different texts: “The Man from 23B,” “Geodes” and “Red Grapes.” Her goal was to use the different perspective each presented to see whether or not it is possible to honor loved ones who die while still mourning the loss.
“My favorite part of the process was discovering the same underlying message in the different works I had written for previous classes. As I edited them this semester, it was fun to see how they changed and took shape as my perspective shifted focus,” said Little.
Wyatt Keener also presented his paper entitled “Gawain’s Gash: Images and Idolatry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The paper was centered on a British Medieval epic poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which details the adventures of a young knight at King Arthur’s table.
Keener’s paper analyzed the various symbolism and themes that abound throughout the story. For instance, a shield the Knight carries “represents perfection, because Gawain either believes He is perfect or can attain perfection,” said Keener. “The color green symbolizes disloyalty and love.”
One challenge Keener faced in preparing his thesis was the text of the poem itself, as it was written in an old, Middle English that proved difficult to translate.
“I had previously taken Dr. Richardson’s History of English, and that helped a lot, but it was much more difficult than, say, Chaucer,” Keener said. “I studied with the translation book open and next to me.”
English thesis papers are the Capstone projects for senior English majors. Students spend approximately 3 months expanding one of their previous English projects and then present it to their professors and peers, according to Jason Crawford, assistant professor of English.
“I think we’re off to a really great start,” said Crawford. “I enjoy seeing the mix of creative projects and critical analysis papers students choose to prepare. For an English student, this is the culmination of their academic career, so these presentations represent a significant moment in their lives.”
The remaining students will present at various times over the next two weeks.