American and New England Studies

Introduction

This information has been prepared to answer basic questions about the thesis/project requirement of the master of arts in American and New England Studies. It outlines the nature and scope of the thesis and project, describes the process of preparing and submitting a proposal, and indicates how students are expected to work with advisors and readers.

Students should begin thinking seriously about the project and thesis after they have completed five courses in the program. Discussions with the American and New England Studies faculty should be part of the process of deciding between a thesis or a project, of exploring potential subjects and of narrowing the focus down to a manageable topic. Theses and projects that have been completed are available for consultation in the American and New England Studies house.

As you think about writing a thesis or project, think about the following: What will be the subject and focus of the thesis or project? What sources will you use and will they be available and adequate? What problems do you foresee? Talk to your advisor, faculty members, and/or director as you begin to identify an appropriate project. Use your advisor as a springboard. Find a thesis advisor by asking a faculty member whose area of interest overlaps with your own. Work with her or him to develop your idea. Remember, you can always change direction and alter as you proceed, but this will help you organize your reading and provide some direction as you enter ANE 675.

Again: begin by talking with any member of the faculty. See faculty members and their fields of interest. It makes sense to work with someone whose areas of research and scholarship parallel your own interests. Talk to as many people as possible and make certain that you read some of the theses and projects housed in the USM Library and in the ANES house. Writing a thesis can be enormously satisfying. Several of our students have had their manuscripts published. But there are advantages and rewards to writing a shorter exit paper. Many of these exit papers have provided the basis for published articles by alumni and we are exploring ways to make this work more accessible to the public. Please don't hesitate to call and discuss these options. We want you to succeed in any way that works for you.