Junior Year: papers. Majors must write two junior papers. The first junior paper, some 3,000 words in length, will normally involve the close study of a work from one of the non-English-language literatures in which the student has linguistic competence. Its purpose is to develop the student's basic skills as a reader of complex texts. The second junior paper, some 8,000 words in length, should be wider in scope and might serve as the beginnings of a senior thesis. For more information, please the see the Junior Paper Guidelines.
Senior Year: thesis. Majors must write a senior thesis, normally between 15,000 and 20,000 words, that is comparative in nature and reflects the student's ability to relate and analyze materials in the area of study chosen. Creative theses must be accompanied by a substantial critical essay. For more information, please the see the Senior Thesis Guidelines.
Senior Year: exam: Majors must take the senior departmental examination, which tests their ability to analyze texts and make connections among them. The major consults with his or her senior adviser to select specific titles from a broad reading list, reads them, and answers questions based on the student's particular language proficiency and chosen program of study. Students will also be asked to analyze a passage in their primary language. For more information, please the see the Comprehensive Exam Guidelines.
Extensions and Penalties. Any independent work received after the deadline will be subject to a grade reduction of 3 points per day on a scale of 100 (approximately one step on the letter-grade scale, e.g. from B+ to B). Please see the guidelines in the relevant section. The Princeton degree requires that students learn not just to create superior work, but to manage competing obligations and complete work in a timely fashion.
Independent Work Grade: Independent work counts for 50 percent of the total departmental GPA. The independent work grade is calculated by averaging the numerical scores (not the letter grades) on various assignments in the following way. Junior papers together count as 25 percent; the senior comprehensive exam counts as 25 percent, and the senior thesis counts as 50 percent of your independent work grade. The grades received on the two junior papers are combined to arrive at the junior paper grade but are weighted differently (the second junior paper counts twice as much as the first). Juniors must complete and submit both junior papers in order to advance to the senior year; if a junior paper is not submitted, the student will receive a failing grade for the paper and for the junior year independent work, regardless of the grade on the other junior paper.
Examples of Independent Work. To see a list of previous senior theses written in the Princeton Department of Comparative Literature, you may do a search at the Princeton University Catalog of Senior Thesis.