CAN YOU PROVIDE MORE EXAMPLES OF CAPSTONE PROJECTS IN THE FIELD OF LITERATURE

Comparative analysis of major themes in the works of two authors:
For a capstone project, a student could conduct an in-depth comparative analysis of major themes portrayed in the works of two influential authors. The student would select two authors known for addressing similar themes in their writings, such as human nature, social issues, or the relationship between humanity and nature/the divine. The student would then closely analyze a selection of notable works from each author to identify how they portrayed and developed those major themes. The analysis could focus on narrative techniques, character development, symbolic elements, philosophical ideas, and how the themes evolved or were treated differently between the two authors’ bodies of work. This provides an opportunity for valuable higher-level analysis of important literary themes across multiple texts.

Exploration of a literary period/movement through selected works:
For their capstone, a student may focus on a particular literary period or movement, and conduct close readings and analyses of several representative works from that period/movement. For example, a student interested in Romanticism could explore core Romantic ideals by closely examining poetry and novels by English Romantic poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. Through analysis of stylistic elements, thematic content, narrative structure, symbolism and other devices in several exemplary works by different Romantic authors, the student could develop a rich understanding of the key aspects of Romantic literature and how they were manifested across a variety of works from that era.

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Cultural/historical analysis of the reception of a notable work of literature:
This type of capstone project would entail exploring how a particularly renowned or influential literary work was received within its own cultural/historical context, but also how its critical reception and cultural influence may have changed over time. For example, a student could analyze 19th century American and British reviews and criticism of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick from its publication in 1851 up through the early 20th century, as well as how the status and interpretation of the novel changed in the 20th century as critical theory evolved. Through examining contemporary reviews alongside modern critical essays and commentary, the student traces how readers and critics understood and appraised this seminal work within the culture of its own time in contrast with later generations.

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Critical editing of a literary text:
For a capstone focused on editing and textual scholarship, a student could engage in a critical editing project of a significant literary work. This would involve locating and consulting multiple early published editions and manuscripts of the text to produce a scholarly critical edition. The student editor would need to carefully transcribe the text, establish a copy-text, determine emendations based on variant sources, and produce a scholarly apparatus. They would also provide detailed introductions contextualizing the textual history and rationale for editorial decisions. Editing a work would allow immersive engagement with the construction of a text and development of editorial theory and practices.

Focused spatial/architectural analysis of settings in works of one author:
For their capstone, a student could conduct a spatial analysis that closely examines the representation of architectural and environmental spaces and settings across multiple works by a notable author. For example, a student interested in Victor Hugo may analyze descriptions and symbolic/functional uses of spaces like Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Paris sewers, or various homes/interiors in Hugo’s novels Notre Dame de Paris and Les Misérables. Through identifying recurring spatial themes and studying how places shape characters and drive plots, the student develops expertise in spatial analysis as a method for understanding an author’s works at a deep level.

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As these examples illustrate, literature capstone projects offer opportunities for advanced original scholarship through varied methods like comparative analysis, period studies, historical reception tracing, textual editing, spatial analysis and other interpretive approaches. By delving deeply into literary works through such focused projects, students gain expertise that enriches their overall understanding of the field.

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