KC Johnson

Senior Thesis Class (fall 2021)

Contact Information:

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance and participation (15%): Attendance is mandatory for this course. Participation is also essential to this seminar.  Your informed response to assigned readings, class discussion, and your colleagues’ ideas is vital to the success of everyone in the room. The autobiographical statement is part of the participation assignment. Unexcused absences will be penalized by one grade shift (A-minus to B-plus, for example) in your final semester grade.
  2. Research log (5%): The research log should record how you are researching (e.g. which search terms in which database), what you are finding (notes from these resources), and your reflections or inspirations (or problems) as you go along.  Your weekly log should be emailed to me each Sunday night, starting the first full week of the semester; extensions are not permitted.
  3. Annotated bibliography (10%): This assignment will allow you to determine the key issues, debates, and approaches relevant to your chosen topic, and to position your ideas into broader scholarly debates.
  4. Research proposal (10%): The research proposal should outline the key questions you will pursue, sources you will use, and structure your thesis will take.
  5. Presentation (20%): At the end of the semester, you will be asked to make a formal (5-7 minute) presentation on your research topic.
  6. Written assignments, including thesis chapter (40%): The chapter will be the culmination of this semester’s work, and is due at end of term. This assignment includes the draft, the completed introduction, and two position papers. All papers should be submitted to me via email. All assignments also should be submitted to your advisor.


Due dates:

  • September 14: Autobiographical statement
  • September 14 (at very latest): confirmation of advisor
  • September 21: Preliminary bibliography
  • October 5: Position paper
  • October 19: Thesis proposal
  • October 19: Annotated bibliography
  • October 26-8: NCUR proposal (tentative)
  • November 17: Draft introduction
  • December 20: First chapter

Required Text:

Course Schedule:

August 26: Introduction

Aug. 31-Sept. 2: Individual meetings with instructor via Zoom. Sign up for time slot via e-mail.

September 7: No classes, per college calendar

September 9: Institutional Review Board issues, with Prof. Napoli. We’ll meet in as a full group via Zoom at 11am.

Review IRB requirements before class

Contemporary IRB-related controversies:

September 14: Approaches to Research Problems

  • Reading: Craft of Research, Prologue, Chapters 1-3, pp. 273-6.

Autobiographical Statement due: 2 pages. Your statement should focus on how your personal background and intellectual interests have led to your research area. Please speculate on ways to connect with your readers (chapter 2) and indicate what your key questions are at this point (chapter 3).

Submit the paper to me (via e-mail) and your advisor. Each student will briefly summarize the information to the class. This date is also the final deadline for selecting an advisor.

September 16: No classes, per college calendar

September 21: Preliminary Bibliography

Be prepared to summarize one source for your topic (in a couple of minutes) to the class.

September 23: Research Day

September 28: Library Session (with Prof. Cramer): We’ll meet in as a full group via Zoom at 11am.

Sept. 30: Research Day

Week of October 5: In class workshop: position paper–group 1

  • Reading: Craft of Research, chapters 4-6, and appendix (as relevant for your area).

Position Paper due: 2-3 pages. Indicate your research question and then choose 2-3 relevant sources, provide tentative bibliographical data for each, and engage with the sources as shown in Chapter 6 in light of your research questions. Submit the paper to me (via e-mail), and be prepared to discuss your findings to the class.

Week of October 12: In-class workshop: thesis proposal–group 2

  • Reading: Craft of Research, chapters 7-8.

Draft of proposal due: 2-3 pages. Indicate your working claim and outline the main reasons that will support it. Discuss the evidence you will use to support your conclusions, and their significance. Submit the draft to me (via e-mail), and be prepared to discuss your findings to the class.

Week of October 19: In-class workshop: annotated bibliography–group 3

Draft of Annotated Bibliography due: 5 sources minimum. In addition to designating the source’s thesis, annotations should respond to the source’s key arguments in relation to your topic. Submit the draft to me (via e-mail), and be prepared to discuss your findings to the class.

Thesis Proposal due, along with indication of approval from your advisor.

Week of October 26: In-class workshop: annotated bibliography–group 4

Annotated Bibliography due: 8 sources minimum. In addition to designating the source’s thesis, annotations should respond to the source’s key arguments in relation to your topic. Be prepared to discuss your findings to the class.

Draft NCUR submission due (via e-mail).

Week of November 2:  In-class workshop: Path to Introduction

Week of November 9: In-class presentation: Scholars Program graduate

Week of November 17: In-class workshop: constructing the chapter

Draft Introduction due.

Week of November 30: Individual presentations

Week of December 7: Individual presentations

December 20 @ 11.59pm: Chapter and draft introduction (20pp. or so) due, via e-mail


In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations you must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services at 718-951-5538. The Center is located at 138 Roosevelt Hall.

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

“Academic Dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion, as provided herein.”

– CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity. Adopted by the Board of Trustees 6/28/2004

Please go to <http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/policies/&gt; for further information about the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this year-long course, you will have:

  • facility in reading, summarizing, and evaluating a variety of texts that provide material for your research project
  • the capacity to pose a research question and to imagine and implement methods address this question, including finding credible library and electronic sources
  • competence in crafting arguments using supportive evidence and logic
  • proficiency in the use of quotations, paraphrases, and appropriate documentation for scholarly publication
  • capacity to present your ideas effectively orally
  • a talent for engaging in intellectual conversation about wide variety of topics and academic disciplines
  • skills to give useful and respectful feedback to colleagues on their thinking, writing, and oral presentations

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