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Department of Literature and Language  

Senior Seminar

The Senior Research Seminar (Lit 491)

Literature Major

Lit 491, the senior research seminar, is a synthesizing and unifying course devoted to important issues of literary philosophy, criticism and history, and to the aims and methods of literary research. It is designed to serve as a capstone to the student's major. Senior standing or the permission of the department chair is required to register in the seminar.

The major requirement of the senior research seminar is the completion of a long, thoughtful, scholarly paper on a literary topic. Students may develop a paper written for a previous class--recognizing that you will need to deepen the research and the thinking--or you may begin a new project. All papers will be coordinated with the instructor of the seminar. Students must also secure another faculty member who will serve as the second reader; they should try to choose someone with expertise in the subject area.

Students work with the seminar director to develop a schedule--usually with intermediate deadlines--and must ensure that they have completed the writing in a way satisfactory to the writer and to the two readers well before the end of the term. Departmental expectations are high for both form and content. Students must work closely with their advisors and follow the required format exactly. As the semester comes to a close, students present their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Each year the faculty of the Department of Literature and Language will award the Bryan Prize to the author of the best senior paper.

Senior Research Paper 

Student Presentation

Procedures and Format

  • Senior papers must include a search of the relevant literature available in the UNC Asheville Library System.
  • All research must be documented according to the style sheet provided in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or at a reliable online site
  • A bibliography, titled "List of Works Cited" must be included a the end of the paper on separate sheets.
  • A standard length for a senior paper is about twenty typewritten pages.
  • Students are responsible for preparing and signing a Release Form as well as a title page (Creative Writing) (Literature) by filling out the proper forms and submitting them with your paper.
  • Students will electronically submit their final papers, which will be saved as PDF files and archived in that format. Students are responsible for providing their first reader with a copy of the final paper’s cover sheet, including the signature of each faculty advisor, as well as the signed release forms allowing library archival of the essays.


Senior Seminar in Creative Writing (Lang 497)

LIterature majors with a concentration in Creative Writing are required to take Lang 497, the Senior Seminar in Creative Writing, as their capstone course in the department. Students enrolled will work with the seminar director to develop a schedule with interim deadlines, will acquire a second reader, and will craft a significant manuscript of poetry, creative non-fiction, or drama. Specific procedures and formats for each genre will be explained by the seminar director.

Senior Creative Writing Project

Late in the junior year, students should begin planning for a significant senior project. This project must develop a minimum of a chapbook-length manuscript of poetry, short fiction, or non-fiction prose. More ambitious students can submit full-length manuscripts of poetry, non-fiction prose, a one act play or a novel.  Material from previous workshops may be used, but must reflect substantial revision. New work must be included, the amount of which will be determined by the project advisor.

The department recommends that students select a project advisor and begin discussing project options in their junior year. It is especially important to agree on the length of project and on the final (i.e., inflexible) due date before beginning work on the manuscript. Actual writing should begin no later than the semester prior to the one in which you plan to graduate. You should also select a second reader, usually from the department. The project advisor, in consultation with a second reader, is the ultimate judge of the final acceptability of the manuscript. Senior projects must stand up in comparison with the standards of contemporary literary practice.

Senior Readings

During their final semester, literature majors with the concentration in creative writing are required to give a public reading from their senior project. The program director will schedule the reading in consultation with you and other students (usually from one to three) with whom you will be reading. To facilitate scheduling, you must contact the director in the semester prior to the one in which you plan to graduate. Confer with your project advisor about appropriate material as well as about effective techniques for public reading. Select a portion or portions of your manuscript that can be shared with an audience in no more than 20 minutes.

Last edited by on April 6, 2015