English 4900: Senior Capstone Seminar
Arts and Sciences (COAS) 203
The MGA Catalog indicates that English 4900 is "a capstone course required of candidates in the traditional track of the B.A. in English. The course engages students in advanced critical analysis, leading to an original research project. Students produce an extended critical essay based on the research and make an oral presentation of their research." As the word "capstone" suggests, this course is the culmination of the English major's journey in advanced undergraduate studies of literature. The Senior Capstone Seminar aims to refine and showcase the knowledge and skills students have achieved through the English B.A. curriculum.
At least a "C" in English 3010 and 90 or more earned credit hours.
No textbooks are required for the course, though all students should have access to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook or some other authoritative handbook containing full coverage of the 2016 MLA style update.
Faculty advisors: It is a requirement of the course that each student formally secure one of the department's faculty members to guide and mentor the student throughout the capstone process. Choose capstone advisors carefully, aiming most importantly for faculty who have specific expertise in the content area or critical or theoretical concerns central to your project. Note that faculty members should not be expected to advise more than one capstone student per semester.
Reflective responses: periodic writings reflecting on the challenges and achievements you experience throughout the capstone project. Reflective responses are informal, journal-like writings of 250-500 words; you will receive specific prompts for these assignments as they come up.
Statement of topic: a brief (150-200 word) statement of the central question(s) you plan to address in the seminar paper.
Project prospectus: a 500-700 word description of your plans for development of the seminar paper (once your topic is approved).
Annotated bibliography: an initial working bibliography of sources pertinent to your topic (eight sources minimum).
Seminar paper: the guts of the course: an essay of 20-25 pages (exclusive of works cited pages), written in five-page increments, workshopped by the class and reviewed by the professor as they are composed. The paper will establish a critical or theoretical context for the project, engage significant and substantial scholarly commentary on its central issues, and analyze and explore the most essential implications of the project. As befitting a capstone experience, papers will be carefully reasoned, well-supported with evidence, and of polished quality in grammar, diction, mechanics, and documentation of sources.
Peer workshops: thoughtful and critically helpful responses, both oral and written, to installments of classmates' papers as they are composed.
Oral presentation: a carefully rehearsed 15-20 minute presentation of the most compelling portion(s) of the seminar paper, with five minutes for question and answer with the audience, to be delivered in a professional setting to the faculty of the English Department and other interested members of the MGA community.
Attendance: Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class for face-to-face meetings on time every day. Students with more than two absences cannot pass the class, regardless of the reasons for any of the absences—I make no distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any major work you happen to miss, especially when you let me know about the absence missing class: call me or email anytime you simply must miss class. Some weeks, in lieu of class meetings, students will have one-on-one conferences with the instructor: missed scheduled conferences count as absences.
Required course components: Regardless of your mathematical average in the course, you must complete all assignments in a timely manner to pass the class: the statement of topic, project prospectus, annotated bibliography, reflective responses, seminar paper, and oral presentation.
Late penalties: Even more than in other classes, keeping up with the workload is essential in a capstone course: any assignment turned in late will incur a 10% grade penalty on the assignment for each calendar day late. Five-page installments of the seminar paper turned in late will incur a 10% grade penalty on the overall paper grade. Oral presentations may not be given late, and failure to deliver the oral presentation to the faculty at the scheduled time results in failure of the course.
Incompletes: Incompletes are exceedingly rare, virtually nonexistent, in the capstone course. If you are unable to make satisfactory progress on your work, you must withdraw from the course by the published deadline (March 7th) and retake the course at the soonest available opportunity.
Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Student Conduct Officer. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is an "F" for the entire course, not just the assignment in question.
Note that the Department of English's definition of plagiarism is operative in this class:
Withdrawal Policies: Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy found at http://www.mga.edu/registrar/dropadd.aspx before dropping/withdrawing from the class. Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date (Wednesday, March 7, 2018). After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” A WF is calculated in the GPA as an “F.” Instructors may assign “W” grades for students with excessive absences (beyond the number of absences permitted by the instructor’s stated attendance policy). Students may withdraw from a maximum of five courses throughout their enrollment at Middle Georgia State. Beyond the five-course limit, withdrawals result in “F” grades.
Class Behavior Expectations and Consequences for Violations: Middle Georgia State University students are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the MGA Student Code of Conduct. Student Code of Conduct, Responsibilities, Procedures, and Rights are found at
MGA Policy on Disability Accommodations: Students seeking academic accommodations for a special need must contact the Middle Georgia State University Office of Disability Services in Macon at (478) 471-2985 or in Cochran at (478) 934-3023. See http://www.mga.edu/disability-services/
“Technical Policy” (re: plagiarism detection): a plagiarism prevention service is used in evaluation of written work submitted for this course. As directed by the instructor, students are expected to submit or have their assignments submitted through the service in order to meet requirements for this course. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.
End of Course Evaluations: Student evaluations of faculty are administered online at the end of each term/session for all courses with five or more students. Students will receive an email containing a link to a survey for each course in which they are enrolled. All responses are anonymous.
Cell phones/personal electronics: The use of cell phones, ipods, and other hand-held personal electronics devices is not permitted during face-to-face class-time. All such devices must be kept out of sight for the duration of class—off of desks and out of laps. I will count absent any student texting or viewing a personal electronic device, and if the problem persists I will ask students not abiding by this policy to leave the classroom. Students who wish to take notes on laptops may do so, but only if they sit in the back row.
Final grade composition