Departmental Honors

Performance Studies majors may apply in their junior year to participate in the Departmental Honors Program. The Honors Program is intended to provide highly qualified students an opportunity to complete a substantial research investigation; to introduce students to graduate-level, faculty-mentored research; and to provide formal honorary recognition to students who have excelled in course work and in an independent research activity.

Students pursuing the honors program begin by proposing a thesis topic and enlisting a faculty member to serve as advisor. Students then:

  1. Complete a literature review.
  2. Implement the proposed research plan.
  3. Attend quarterly review meetings with the faculty advisor.
  4. Write a thesis (at least 30 double-spaced pages in length) based on the completed project.
  5. Defend the thesis during an oral examination, before a committee consisting of the faculty advisor, a secondary faculty reader, and at least one other faculty member.

Recent Honors projects

Sydney Howe examined the development of an original script from historical materials about Cuban-American relations during 1959, the first year of Fidel Castro's regime. She examined the research materials that gave rise to the script and explored the effects of individual political performance and interpersonal interaction on the direction of international relations. The thesis also documented important aspects of the rehearsal process and of the performance of the piece, titled Re: No Laughing in the War Room spring 2009, as well as reflecting on audience responses to the performance.

Maggie Killacky examined the how the use of storytelling and improvisational techniques, pedagogical methods inspired by creative drama teachers, enables children to better understand cultural norms and the meaning of fixed and unfixed identities, surpassing the limitations of a conventional education. Her thesis involved extensive work with primary and secondary sources, including writings by and about Winifred Ward and Vivian Paley, as well as observational work at King Lab Elementary School in Evanston.

Georgette Kelly studied the construction of twentieth-century literary narratives about North Africa. By examining novels written both by North Africans and by Westerners, she sought to determine how an author's cultural identity shapes narrative style and voice. In addition to traditional modes of literary analysis, she integrated performance as a way of studying the narrative structure of fiction, translating and adapting Tahar BenJelloun's novel L'Enfant de sable (The Child of Sand) for a performance in spring 2007. She completed the adaptation over the summer with an Undergraduate Research Grant, which will also took her to Marrakech to collect dramaturgical information.