In order to meet the college-wide requirement of a senior exercise, the English department requires its majors both to take an examination based on a set reading list and to write either a nine- to twelve-page critical essay or a creative project of similar length and scope. The English department regards the examination and critical essay or creative project as equally important.
The examination, based on a short reading list of twelve major works or authors of lyric poems, will consist of three parts, to be completed in two timed settings, normally on the Saturday of the week after spring break. The morning two-hour examination will consist of short-answer questions, as well as identifications of and brief commentary on passages reproduced from works on the reading list. The afternoon two-hour examination will require students to write an essay analyzing a lyric poem by one of the poets on the reading list. The reading list will be different for each graduating class, so you should request from the chair of the English department the reading list for your particular class.
In addition to taking the examination, every English major will also submit a critical essay or creative project. Only those students who have met the requirements for the emphasis in creative writing will be permitted to submit creative work in partial fulfillment of the senior exercise in English. The department envisions that most majors will take the opportunity to revise work previously submitted in their classes. Students may choose one of their best essays or pieces of creative work (perhaps several pieces in the case of poetry) and, by substantially rethinking, rewriting, and (in many cases) doing additional research, attempt to produce a final version that represents the very best work of which they are capable. In a smaller number of cases, students with a strong interest in a subject or author not studied in their written work for previous classes may choose to pursue an entirely new project in order to complete this second part of the senior exercise. In either case, student work on the critical essay or creative project should be undertaken and completed independently.
The first step in the procedures for the critical essay or creative project will be for the student to submit to the chair of the English department, usually at a date prior to Thanksgiving break, a brief description of the topic: authors, works, or critical problems to be discussed; the nature of the creative work to be pursued. Students must inform the chair if the project will be a revision of work previously submitted in a course. If so, they should submit a copy of the original essay or creative work along with the proposal. A department committee will examine the topics to ensure that they are appropriate for a culminating exercise in the English major at Kenyon. The second step will be the submission of the completed project, normally in the first month of spring semester.