THE FINAL STRETCH: SENIOR HONORS THESIS/PROJECT AND THE DEFENSE

Honors College Senior Finishes Out Honors Thesis Process and Shares Experience
From beginning the thesis process, to starting research, to the final oral defense and end results, students take approximately three semesters to complete a thesis in its entirety
Moira Armstrong smiling in front of a bookshelf
for the Senior Honors Thesis/Project. To have their project finalized and submitted to both the Honors College and OhioLINK, they must conduct an oral defense of their work and then submit printed copies. In their final steps for the oral defense process, Moira Armstrong (They/Them) shares their experience of the entire thesis project, from selecting the topic, to defending their work. Moira successfully defended their thesis/project this semester on April 8, 2022. This article is part three of a three-part series of stories (all available for viewing on the Honors College website), each focusing on a student in various parts of the process of completing their Senior Honors Thesis/Project.

As a graduating Honors College senior, Moira is a double major in English and History, with minors in Italian Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Religion Studies, and Ancient, Renaissance, and Medieval Studies. Outside of academics, they are the senior editor for Fusion and a research assistant for the Queer Pandemic oral history project.

In their final step of the process, they have chosen their topic and researched it to its fullest. When asked about the topic they chose, Moria shared, “My thesis analyzes The Decameron, a book about ten narrators from Florence, Italy who decide to leave the city for a country estate due to the devastation of the Black Death and then tell each other stories, through the lens of queer theory.” Moira elaborates, “I first read The Decameron in spring 2020, when I was taking a class on it as well as an queer literature class, and not only did I immediately fall in love with the book but I also started seeing the connections between queer theory and the stories. I wrote my final paper for queer lit on The Decameron and quickly decided that I wanted to adopt this topic for my honors thesis because there was so much more that I wanted to explore that I couldn’t fit into one short paper. I also realized that this topic would allow me to utilize all of my majors and minors, which was really exciting.”

With a topic that encompases so many of their interests, as Moira stated, they were very lucky to find a novel that fit perfectly for their topic. In discussing the research aspect, they said, “I had previously considered another idea for my thesis and had discussed it with a potential advisor, but eventually decided to change my focus to The Decameron. It was what I was most passionate about and excited to research. Since my thesis is ultimately a literary analysis, I spent a lot of time closely studying the text of The Decameron and fleshing out an outline of what I wanted to queer. I also read many books on queer Italian history and a great deal of queer theory to contextualize and support my observations. Throughout the whole process, I took notes and pulled specific quotes, then created an outline. After that, it was really just a matter of putting it all together in the writing process.”

Moira Armstrong posing in front of a wall
Like all Senior Honors Thesis/Projects, students must select an advisor to mentor them throughout the process. Luckily for Moira, they found not one but two faculty members to guide them with their research. When asked about them, Moira shared, “I have two co-advisors for my thesis: Dr. Kristin Stasiowski, a professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, and Dr. Christopher Roman, a professor in the English department. Dr. Stasiowski taught the class I took on The Decameron and Dr. Roman taught the queer literature class in which I wrote my original paper on queerness and The Decameron, so their combined expertise aligned perfectly with my topic. I also have strong relationships with both of them and felt confident that they’d be excellent advisors.”

As the day of the oral defense arrived, they shared their thesis process through the end, saying, “I’ve really loved this experience. It helped me realize how much I love doing research, and it helped me develop both skills for research and confidence. I also just love this text so much and have been so thrilled to have this opportunity to dig into it, and to read about queer history and theory. These topics are endlessly fascinating to me and it’s been fantastic to learn more about them.”

Finishing a Senior Honors Thesis/Project is no small feat. All students who have taken on the task of completing a thesis and successfully defend it should be proud of their efforts and determination. Ahmed Barghout, Alena Miskinis, and Moira Armstrong all shared their experiences and how impactful the Senior Honors Thesis/Project is for their academic career and resume. If you have any questions about the process or want to read others’ finished theses, visit https://www.kent.edu/honors/thesis or contact Marsha Kraus at mkraus1@kent.edu with questions.

 

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PHOTO CAPTION 1: Front Campus, Architecture Building in the Back

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Moira Armstrong smiling in front of a bookshelf 

PHOTO CAPTION 3: Moira Armstrong posing in front of a wall

 

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 10:38am
UPDATED: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 10:39am
WRITTEN BY:
Honors College Writing Intern: Mai-Ling Francis