In the semester just before graduation, each senior in the English B.A. program is
required to assemble and submit a portfolio of five papers written in upper-level
Creating a portfolio of your best work allows you to reflect on your progress and
learning. It also ensures that you have a collection of potential writing samples,
which you may need to submit for full-time or freelance employment, graduate school
application, writing workshop entry, and other professional situations.
Your portfolio should include unmarked printed copies of your papers rather than the
originals or copies with instructor marks and comments. The English B.A. program will
keep your submitted portfolio folder, so be sure that you don’t include your only
copy of a paper.
In order to have a wide selection of papers to choose from for your senior portfolio,
as you proceed through the English B.A. program courses, be sure to keep and back
up the electronic file of each paper you write – and also keep a clean printed copy
of each one as an extra backup!
How to Choose Papers
Your portfolio should include five papers written for 300- or 400-level literature
or English courses. These should be out-of-class essays, not in-class writing or take-home
exam answers. You must include at least one paper from LITR 416.
Choose papers that analyze or interpret literary works, examine cultural or historical
influences on language or literature, and apply a particular critical/theoretical
approach to a written work. Make sure at least one paper incorporates secondary source
Along with submitting your portfolio of five papers, you’ll choose one of those papers
to present at an informal gathering attended by other senior students, their guests,
and members of the English B.A. faculty. You may invite one or two professors or fellow
students as your guests.
This 15-20 minute presentation allows you to share your insights about literature
and language with your professors and colleagues. It also helps soon-to-be graduates
practice their presentation and communication skills as preparation for situations
such as job interviews, graduate school interviews, and professional conferences.
Choose your favorite or most successful paper to present. Rather than read it word-for-word,
provide an overview of your paper project and the literary work(s) it addresses. Your
presentation should also outline your critical approach (for example, feminist, psychoanalytic,
etc), key research sources, and major conclusions. After all the senior students have
presented their papers, audience members may offer comments or ask questions to learn
more about the presenters’ topics.