Honors Options

Honors Credit for Comparative Literature Courses

Almost any CMPL course can give you Honors credit, if you speak to the instructor ahead of time and complete an honors contract.


General Description

Majors who have an overall grade point average of 3.3 or higher at the end of their junior year will be invited by the Director of Undergraduate Studies to do honors work in Comparative Literature. In order to receive departmental honors, students in their senior year sign up for a two-semester sequence of independent study courses (CMPL691H, 692H) under the direction of an advisor. The first semester involves regular tutorial sessions relating to the topic with the faculty advisor. In the spring, students defend the completed thesis at an oral examination on the basis of which honors or highest honors will be awarded. Both CMPL691H and 692H may count among the five upper-level courses required for the major.



  • 3.3 minimum overall GPA
  • Major in CMPL
  • Presence on campus during Senior Year
  • CMPL 691H and CMPL 692H to be taken during Senior Year
  • 40-to-60-page thesis, to be completed by March of the Spring Semester, Senior Year. In the case of a December graduation, it would be October of the Fall semester.)
  • Oral defense: one-hour meeting with readers by the end of the first week of April to discuss the completed thesis (or November in the case of a December graduation)


Grading and Evaluation

  • Student will receive a temporary grade of an S or a U upon completion of CMPL 691H (the advisor will report on progress to the Undergraduate Advisor, who will submit a grade).
  • Upon completion of CMPL 692H, final letter grades will be submitted for both courses.
  • After the oral defense of the thesis, students will be eligible for honors or highest honors in Comparative Literature.


Examples of Past Thesis Topics

  • Protestations of Singularity: The Collage Aethetic in the Autobiography of Roland Barthes and Julio Cortazar's La Vuelta al Dia in Ochanta Mundos
  • The Applied Reader: An Application of Reader Response to Dramatic Texts
  • Heaven and Earth: An Exploration of Alyosha Karamazov and Cash Bundren
  • Concentric Circles: How Spatial Relationships Provide Structure for Meaning in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Cien Anos de Soledad
  • Public Words and Private Actions: Voice, Gender, and Power in Faulkner and Simon
  • Unamuno's Niebla: An Examination of the Interplay between Aestheticism and Existentialism in the Self-Conscious Novel
  • Re-Engendering the Canon: The Influence of Gender in the Poetry of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore and Ada Negri
  • Brotherhood of Picaros: Lazarillo de Tormes and Invisible Man
  • Iphigenia, the Drama of Euripides and Racine: Tragic Mood or Tragic Moment?
  • Character Development and Interaction in Turgenev's Virgin Soil and Henry James' The Princess Casamassima

You can review the UNC honors thesis archives and obtain additional information about composition guidelines at UNC's Senior Honors Thesis page on the Honors Program Website.

Click here for a full list of past thesis titles since 1961.


Guidelines and Forms

Download print versions of Honors Thesis resources:

Deadline is April 1 for May graduation.


Read about a Senior Honors Experience:

Recently, as a senior majoring in Comparative Literature, I received a grant from the Honors Research Office toward my Senior Honors Thesis. I am lucky to be writing a Comparative Literature Thesis on two works that I’ve loved since I watched their musical adaptations in middle school: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos andGigi by Colette. Now I hum questions along with the catchy lyrics, asking what is the nature of “glamour” in the texts and how is it tied to the female as a spectacle or the female as an agent. Believe it or not, this is great fun, especially when such questions lead me to Harvard’s library in Cambridge to track down a rare libretto that had notes from the original cast of Blondes.

The grant I received funded this literary adventure as well as alleviated the costs of supplies needed for research—books, printing money, and DVD’s that individually cost little but together equal groceries for a poor student like me. I am deeply thankful for the aid.

I became a Comparative Literature major for two reasons: I love literature and I love languages. It has always seemed to me to be a logical choice and a pure delight to pursue where they intersect. Later, those two reason were supported by many others that I could never have anticipated: the small and personal department, the committed and caring faculty, the exciting flexibility that allows for student creativity, my fascinating peers. Under the Comparative Literature Department, I was able to study not only the major English poets that I love, but also Cicero, Turgenev, Proust, Ruskin, Voltaire, Defoe, Mayakovsky, Welty, and more. I have been able to witness and contribute to the conversation about literature as it reverberates around the globe.

Naturally, perhaps, for one who hopes to be a part of these conversations forever, after graduation, I want to teach. For four years I have worked with adult students who are pursuing their GED’s. It is the greatest joy to watch them begin to take confidence in their reading skills, to delight in the power of narrative. My goal is to eventually teach Literature and Basic English at a community college, working with students as they navigate the intersection of literature and literacy.

by Sarah Morris