"Before writing my honors thesis, I imagined myself solely as a creative nonfiction writer with a hint of poetry. But after writing my thesis, I realized how passionate I am about poetry! It's humbling to think that without that thesis I may not have found the path of writing that is so dear to me now."
—Maggie Swofford, '16
Students studying English at Gordon are known for their intelligence, creativity, and hard work. We recognize our highest achieving students in two distinct ways: departmental honors and membership in Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society.
English majors who maintain at least a 3.5 GPA within the major (with no grade lower than a B) and a 3.0 GPA overall may apply during their senior year to write an honors thesis. Honors students work closely with a faculty advisor of their choice to develop an original research project in either literary studies or creative writing. Students frequently report that this close mentoring relationship is one of the highlights of their time in the English program. Applications are typically accepted during the fall semester, and students work throughout the late fall and spring semesters to complete their projects. The honors thesis culminates with a presentation before English faculty members and fellow students. Students who successfully complete the thesis graduate with honors in English. For more information on departmental honors, please contact the department chair or your academic advisor.
The titles of recent honors thesis projects include "God and Greed: Understandings of the New World in Seventeenth-Century English and Spanish Verse," "Morality, My Dear Holmes: The Legal Impact of Sherlock Holmes's Shift from Amoral to Immoral in Sherlock," and "The Agency of Suffering: Julian of Norwich and Augustine of Hippo's Conversation on the Origin of Sin."
Alpha Upsilon Omega, the Gordon College chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, was founded in 2014. Sigma Tau Delta, established in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University, boasts nearly 900 local chapters and thousands of members across the United States and around the world. Members of Alpha Upsilon Omega are eligible to apply for a variety of scholarships and internships, submit original work for publication in the society's two flagship journals (The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle and The Sigma Tau Delta Review), and present papers at the annual Sigma Tau Delta convention. The Society also affords students numerous opportunities for networking and professional development.
Since 2014, members of Alpha Upsilon Omega have served on the editorial staff of the organization's regional journal (Mind Murals), presented award-winning conference papers, published scholarly essays in the Review, and written highly acclaimed stories for the Rectangle. The chapter also sponsors regular on-campus events designed to foster departmental fellowship and a shared love of literature and writing.
Membership in Alpha Upsilon Omega is open to all English majors and minors and is by invitation only. To be eligible, students must maintain a 3.50 GPA within the English program and a 3.0 GPA overall. In addition, they must have completed three semesters of college coursework and at least two English classes beyond the 100-level. Invitation letters are usually sent out in early February, and new members are officially welcomed into the chapter at the annual induction ceremony in April. A highlight of this annual ceremony is the Alpha Upsilon Omega Faculty Address, a talk delivered by a faculty member chosen each year by the officers' cabinet.