How do I Write a Literary Thesis?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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In order to write a literary thesis, one must first come up with an argument based on preliminary research, complete more research to sufficiently back up the argument, and then write a paper that supports the argument. There are a number of factors that govern how to correctly format a literary thesis. In most cases, a student will be asked to use the style guide that has been set forth by the Modern Language Association (MLA). This guide will instruct the student how to properly cite sources that are referenced or quoted within the thesis as well as how to lay out the paper itself. The academic institution for which the paper is being written may have other guidelines for the form of a literary thesis, including a target length and rules about how the paper must be bound and submitted.


There are a number of resources that should be used when developing a literary thesis. Past and current coursework, the campus writing lab, and the faculty in the English department are all important resources for a person who is preparing to write a literary thesis. The body of a literary thesis will be based on the writer's knowledge that comes from years of reading books for school and for personal edification. It will also be based on concepts about literature, including the ideas of specific literary theorists as they apply to the main argument of the thesis. When forming the main argument of a literary thesis, it is important to receive guidance from English department faculty members.

In many cases, a person who is writing a literary thesis as part of a master's program or a doctoral program will have a thesis adviser who will guide her through the process of establishing her main argument. A thesis adviser will also offer guidance as the student conducts research for her thesis and when she writes the thesis. There are a number of systems that a student can use to organize the writing of a literary thesis. It is best for a student to choose a system with which she is comfortable and has used in the past. In addition to using past knowledge to inform the content of the paper, a student will also draw heavily on past experiences writing literary papers while crafting a logical flow of ideas and polishing her writing.


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