Part 2 of your thesis in now officially underway!

I am glad we are back to business, and that the second part of your thesis process is now officially underway. I spoke with you all about the plain fact that there is less time in front of you now. Remember how critical it is to prioritize your MA thesis work in order to make it to the proverbial finish line. You official due date for the work is May 4th, so please have that bolded in your calendars. Here is our Course Calendar (with your presentation dates) for your reference. ***Please remember to keep up your weekly blogging as progress reports on your work each week.

For your future professional development & planning:

Kean University Research Days are slated for April 24-26th! – Please consider sharing some of your thesis work with the broader Kean University community. Since the Research Days schedule coincides with the deadline for your submission (your deadline is shortly after Research Days), some students feel that the Research Days forum really pushes them to refine and complete their thesis effectively on time. One goal helps motivate, for the success of the other. By participating you will gain some professional experience, and it will also showcase the unique work we do in our MA in Writing Studies program!

For writerly inspiration:

James McBride is an American writer and musician, and he is the recipient of the 2013 National Book Award for fiction for his novel The Good Lord Bird. He will be coming to Kean on Thursday February 4th for the Kean University Distinguished Lecture Series. Tickets to this event are free for all of you. You can register to attend here.

Our class slides:

Next week we will have a group check in, and then one-on-one conferencing about your current progress. I look forward to speaking with each of you about your work!


Dr. Zamora

Welcome back!

Here we are at the second half of your thesis journey.  Last semester was filled with doubts, discovery, research exploration, some false starts, reading and vetting, and writing.  This semester you will gain the momentum necessary to complete a meaningful thesis project by May 4th.  That is the formal date set for your final thesis submission.

A reminder to all of you: Please remember that writing a thesis is inherently not “easy”. As I have already mentioned in other contexts – there are many twists and turns in the road, roadblocks do come up, and there are unforeseen landscapes that cannot be imagined until you cover ground and truly travel. That said, the more time you have on the road, the more of a chance you will have to discover.

I look forward to continuing this work with all of you.  As you know, thesis class is really an accountability mechanism, keeping you going in the midst of a large writing process, and providing that sense of a writerly community that is key to assuaging the writer’s isolation in reflection. And as always, I am here to provide suggestions, feedback, resources, and insight; to prompt you to refine your thinking and take your work to another level. As you have experienced already, sometimes you surge forth in the process and cover good distance “on the road” due to insightful feedback. And sometimes you surge forth due to the “deeper” drill down of your own engaged/independent reading & research. And oftentimes, inspiration hits at the most unlikely times ;).

We will use our weekly gathering on Monday evenings to “conference” and revise.  We will start off in person on Monday Jan 23 in person (CAS 314) to reconnect and plan. Thereafter, we will resume our weekly conferencing in our Zoom room. I look forward to seeing you all on Jan. 23rd! 


Dr. Zamora

The final phase of Thesis (Part 1)

Winter is coming. It is that crazy time of year when everything speeds up. Count on very busy few weeks ahead, to close out our Fall 2022 semester.

About where we have been, and what is next…

I want to thank Edna & Brandon for a thoughtful evening. Both of their thesis projects incorporate memoir in provocative and powerful ways. I am so pleased to see their individual use of research, blended effectively with personal narrative to claim a unique self-empowered voice. I sincerely enjoyed our conversations last night. There is so much potential emerging in all of your work.

I am glad we have now completed our first round of “thesis-in-progress” presentations. When we take up a second round of your in-progress thesis after the new year, you will come to realize how much your work evolves over time. I look forward to this second glimpse during Spring semester.

I want each of you in these last couple of weeks of the semester to focus on apprehending your accomplishments in the first half of thesis class. You should be able to stand back a bit and see the forest from the trees at this stage, understanding what is coming into broader view.

Please make sure you are mapping out an agenda for the work you can do independently over the Winter break. The stretch of time from the close of this year, until we get going again in late January, is critical. Be dedicated to this project and make sure you are working hard on a regular basis – writing, researching, refining. You must plan for a surge of production in the early days of the new year as well.

I look forward to reading your formal proposals and lit review materials over the holiday. Next up – I will discuss these submissions to be completed by the close of this semester. See you next on Dec. 14th for our final class.

Dr. Zamora

Keep Going!

My simple message of the week: Keep going!

Use the next few weeks remaining in this semester to surge ahead (with self-discipline and determination) and set small (modest) goals to keep momentum along the way. Keep working on your individual goals. Some of you have really hit a stride and just need to keep up with the exploration and writing you have been doing, and some of you will recalibrate and switch the process up a bit, shifting from research to writing (or the other way around), in order to approach other aspects of the overall vision.

You should be building on some momentum now. Lean into this, and let the words and work flow. This is the time to be writing without constraint…generating significant content. 

At this stage, it also makes sense to consider your Lit Review as it stands. Identify any important gaps…and be prepared to address any gaps you think you might have. How does your research inform your process of producing new knowledge?

Also, I want you all to think about setting up end-of-semester benchmarks or goals.

Thanks to Kefah for her meaningful reading of her poems, which form the foundation of her thesis. And thank you for introducing the rest of the team to grounded theory methodology. I think this approach can be a compelling way to frame this project, opening up a new theoretical lens on the experience of being Palestine-American writer. Your method centers memoir and the poetic voice, while offering a more nuanced vision of both historical oppression and collective trauma. In tracking/mapping/coding patterns of language/tropes/themes you will start to see a specific argument, and I suspect that argument will have to do with nature of power in the act/impulse of representation itself. I am so excited about this work coming together!

I will see you all next week, and I look forward to hearing from both Chelsea and Edna. Keep going, blog your progress, and I will keep up with you reports here!

Wrapping up October…moving into November!

Thank you Katie for kicking off our presentation series last week with such a thoughtful presentation of themes, and the current theory and research that informs your story building. What a wonderful first glimpse of the story world itself! I am certain that this work will cover new ground that broadens our overall understanding of sexuality and sexual identity, in ways that make space for new representative understanding, with inclusion as a primary value leading the way.

To change the subject

I don’t mean to spook you. Just a quick reminder that time is moving along at rapid pace at this stage. Time to put the pedal to the metal on this thesis research and writing engagement. I want you all to keep your focus on steady and timely MA thesis progress. Do not let up on the time and energy spent towards this large project. The big projects that matter are always accomplished incrementally – with your steady and regular concentration, input and attention. Remember that the research element of your overall MA thesis project must begin to be clearly integrated into your vision at this stage, and your work should reflect a clear understanding of “a knowledge context” outside of your own writing (on its own).

Our class slides from last week:

This week we will hear from Kefah about her progress, and then after, we will hear from Chelsea. Everyone: KEEP GOING!

Independent Work Week for Research!

We discussed how to proceed in developing your Literature Review last week, so above are the slides that help you discern how to proceed when collecting your critical understanding of the relevant literature influencing your thesis project. Remember the funnel approach and also remember this is an ongoing iterative process throughout your thesis time. Here a brief snapshot of the next couple of weeks:

Oct 12 Independent Work (no meeting) *Library workshops recommended

Oct 19 Our first Thesis presentation from Kathryn; Lit Review check in & conferencing

You to-do list:

-Blog on your thesis progress.  Report out where you are on your Lit Review process.  -What materials have you gathered? What materials have you read? What kind of note taking process are you engaging in?

Picking up momentum

Here we are in almost-October. I hope you are enjoying the cooler nights and shifting light, and the general ease into a new season. Just like the weather shifts from warm to cool/crisp, now we find ourselves in a “new season” academically speaking – we are shifting our rhythms and habits to make room for this large writing project. We are entering a reflective season which is well-suited for writing.

As we start to notice new growth while discovering the scope of your thesis, we continue to refine your weekly strategies and approaches. I am glad we have reviewed the Thesis Presentation “protocol” in anticipation of this feedback opportunity for each of you. Next week, we will look closer at Lit Review strategies, and you will also have time to share a first glimpse of your early writing.

As always, I will look to your blogs for an understanding of your individual progress, and I hope to touch base with each of you during Part 2 of our class time.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Zamora

On Our Way

On the road again…..

I am pleased we continued our early thesis time together with a Spiral Journal protocol to help sharpen your perception about your early-stage development of your MA thesis work. I am so glad we took the time to focus a bit on the importance of the Library and the Kean University Learning Commons in terms of resources for developing your thesis. Spending a bit of time in workshops geared towards MA students, and learning about the vast resources at your fingertips, is most certainly an important step for your continual thesis work. I hope you will try a few workshops that might be supportive, and also get to know a librarian or two at Kean, while you work on your thesis overall.

Here are the agenda slides from last class:

After settling the presentation calendar together, we also discussed the concept of an Early Proposal. Hopefully this narrows the focus at the start of your formal journey with this big project. I know each of you has a specific plan now for the next two weeks as your “kick-off” your MA thesis progress.

I will see you next on Wednesday Sept. 28th.

Shaping our Plans

Welcome again to the beginning of your thesis experience. I am glad we have settled this special ENG 5698 I01 section for your developing thesis work.

It was genuinely uplifting for me to see you the other night in order to jump start your thesis work formally. Once again, welcome back to campus! Our conversation, spurned by the image gallery, was very meaningful to me. You are all at different places, with different perspectives, but it is clear to me that this thesis process will be an integral part of your growth this year. I want to state how truly how happy I am to have this chance to work with all of you in this capacity. This thesis journey we are on is the “heart and soul” of good work that matters to me.

Here are the slides from last class for your reference:

Each of you is starting the process of discovery and invention for this thesis project. And some of you have some notion of what you would like to do, you might have some elements “in the can.” But you are all still apprehending the significance and shape of your project.

Remember, each of you can learn a great deal from considering each other’s evolving work. This Independent Study will rely heavily on the peer learning potential within this small group. I look forward to “jump-starting” our collective work together.

For our Next Meeting

  1. Please send me the URL (web address) for your WordPress blog by filling the URL form out by Wednesday, Sept 14th.
  2. Please post you first blog.  In your first blog, please introduce yourself a little bit, let us know how you have been, and then reflect on your thesis plans/progress/ideas.  For some that might mean giving up a brief summary of what you have done thus far, for others it might mean a glimpse of early ideas before your journey begins.  And remember, you can always change your angle on the work, so this is just a thoughtful report on “current status”.
  3. Please consider registering for some library sessions to support research and citation practices in the earlier half of this semester.
  4. See you in our Zoom room next Wednesday at 4:30pm!

Dr. Zamora

Welcome to your Thesis

On the road: The thesis road is yours to map-out and yours to discover.

Writing a thesis is not easy. There are many twists and turns in the road, roadblocks do come up, and there are unforeseen landscapes that cannot be imagined until you cover ground and truly travel. That said, the more time you have on the road, the more of a chance you will have to discover. I have no doubt that each of you will eventually “arrive” at the place of your own design. A place of insight and learning. A place where perhaps the outcomes were not the ones you originally anticipated.

I look forward to working with each of you as you set a course and cover some significant ground on your own terms as you develop your culminating project for your Masters of Arts in Writing Studies degree. I am here to provide suggestions, feedback, resources, and insight; to prompt you to refine your thinking and take your work to another level. Sometimes you surge forth in the process and cover good distance “on the road” due to insightful feedback during a conversation. And sometimes you surge forth due to extended sessions of engaged independent reading & research. Oftentimes, inspiration hits at the most unlikely times ;). I hope you will experience all of this.

The MA in Writing Studies @KeanUniversity is inherently a “customizable” degree, and I encourage each of you to follow a course for which you feel a spark of commitment and passion. I also encourage you to take risks in pursuing forms of learning that matter to you personally. In my own experience, this is the place from which meaningful transformation is born. And if you are going to work hard at something, why not make it both meaningful and transformative on your own terms?

In Fall 2022, we will embark on this journey as an Independent Study. That said, your peer learning process and out sense of community will continue to be significant, and I hope you will lean on each other for both accountability and self-reflection. That said, we will also use our time as a group to enhance and augment the asynchronous/autonomous work that you will shape. Our website here will serve to organize some shared resources for supporting your writing process while connecting our learning. It is also a showcase of your work this year (in progress).


Dr. Zamora

ENG 5698 I01 Fall 2022