Junior Independent Work in NES

NES majors write one Junior Paper (JP) in the spring semester of their junior year.  An NES JP is normally an essay of 20 to 30 double-spaced pages focusing on a topic related to the Near East. The JP most often addresses aspects of the history, societies, religions, politics and/or cultures of the Near East, but students have tackled subjects in fields as diverse as medical anthropology and the economics of the energy industry. The department does not require students to use sources in a Near Eastern language, but does strongly encourage students who are sufficiently proficient to do so.

The Junior Paper should offer critical analysis of a specific subject or problem, not merely a passive review of the existing literature or a summary of facts. Advice on completing a work of independent research in NES may be found on the senior thesis page and is worth consulting early and often while writing the JP as well.

Adviser assignments

NES majors begin their Junior Paper research in the fall of their junior year. Students submit a paper topic description to the department’s Undergraduate Administrator, early in the fall semester and are assigned a faculty adviser by the department. Students who wish to work with a particular professor may reach out to him or her to discuss this, and should also email their request to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. We cannot guarantee that we’ll accommodate such requests but we do take them seriously and do our best to honor them.  Students are responsible for contacting and arranging to meet regularly throughout the year with their advisers. In turn, advisers may be counted upon to help students define a topic (usually the largest obstacle to be overcome), develop a project of appropriate length and difficulty, develop a bibliography, find sources of data, select appropriate methods, and present a lucid analysis.

Interim assignment, fall semester

Students must submit an outline and annotated bibliography to their adviser by Dean’s Date of fall semester. This assignment is graded and counts for 30% of the student’s final JP grade.

The outline should begin with a statement of the “research problem” (the basic question that scholars have not yet sufficiently or properly understood) that the JP addresses. It should then present a provisional argument (a thesis statement) that will guide the JP. Next, the outline should offer a road map of how you expect to make the case for your argument. The outline should reference the sources you intend to use for each stage of the argument.

The annotated bibliography should list the sources you have already consulted in your JP research. Each source should be followed by a short paragraph (3-5 sentences) about the relevance of the source for your JP. The bibliography should include both primary sources (archival documents, texts, films, interviews, etc.) and secondary sources (journal articles, books, etc.). Depending on your particular project and methodology, your adviser may have other guidelines or suggestions for this assignment, so be sure to discuss your plans and progress along the way.

Final drafts

Students should submit a draft of the full paper to their adviser near the end of the spring semester. The final paper is due April 30, 2024. 

2023–2024 JP deadlines

September 18  (Monday)
Junior Paper Topic Description Due by 4:30 pm via email to the Undergraduate Administrator.

September 28  (Thursday)
Assignment of Junior Paper Adviser

Weeks of October 2 & October 9
Meet with Adviser

October 30  (Monday)
Submit one-page topic description and research questions to Adviser

December 15 (Dean's Date) (Friday)
Outline (2-3 pages) and annotated bibliography (7-8 pages) due to Adviser (see above for details).

March 18 (Monday)
NES Summer Thesis Research Funding Application Due (for Rising Seniors)

April 12  (Friday)
Junior Paper Draft Due

April 30  (Tuesday) 
Junior Paper Due by 4:30 to the Undergraduate Administrator