Capstone Project

The Capstone Project is the culmination of the MLA student's multidisciplinary graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania. By integrating two or more academic disciplines into a Capstone Project, each student reflects the mission of the MLA program itself: to provide a place for students to create their own graduate curriculum across the arts and sciences. Although there are no set guidelines for Capstone Projects, there are two common approaches to writing Capstones. In the first approach, the Capstone is an extended research paper, based on primary and/or secondary sources. In the second approach, students write a more creative Project. For example, some students write a series of short stories or poems, or a memoir, supplementing their writings with a short analytical piece that surveys some important literature in their fields of interest and explains how their creative pieces compare with that literature.

Although the Capstone should reflect the student's concentration in courses, the content and scope of students' Capstone projects are limited only by their imagination. Among the projects that have been completed recently are:

  • Looking into Degas' Interior: A Case Study in Art Historical Methodologies
  • Crossed Borders and Blurred Boundaries:Subjectivity, Discourse and the Liminality of Travel in Edith Walker's 1888-1889 Diary
  • This is What Fifty Looks Like: Women"s Midlife Invisibility Examined Through Three Interviews and a Monologue
  • Eddie Lenihan: Storytelling in Twenty-first Century Ireland
  • Ethnographic Study of Supportive Housing for Persons with Severe Mental Illness
  • Toward an Appreciation of 'Biography as History': Selecting Biographical Texts for use in Teaching American History

The Capstone Forum

Each year, selected graduating students present their projects at a Capstone Forum. This event gives newcomers a chance to meet other students, faculty and administrators. It demonstrates what is possible within Penn's MLA program.

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