The Master of Liberal Arts capstone project
The capstone project is the culmination of your Master of Liberal Arts experience. By integrating two or more academic disciplines, your capstone reflects the mission of the MLA program itself: to provide a place for you to create your own graduate curriculum across the arts and sciences.
The content and scope of your capstone project can be tailored to your professional and intellectual goals. The project showcases the skills and knowledge you've acquired at Penn, and acts as an opportunity for you to push yourself to new heights.
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, you design a more creative project, and then contextualize it with academic support or commentary. 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.
Titles of several recent capstone projects include:
- Looking into Degas' Interior: A Case Study in Art Historical Methodologies
- Crossed Borders and Blurred Boundaries: Subjectivity, Discourse and the Liminality of Travel in Eadith 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 is open to the community, and gives new and prospective students a chance to meet other students, faculty and administrators.
Capstone Forum videos
The 2014 MLA Capstone Forum showcased the capstone projects of five MLA graduates. The Capstone Forum video is split into six chapters:
- Part 1: Introduction - Dr. Chris Pastore
- Part 2: For As Long As They Both Shall Give - Nicole Fortuna
- Part 3: The Fall of Nor and Other Stories - Thomas Hutt
- Part 4: Telling My Father's Story: Writing Through the Silences - Caroline Lee
- Part 5: Social Media and Museum Collections - Yin Liu
- Part 6: Decoding Anxiety Expressed Through Non-Verbal Communication - John Richard O'Donnell
Alternatively, you can watch the MLA Capstone Forum videos using the embedded player below: