MFA in CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE– 2014-15
INTEGRATED THESIS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
WHAT IS THE MFA INTEGRATED THESIS?
The MFA Integrated Thesis includes both the work you have created throughout your two years and the record of that work contained in a Thesis-Portfolio. Successful completion of both the work and the Thesis-Portfolio are requirements for graduation. Satisfactory completion is determined by review by designated MFA core faculty. A positive recommendation to the Program Coordinator is a requirement for the awarding of the degree. NOTE: All thesis materials must be fully completed and submitted by April 24, 2015.
Every Thesis and each Thesis-Portfolio must include two of the three component elements listed below. These component elements will be prioritized according to the particular interests and professional trajectory of each student. The relative weighting of these component elements and the balance of theory and practice in the program work and in the Thesis-Portfolio will be tailored to your personal attributes and professional goals as determined by you in discussion with your Thesis Advisor.
The three Component Elements are:
Writing, which may include:
- A theoretical or academically-oriented paper written with a goal of conference participation or publication.
- A performance text.
- A practitioner’s report such as a description of a new integration of training or performance techniques, a description of how a technique can be employed in the creation of original work, or of how it can be used in conjunction with other disciplines such as service learning, arts therapy or social justice work.
Teaching, including both actual classes within or outside Naropa with accompanying syllabi and/or syllabi based on teaching work you have synthesized in the program.
Performance work, which may include:
- Ensemble-generated work.
- Work as a performer, director, writer, choreographer, installation-artist, etc. in your own or others’ work, including performance work in a production directed by Naropa faculty, Guest Artists, or other 2nd-Year MFA students.
NOTE: Examples of Thesis-Portfolios from previous years will be available for you to read. For the moment these are located in the Program Coordinator office and will need to be checked out by appointment, until they are moved to the library.
WHAT SPECIFIC STEPS GO INTO THE MAKING OF A THESIS, AND ON WHAT SCHEDULE?
- The process of completing your Thesis begins with the writing of a Letter of Intent this semester.
- It includes the showing of the Works-in-Progress and resulting feedback/evaluation loop from faculty at the end of fall semester.
- It continues with the creation of a Thesis Proposal during the fall semester.
- It includes the various elements of the Thesis itself (writing, teaching, rehearsals, and performances) during the whole year.
- It concludes with the submission of the Thesis-Portfolio in the spring.
WHAT IS THE LETTER OF INTENT?
The Letter of Intent is your initial description of your Integrated Thesis. It is, by nature, early thinking, but it should include a description of the themes, concepts, processes, techniques, and inquiries, which are of deepest interest to you. In the Letter, you should identify which two of the three component elements you foresee working on, and you should include both conceptual and specific elements you intend to investigate throughout the year.
No later than September 30, 2014
Your Thesis Advisor will respond to your Letter of Intent by October 15 with any comments or follow up we feel is necessary.
WHAT IS THE THESIS PROPOSAL?
During the fall semester, you will write a Thesis Proposal. The Thesis Proposal is a plan which outlines all the work which will become part of your Thesis. It is understood that as you draft your Proposal you may still be determining some elements of the Thesis (for instance, you may not know what roles you will play in projects during the year, the details of an original performance work, or which classes you will teach). Therefore, in the Proposal you may be able to specify some elements more clearly than others. However, every Proposal should include ALL of the following:
I. Your name and contact information.
II. An opening paragraph summarizing all of the elements of your thesis and their order of priority.
A sample opening sentence might read:
“This thesis proposal includes two performances and one academic paper. Some things contained in this proposal are definite and some will be re-assessed between now and February 15, 2014.”
A list of all the definite component elements of the Thesis.
A list of the component elements which may become part of the Thesis.
III. For each component element in your Thesis, your Proposal should include:
- A narrative which describes your goals in relation to your own learning.
- A short description of each component element (academic paper, syllabus, performance, etc.)
- The planned means of assessment for each element (See “What is Assessment?” below).
- A description of each work process.
- If the proposal includes a performance element, then the proposal should include a description of the performance as you envision it at this time. (It is not expected that the actual performance will resemble this description, but that the final Thesis will describe the journey of how the work developed from this early description to the final performance.)
- A projected time-line, for the development and the completion of each component element of your Thesis.
Since your Thesis Proposal will form the basis upon which your Thesis will be evaluated, it is important that it lays down a well-thought-through road-map for you to follow during the year. The schedule for the writing of the Thesis Proposal appears below. There will be a meeting during the first week of the fall semester to go over any questions you may have about the Thesis Proposal.
WHAT DOES THE THESIS-PORTFOLIO ITSELF CONTAIN?
The Thesis Portfolio is the complete record of all your Thesis work. Your Thesis-Portfolio should feel complete to you. It should be both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying, pleasing to your senses, easy to access, and with an underlying sense of delight and accomplishment.
Although this is an individualized program, and although each Thesis-Portfolio will be quite different from every other one, there are several elements which every Thesis-Portfolio should contain:
- A Table of Contents
- A one-page Artist’s Statement describing your Vision, your goals and objectives, and the techniques and processes you used to create each element of your Thesis work.
- The accepted Thesis Proposal (and any addenda to that proposal).
- If your Thesis includes a pedagogical element, the Portfolio should include:
- A course description paragraph.
- Syllabi for each course.
- Teaching journals or other documentation of your teaching work
- If your Thesis includes an academic paper, the Portfolio should contain the paper itself. The requirements for that paper should conform to the guidelines of the conference at which you hope to present the paper. Please either check with your Thesis Advisor or let your Thesis Advisor know what guidelines you are using. If you are writing a paper to present after the end of the school year please summarize and give dates and place of future presentation.
NOTE: Teaching and Writing components may also include performative presentations, such as classes or the public reading of an academic paper.
- If your Thesis includes a performance element, the Thesis Portfolio should include:
- A narrative detailing the development and/or rehearsal process, including rehearsal journals and notes; and your own perspectives and conclusions on the rehearsal and performance process. (2 to 5 pages).
- Media materials including: DVD, music, photos, publicity, performance programs and other supporting materials.
7. A description and summary of your participation in the Thesis work of others.
8. Personal Reflections on your creative process, including:
- How this work is related to the MFA training.
- Obstacles encountered.
- Insights experienced.
- Feedback received.
- Learning acquired.
9. Assessments of the writing, teaching or production work you have
accomplished (2-5 pages) including:
- A self evaluation of your work.
- A report on feedback received from peers and faculty.
10. Conclusions summarizing what you accomplished and what you learned during the creation of your Thesis: insights, aspirations and unforgettable moments.
11. Any future plans you have for the material of your Thesis including venues for the presentation of writing, workshops or faculty employment plans, and plans for other productions of this particular piece or future work you see developing from this project.
12. Supplemental Materials: All other materials which you might wish to access in the future.
NOTE: The entire Thesis Portfolio is to be submitted in hard-copy and on a CD for the archive.
CURRICULAR SUPPORT FOR THESIS WORK AY 14-15
Classes attended as curricular support for thesis will be specifically designated in the syllabus for each semester. An incomplete listing for AY 14-15 includes:
Thesis Support Workshop—Module III wks 9-15 faculty tba
Thesis Support Workshop—(Module IV wks tba)
Somatic Work Group---Erika Berland (Module IV)
Pedagogy Components of Roy Hart, Viewpoints, Physical Acting (Module IV)
Viewpoints and Psychophysical Acting—Wendell Beavers & Joan Bruemmer-Holden (Module IV)
Thesis Advisement—Individual advisement with core faculty (Module III, IV)
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THE CREATION OF THE THESIS PROPOSAL, AND THE THESIS-PORTFOLIO?
- Your Letter of Intent is to be emailed no later than September 30.
- By October 15 you will receive an email response from a Thesis Advisor either accepting your letter of intent or asking for revisions.
- Revisions may be made after initial meetings at the beginning of the semester.
- On November 15 a First Draft of your Thesis Proposal is due.
- On December 13 the Final Draft of the Thesis Proposal is due.
- On March 21, a First Draft of the Thesis-Portfolio is due. This may include some completed portions and should include outlines for any incomplete portions.
- On April 15, 2015 a Draft of all the writing, pedagogy and performance elements of your Thesis is due for faculty review.
- On April 24, 2015, all Thesis-Portfolio materials are due for final review by the faculty.
WHO IS YOUR THESIS ADVISOR, AND WHAT DOES YOUR THESIS ADVISOR DO?
Your Thesis Advisor will be assigned after we have received all letters of intent. Your Advisor will oversee the creation of your Thesis Proposal and your Thesis Portfolio, make sure each required part is completed on time and act as a resource in helping you figure out what other support you may need. It is expected that everyone will need support from a variety of sources. The Thesis Advisor’s function is to help co-ordinate these resources. But your Thesis Advisor is not the only faculty advisor for your Thesis work. You have access to the entire faculty in areas where they may hold particular expertise regarding the development of your work. You may ask other faculty members to read drafts of your writing, to attend rehearsals, to visit classes you teach, to join in feedback sessions, if they are available. But it is your responsibility to schedule meetings with these faculty members with enough advance notice so that they can work with you. (This is often a back-and-forth process requiring many emails, so please plan ahead.) Faculty assessment of each element of your work is an important part of the final Thesis, but it is your responsibility to ask for feedback and assessment.
With the help of your Thesis Advisor, you must create a schedule for each element of your Thesis. You should keep your Thesis Advisor apprised of your rehearsal schedule and invite your Thesis Advisor (and other faculty) to witness your work-in-progress. You should submit written materials in a timely manner so that your Thesis Advisor can suggest revisions.
At each stage in the creation of your proposal, you and your Thesis Advisor will:
1) Discuss the appropriateness of the focus, or foci you have chosen, based on your own and the program’s resources, and on your stated goals.
2) Determine if your proposal has a proper scope—i.e., can your proposal be achieved within the timeline you have laid out. The acceptance of this time-line is necessary at each point so that the department can work out the second semester schedule in a way which maximizes our resources. NOTE: Each student is responsible for communicating any changes of schedule (performance dates, assessment sessions, paper submissions, etc.) to his/her Thesis Advisor and receiving the Thesis Advisor’s approval for such changes.
WHAT ABOUT OUTSIDE RESOURCES?
You and your Thesis Advisor may decide that it would be important for your Thesis for you to seek support for your Thesis beyond Naropa University. Your Thesis Advisor can help you locate artists, teachers and learning aids outside the campus.
WHAT IS “ASSESSMENT?”
Assessment is an essential part of your Thesis. It includes:
- Written self-assessments and process journals.
- Oral feedback sessions and written records of oral assessments from teachers and other students.
- Audience feedback and written records of audience feedback.
- Written evaluations by others (members of your projects, teachers).
A FINAL NOTE
The faculty intends to support your process in the development and creation of your Thesis work and in the writing of your Thesis-Portfolio. Any questions you may have about this process will be addressed at the Thesis meeting during the first week of classes.