In the past few years a number of English majors (and some nonmajors) have made important contributions to literary scholarship through their participation in The Spenser Project. I'm a member of a small international team of scholars that is editing the Collected Works of Edmund Spenser, undoubtedly the most important English non-dramatic poet of the Elizabethan period and probably the only non-dramatic poet whom Shakespeare would have regarded as "the competition." (That he was also a feminist, a leading functionary in the vicious Elizabethan colonial program in Ireland, and a cautious critic of Elizabethan foreign policy only adds to the complexity of his hold on modern critical readers.) The Spenser edition has three parts: a multi-volume scholarly edition to be published by Oxford University Press, a single-volume student's edition, and an open-access digital archive to supplement the print editions. Students have worked on all aspects of the edition, writing commentary, preparing glossaries, helping to "set" texts, coding, working on interfaces.
Because the Spenser Project has a digital infrastructure, work on the edition is based in the Humanities Digital Workshop. Some students have received course credit for their work on the project; others have participated as research assistants (funded by the IPH); still others have participated in their capacity as undergraduate fellows in the HDW. Over the past few summers, interested students have had summer internships in the HDW, working on the Spenser Edition as well as on a range of other digital projects: recent HDW projects have been supervised by faculty in History, Music, German, Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literature, and American Studies, as well as English.
There have been some great spin-offs recently. One student who's worked on the Project is doing her senior thesis on a poem attributed to Spenser a quarter of a century after his death: she'd editing the poem, with scholarly commentary, and is also writing a long essay on "the uses of Pseudonymy in the Early Modern Period." Two other students on the project volunteered to assist her on the editorial work and they spent some very interesting days doing that work in rare book collections in London, Manchester, and Oxford.
Students interested in these opportunities should contact Professor Loewenstein.