Students following the Literature track in French (whether with a senior thesis or a senior essay) will take French 398 in preparation for the spring semester. They then have an important choice to make regarding the format of their senior experience:
- a) writing a senior essay in the spring semester of senior year in the context of a 300 level course in the French Department or
- b) writing a senior thesis during the spring semester of senior year based on preliminary work done in the fall in the context of senior conference (FRENCH 398).
French 398 will focus on a specific topic in French. It will usually focus on three texts, one of which will be theoretical and two of which being primary texts. Particular attention will be paid to research techniques, the assembling of a bibliography, and the types of resources and critical perspectives that constitute and legitimate an advanced research project.
Students are required to announce whether or not they are going to write an essay in the context of a 300 level course (15-20 pages) or write a thesis (a 30-45 page independent work).
Each choice represents different challenges and has a different calendar that students will be expected to follow closely.
a) The Senior Essay in the Literature Track:
Those wishing to write a senior essay will have a number of important deadlines to follow during their senior year.
- Spring semester of senior year, students will take a 300-level course in French. In the first two weeks of classes s/he will consult with the professor to confirm that s/he is using the course to write the senior essay. Meetings will also be an opportunity to confirm the writing schedule for the semester (spelled out below) and to discuss potential second readers/examiners. This second reader can be an important resource throughout the semester but s/he will be most important when correcting and evaluating the final draft and participating in the oral defense.
Those writing a senior essay will be required to do the following on the specified days:
- Do ALL the readings in the course plus additional readings (identified during research and specifically attached to the individual project). Students choosing this option will NOT be doing the regular written assignments for the course. Rather, the final 15-20 page paper will constitute the writing portion of the grade for the course as well as serving as the senior project.
- Turn in an annotated bibliography listing readings and references. Some but not all of these works will come from the assigned reading (date due).
- Turn in the statement and outline for the senior essay (date due).
- Turn in the rough draft of the essay (date due).
- Turn in the final draft (date due). Students will make two copies and turn one in to the first reader (the professor teaching the course) and one copy to the second reader. Please note: the student is responsible for confirming that both professors have received this final draft.
- Oral defense will be scheduled for the first four days of the week after the end of classes (oral defense dates). Attending will be the student, the course instructor (first reader) and the second reader. This exam will last thirty minutes. At this time, the student will be expected to speak with authority about the research and writing process and some of the intellectual ramifications of the work that s/he has accomplished. Any questions about this exam (time, format, expectations, etc) can and should be discussed with the first reader.
Please note that the grade for those writing a senior essay will be calculated according to the following formula: French 398 (40%) + spring 300 level course + oral defense (60%). Student will get a continuing enrollment for 398 and then a senior grade that combines first and second semesters plus the oral exam in the proportions described above.
b) The Thesis in the Literature track:
Those wishing to write a senior thesis will have a number of important deadlines to follow during their senior year.
Please note: those wishing to have a thesis count for two majors (e.g. French and Cities) must, during the first month of the fall semester of senior year, arrange a meeting where the student and both first readers (one from each department) will be present. At this time, the exact nature of the thesis will be discussed and both professors and the student will come to an agreement about the format of the final project. At the conclusion of the meeting, the student will write up a summary of this agreement and send a copy of this to both readers. This process will assure that all parties understand the expectations of each department. Without this initial meeting and the approval of both departments, the French Department will not approve the writing of a “double-counted” thesis.
- The first deadline will be the announcement that the student is planning on submitting a proposal. Students intending to present a thesis proposal should make the department aware of that fact (date for making declaration). At this time, the student will meet with the professor teaching the Senior Conference and go over the expectations for a thesis and the various deadlines involved, both during the first and the second semesters. During this meeting, the broad area of interest will be discussed and the possibility of readers (first and second) will be established. During that same week, the student will arrange to meet with the first reader and begin to discuss the composition and format of the thesis proposal.
- Turn in a thesis proposal (due date). This thesis proposal will consist of a narrative in which the broad outlines of the intended project are provided and the general research area is established. This is an opportunity for the student to prove that s/he has the capacity to work independently and to think in a sustained and rigorous manner. The thesis proposal will be on a topic of the student’s choosing that entertains questions relevant to verbal cultures (this could include film, poetry, comics, various literatures etc.) in French. As a broad guideline, this document should consist of a 1000-1500 word narrative summary of the proposed project (intellectual justification, outline of methodology, etc), and a projected bibliography.
- The department will meet and discuss thesis proposals during the week before Thanksgiving. In the week immediately following Thanksgiving, the department will provide the student with feedback on the proposal (date). At that time, students will have the opportunity to adjust the proposal according to the French Department’s comments (or to shift to the Senior essay track). In some cases, the department may request very substantial changes without which the thesis will not be approved. If the student chooses to continue with the proposal, a revised version will be expected (due date for revised version). The French Department will meet again and final decisions and comments will be made by the first day of exams. At this time, the student will contact the first reader and set up a tentative meeting schedule for the spring semester.
- If the thesis is approved, the student will begin research over winter break. A fully annotated bibliography and a full thesis outline will be submitted to the first reader (click for date). At this time, a schedule will be established with the first reader for submitting chapters of the thesis. The student should expect to turn in 10 pages of work every two weeks.
- A rough draft of the thesis will be submitted to the first and second readers (click for date).
- The final draft of the thesis will be turned in to both readers (click for date).
- The oral exam will be scheduled for the first for days of the week after the end of classes (click for date).
- A clean copy of the thesis printed on high-quality paper will be turned in to the department at the time of the oral defense (click for date).
All of these dates are extremely important and you should consult with your first reader if you have any doubts about any of them or about departmental expectations.