Honors in French and francophone Studies
The Honors thesis in French and Francophone Studies differs from a one-semester thesis in that it is a piece of research and writing in French sustained over the course of two semesters and culminates in an oral defense of the research project according to the guidelines of the College’s Honors program.
All theses require students to present original work on a given topic and to situate their work in relation to other scholars in French and Francophone Studies. For the Honors thesis, student engage in a developed scholarly dialogue in French with experts in the field. It includes sophisticated analytical models as well as more extensive research than a thesis written in a single semester. Normally, theses follow MLA standards and manual style.
Honor’s Nomination Process – French and Francophone Studies
Primary steps in the Honors nomination process
- Discuss the possibility of doing Honors with an advisor and indicate your interest in the winter semester of the junior year. Submit before May 15th a short thesis pre-proposal that includes a clear statement of the issue proposed to study, the primary sources to explore (texts, films, other cultural productions) and a preliminary bibliography of secondary sources.
- Submit a final thesis proposal on the second Monday of the fall semester of the senior year. The proposal should include a clear statement of the issue proposed to study, the primary sources to explore (texts, films, other cultural productions) and an annotated bibliography of secondary sources.
- Give a presentation on your project at one of the FFS majors writing workshop (atelier de recherche) in the fall semester of the senior year.
- Submit a complete table of contents and draft of one chapter of the thesis the Monday after the Thanksgiving break.
- Give an oral presentation on your project to the members of the French and Francophone Studies faculty in the first week of the winter semester.
Winter semester/Short term of the junior year
Discuss the possibility of doing Honors with an advisor and indicate your interest in the winter semester of the junior year. Submit before May 15th a short thesis pre-proposal that includes a clear statement of the issue proposed to study, the primary sources to explore (texts, films, other cultural productions) and a preliminary bibliography of secondary sources.
Summer between junior and senior year
Students intending to pursue Honors are expected to further develop their thesis topic prior to the start of the fall term of the senior year. You should consult with your thesis advisor during this time period and work toward the completion of an annotated bibliography of secondary sources.
Fall semester of the senior year
The final thesis proposal is due in to your advisor on the second Monday of the fall semester of your senior year. The proposal should include a clearly defined thesis topic/question and have identified the key components of the thesis that will need to be developed, how your questions fit into the existing literature, the primary sources you explore (texts, films, other cultural productions), an annotated bibliography of secondary sources and a preliminary outline and timetable. This is a working document that will help you and your advisor and it may be revised over the course of the semester.
The Department Committee, in consultation with your advisor, will indicate whether you have met the basic requirements (usually a GPA over 3.5 and excellence in academic accomplishments in previous work at Bates) and have a satisfactory thesis proposal to proceed toward possible nomination for the Honors program.
Potential Honors students will give a presentation on their project at one of the French and Francophone Studies writing workshop also knows as Ateliers de recherche.
Students intending to pursue Honors must submit to their advisor and the Chair of the department of French and Francophone Studies the following items by the Monday after Thanksgiving break:
- A clearly defined thesis topic that identifies the key components of the thesis that will need to be developed and states how your questions fit into the existing literature related to your topic of study.
- A table of contents for the thesis that includes a title and brief description of the content for each chapter.
- A working draft of at least one chapter of the thesis.
- An annotated bibliography of secondary sources
These materials will be read by members of the department of French and Francophone Studies. In consultation with the advisor, they will judge the quality and thoroughness of the table of contents and chapter to determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of an Honors thesis.
Winter semester of the senior year
Honors nominations are due to the college at the end of the first week of the winter semester. Students intending to conduct Honors will give an oral presentation to the thesis advisor and faculty of the French and Francophone Studies the first week of the winter semester. This presentation should provide the committee with an organized overview of the project, a description of progress made to date, and future plans including a timetable for completion of the project.
The student must be able to answer questions posed by faculty and engage with them in a scholarly discussion of the project. The committee will judge the quality of the presentation, the quality of the project to date, and determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of an Honors thesis and make a decision whether to formally nominate the student for Honors.
If, at any time prior to the submission of the written thesis, the thesis advisor feels that the student is not meeting the expectations of the department of French and Francophone Studies for a satisfactory Honors thesis, she or he has the authority to withdraw the student from the Honors program. A student formally nominated for Honors can withdraw from the program at any time prior to the thesis submission deadline or oral exam date.
Honors Expectations – French and Francophone Studies
Receipt of Honors in French and Francophone Studies is a special distinction reserved for those students who have excelled in their academic accomplishments throughout their time at Bates and have completed a thesis project with certain distinguishing characteristics and features. The distinction of Honors requires that the student and the thesis meet all of the criteria specified below. The effort the student puts in along with the approach to the topic and final thesis document all are important factors in a decision of whether to award Honors. An outstanding performance in several of the expectations for Honors may offset a less than exemplary performance in another area. A significant deficiency in any one expectation is sufficient grounds to deny Honors. The thesis advisor has the authority to withdraw the student from the Honors program at any time prior to the submission deadline for the written thesis. The oral examination panel members, who may consult with the advisor, have final authority for judging whether the student has satisfactorily met the criteria for receipt of Honors.
- The thesis must explore a novel question or topic within the field of French and Francophone Studies and use methods drawn from the student’s field of inquiry (literary analysis, film studies, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, gender studies, etc.). This exploration should be exemplary in its design, methodological rigor, creativity, breadth or depth, and ideally will be characterized by exceptional work in more than one of these facets.
- The student must demonstrate a high level of self-motivation, independence and continuous engagement in the project over the entire two semesters.
- The thesis should describe a project that, if brought to completion, would be suitable for dissemination within an appropriate peer-reviewed venue in the student’s area of study. In most instances, this means that the thesis work would be suitable for publication in the peerreviewed literature, either as a stand-alone item or as part of a larger project. The program recognizes that two semesters of work is seldom sufficient to complete a project to the point of a peer-reviewed publication or final public presentation, but the project should be on a trajectory for such an outcome.
- In the written thesis and oral defense, the student must be able to demonstrate a near native mastery of written and oral French, a thorough understanding of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the project.
- One or more chapters of the thesis must develop the necessary background, theory and/or methodology through a thorough discussion and citation of relevant, published literature.
- In the written thesis and oral defense, the student must demonstrate facility and expertise within the field of French and Francophone Studies as well as the more focused culture and period of her or his thesis topic.
- The thesis must be well written in French and accessible to expert and non-expert audiences. A high quality written thesis is well organized, concise, grammatically and mechanistically correct, coherent and logical in its arguments and development of ideas. The written thesis normally must follow MLA standards and manual style to cite appropriate sources that inform the project. Language must be precise, sophisticated and incorporate terminology appropriate for the topic of the thesis.
- The student must be able to answer questions posed by the examination committee and engage with members of the committee in a scholarly discussion of all facets of the project. The student must also recognize the limits of his or her knowledge, understanding or creation and be able to identify appropriate next steps in analysis, study or exploration of literature.