The senior thesis is the capstone of the major in Spanish. Typically this is a major research paper of approximately 40 pages written in Spanish, depending on the topic and treatment necessary. Alternatively, a student may present a translation of a literary text accompanied by an analytical that clearly explicates the approach and relevance of the project in Spanish.
In researching and writing your thesis project, you will bring the knowledge and skills learned in your coursework in the Spanish department to bear on the topic of your choosing. Your thesis project should be broad enough to offer a reflection of your studies in Hispanic languages, literatures and cultures, yet concentrated enough to engage extensively and intensively with a single topic. The identification of a potential topic should begin as early as possible in order to give your ideas time to develop.
- Thesis proposal: Second Friday of the semester in which you write the thesis.
- The final draft of the thesis: The Friday of the last week of classes of the semester in which you write your thesis. Please note: no extensions will be granted without penalties.
- Identifying a Topic: From SPAN 205 through the 300-level courses, and in off-campus study, you will be introduced to a variety of topics and disciplinary perspectives relevant to the study of cultural productions in the Spanish-speaking world—fundamentally literature, film, and other forms of narrative representation, as well as language. Whether you choose to do a research paper or translation, your topic and approach should showcase what you have learned as a Spanish major at Bates. Upon declaring your Spanish major, you may already have an idea of the topics(s) that interest(s) you. If not, you should think about what grabs and maintains your attention in your coursework, and consult your advisor and other faculty as early as possible. You will have to do some initial research to see if your topic is substantial enough to be the focus of a thesis.
- Selecting an Advisor: Ideally, your thesis advisor has expertise in the topic(s) you are considering. Your advisor will be your most important guide for background information on your topic, sources, and methods. Please note: your thesis advisor may not necessarily be your major academic advisor.
- Developing a Proposal: The proposal is an organized discussion of your thesis. In it, you should outline your topic, identify your sources, summarize important or relevant scholarship, and outline a plan for research and writing. The proposal should be developed in consultation with your thesis advisor and should be approximately 5 double-spaced pages, including bibliography. Your proposal will include:
- A preliminary working title
- A thesis statement: This includes not only the articulation of your research question but also a brief description of how you will engage that question.
- A clear and concise outline of the materials to be analyzed (literary texts, other cultural products) or translated.
- A detailed bibliography list: Existing relevant studies and/or pertinent theories.
- Research: The most successful theses build on coursework and are planned well ahead. Theoretical approaches appropriate for your topic and a plan of action can be refined and elaborated in the process of writing the proposal. Ideally, this should take place the semester prior to the one in which you intend to write so that you have enough time to build your knowledge, test your ideas, and frame your topic as an argument.
- Writing: During the semester in which you decide to write your thesis, you must register for either SPAN 457 (fall) or SPAN 458 (winter). (If you are writing a year-long thesis, you must register for both SPAN 457 and 458.) Once your thesis proposal has been reviewed and approved by the department, you and your advisor will establish a calendar for the completion of preliminary drafts and a process for the final revision. Throughout the writing process, you must remember:
- Follow the latest edition of the MLA Handbook
- You are writing in Spanish, so you need to be doubly aware of grammar and syntax. Always revise before submitting written materials.
- Final Submission: You will submit your final thesis to your advisor who will evaluate and assign a grade. Senior theses are due on Friday of the last week of classes during the semester in which you choose to write.
Your thesis will be evaluated in terms of the following criteria: Eighty percent (80%) of the thesis grade will be based on the final product, and 20%, on the process: amount of work put into developing the topic or identifying the text to be translated, ability to meet deadlines and effort to make noticeable improvements to structure, style and grammar patterns through revision and editing.
A common department rubric will be used to evaluate theses as well as the analytical essay accompanying translations. Click here to download a copy.