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MA French Studies Handbook: Thesis

The thesis is a substantial work that demonstrates your knowledge and skills in a particular area of interest. (You should choose a thesis topic as early as possible in your graduate studies in order to complete the program on schedule. Copies of previous students' theses can be found in the HBLL (call number PN29.02) and in the department seminar room. The thesis requirement is normally filled by a thesis on a topic demanding research and analysis.

Thesis options:

Option 1: select a thesis topic in concert with a faculty member who will serve as your thesis advisor. The thesis should include original research on a narrowly defined topic. Theses generally include an introduction, three or four chapters, and a conclusion and run, on average, around 80 pages in length. This first option is strongly recommended for students who plan to go into a doctoral program upon completing the MA.

Option 2: select a thesis topic in concert with a faculty member who will work with you on a research project with the objective being a co-authored article to be submitted for publication. Your thesis should include the following: 1) an abstract of the article, arguing for its significance (approximately 5 pages); 2) a critical bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to the article (approx. 10 pages); 3) a description of what you learned about research, writing, methodology, theory etc. including a description of what you specifically contributed to the article (approx. 5 pages); 4) a conclusion that suggests other avenues of research suggested by your co-authored article (approx. 5 pages). The finished article (for copyright reasons) will not be included with the thesis, but it may be sent to external reviewers when our program is evaluated. For this option you are still required to submit a prospectus and defend your thesis in front of a committee.

When you start on your thesis, you need to enroll in French 699R, Master's Thesis. You can sign up for as little as 1 credit hour until you reach the 6 credit hour limit.

Thesis Advisory Committee

The thesis advisory committee has the major responsibility of guiding you in completing a thesis. Usually the advisor and reader you have been working with on your prospectus will comprise your Thesis Advisory Committee. The committee consists of a thesis chair and at least two readers. Form your advisory committee from faculty members with whom you would like to work and who have strong backgrounds in the thesis area. You will need to consult with the Graduate Coordinator in your choice of advisory chair and reader. The French & Italian Department faculty cover a variety of specialties in literature, however, you may go outside the department for a committee member if your subject requires it. Until the Advisory Committee is formed, the Graduate Coordinator will be your advisor.

After prospectus approval, the student works closely with the thesis chair. However, although the bulk of research will be done in consultation with the thesis chair, the other two readers should be contacted from time to time as they may be able to give you other research guidelines especially in their areas of expertise. All written work must be approved by all committee members as it progresses. In other words, do not surprise the readers with a completed thesis a couple of weeks before the oral defense. The thesis advisor should call meetings with the student and committee as needed to monitor progress.

Thesis Format

As of October 1997, the university has new guidelines for submitting theses, dissertations, and projects. PLEASE READ THESE CAREFULLY. The thesis in its final form must adhere to the Office of Graduate Studies requirements (see "Guidelines for Submitting Theses, Projects, and Dissertations"), the MLA Handbook, 3rd ed., and the Department of French & Italian's style guide. Also included in this handbook are word processing hints. The thesis can be written in French or English. Please note, however, that punctuation in French is different than that in English. See the pages from the Chicago Manual of Style for some of the differences. However, if you are using French quotes even when they are quite extensive and the body of the text is in English, use English punctuation throughout. You need to be consistent throughout the thesis.

For native English speakers: you should attempt to write your thesis in French only if you believe you communicate as effectively in French as you do in English.

Thesis Defense

After the thesis has been completed to the satisfaction of the committee in every detail, one copy is given to the graduate coordinator to check for format. After approval, one copy of the thesis is placed in the department office, one is given to the graduate coordinator, and one is given to the oral committee chair. A Thesis Defense Release Form, signed by the thesis advisor and second reader, allows the Department Graduate Secretary to start the scheduling process for the thesis defense. The thesis defense is scheduled for two weeks after the copies have been submitted to the graduate coordinator. (See more information on this under Orals.)

Preparing and Submitting Copies for Binding

After successfully completing the oral examination, the thesis will be corrected with suggestions made by the committee. When corrections have been completed and checked by advisory chair, four or more copies should be copied onto 20 lb bond paper, at least 25% paper. (See "Minimum Standards for Submitting Theses, Projects, and Dissertations," page 53.) The thesis may now also be submitted electronically: speak with the graduate college for details.

An example of Form 8d which you use to submit copies of the thesis follows. Please read the instructions on back of form (page 52). [NB: The signatures on the Acceptance Page should be originals, not photocopies of signatures.]