Senior Project

Senior Project Handbook


The MCLL Senior Project is intended as a capstone experience for students in the Classics, French, and German majors. Preparation of such a project in your final year can focus your interests, provide perspective in your major, develop basic scholarly skills, foster creativity and independent effort, and synthesize your educational experiences. Besides independent work, the project also involves close associations with faculty members, particularly with the professor supervising your work. Such sustained interaction contributes greatly to the quality of the experience. Students completing a senior thesis in the Honors Program in French, German or Classics do not need to do a separate MCL Senior Project, but will present their Honors thesis at the Senior Project conference.

Getting Started

To begin work on your senior project, you must (1) choose your topic, and (2) choose your project advisor. These choices are closely related.

Choosing the Topic

The student will choose a topic for a written project for presentation at a departmental conference. The project, written and presented in the target language, may be a development of a course paper. In this case, students will choose a work from a previous course in their major and prepare it for presentation, expanding its substance by readings in secondary literature and/or by further analysis, and correcting problems of grammar and style. The project might also involve literary translation and commentary, a unit of lesson plans appropriate to a student's Education major or minor, preparation of a reading list and subsequent exam discussion, creative writing or other interdisciplinary projects based on previous class work.

Choosing the Advisor

Choose an advisor who you feel will help you reach the goals of your project. If a faculty member cannot direct your project, please contact the department chair who will help you find another advisor. The choice of advisor must be made by December of the senior year for May graduates, by mid-September for December graduates.

Expectations of the Faculty Project Advisor and of the Student

A faculty member who agrees to supervise your project expects four basic things of you: (1) to be genuinely committed to the research or creative project, which should fit into your course of study, your interests, and your post-B.A. plans, (2) to have an adequate general preparation in the subject, (3) to have well-defined and obtainable objectives for the project, and (4) to be responsible for meeting deadlines.

The faculty member who agrees to be your project advisor will help you to accomplish the following tasks: (1) doing an adequate literature search and developing a bibliography, if relevant, (2) focusing the topic, (3) achieving a good outline, organization, and style, and correct use of the target language, and (4) preparing the final draft by reading the paper carefully, critically, and in time for you to make final revisions.

MCL Senior Project Timetable

Fall Semester, Senior Year

Early in the semester: Choose possible project topic, choose advisor. Begin work on your project to be sure you have a good topic for you. Experience suggests that the most important advice is START EARLY! If the project is to be of maximum value, preparation must begin long before the final deadline.

November-December: For May graduates: Register for FREN 399, GERM 399, GREK 399, or LATN 399 (1 credit). December graduates should be registered by Fall Semester.


Write a one-page proposal in English describing the project and submit it to your project advisor for their signature by the first class day in December (see checklist below). The proposal should be typed in English, double-spaced and in triplicate: leave one copy (hard copy or email attachment) with your advisor, turn one copy in to the department coordinator for the chair of the department and keep one copy for your records. At this time you will also agree with your project advisor on a schedule for completion of the work in the spring semester. Normally you will meet with your advisor twice a month to discuss the progress of your work on the project. The student is responsible for scheduling meetings.

The Project

The student and advisor will meet according to the schedule agreed on, and the advisor will monitor work on the project.

Form of the Senior Project is to be agreed upon by the student and the advisor. The student and advisor will agree on a deadline in late March for a complete draft (late November for Fall graduates). The final draft must be complete by the end of the first week in April (December). All copies of the project must be on white paper. Photocopies may be made only on high quality machines. It is essential that the type of all copies of the thesis be clear, black, and neat. Use a letter-quality printer or a laser printer. Corrections in the final typed draft must be made typed. No visible corrections or correction tape should be seen. (e.g. If white liquid correction is used, Xerox the corrected page before submission.) In regard to documentation (footnotes, bibliography, etc.), the general guide should be the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or another guide agreed upon by advisor and student.


After you have completed the final draft of your project, write a 150-word summary in English of your work. This is to be submitted to the department coordinator via email before the date of the presentations to aid in the planning of the sessions. The abstract will also be printed in the program for the presentations. Please include your advisor's name and the title of your work.

Below are examples of abstracts written by former students in French, German and Classics:

Haute trahison? : Pétain et le régime Vichy.
MICHELLE R. EBERHARD (Dr. Chuck Villette, French)

During World War II, Germany annexed the northern portion of France while installing a puppet government known as the Vichy regime in the southern section of the country. Headed by the Marechal Pétain, France's war hero from the Première guerre mondiale, Vichy remained the powerful authority of L'Etat Français for over four years. During this time, Pétain changed France's motto from « liberté, égalité, fraternité » to « travail, famille, patrie, » a stark resemblance to the Germans' creed, and also pursued « la révolution nationale, » wherein he attempted to regenerate a nation destroyed by its current economic and social situations.

Unfortunately, Pétain also created one of the darkest moments in France's history, as he allowed for France's collaboration with the Nazis and helped them pursue their Final Solution. Why Vichy? Why Pétain? Why collaboration? And why do Pétain's actions still ruminate in the memories of the French today?

Immigration and the German school system: a Freirean perspective.
MATTHEW T. BECK (Dr. Anna Lisa Ohm, German)

During the economic boom of the 1950's, Germany welcomed guest workers from other countries to help rebuild its economy. Since then, the children of many of these immigrants have struggled to succeed in school. In order to improve their situation, I suggest that a combination of Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy, multicultural education, and collaborative dialog may help immigrant children acquire both the language skills and the cultural knowledge necessary for academic success. In this project I draw upon theories of second language acquisition; works by educational theorists from Germany, America, and Canada; and the experiences of German educators.

Plato, Aristotle, and the Effects of Music on the Soul
BEATRICE ZOVICH (Dr. Margaret Cook, Classics)

I am comparing the writings of Plato and Aristotle concerning the importance of music in the ancient Greek world. I am particularly examining the role they believed music played in education and in building character and nurturing the mind and soul.


Students should prepare a 10 minute presentation (in the target language for French and German, in English for Classics) for the presentation. In addition to summarizing the content of their project, students might also explain how they came to the project, how the project evolved, what difficulties they encountered, and what they learned from the project. The department will host a mini-conference late in the semester for the presentations of student work. Concurrent sessions will be set up by sections. The abstracts will be distributed to students and faculty in advance.

The project will be graded H/S/U, on the basis of both written work and oral presentation.

Presentation Schedule
(Late April for spring graduates/December for fall graduates)

Most likely part of Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day.

MCL Senior Project Checklist


November of Senior year

Register for FREN 399, GERM 399, GREK 399, or LATN 399

By first class day in December

Submit a project proposal to your project advisor and MCL chair, and agree upon a schedule for the work to be done.

February and March

Be in regular contact with your advisor to be sure you are on track.

Late March

Give a complete draft of the project to your advisor for comment and suggested revisions.

By end of first week of April

Submit a final draft of the project to your advisor, together with an abstract which will be circulated to MCL faculty and major.

Mid-April (TBA)

Senior presentations (10 min. per project)
Buffet reception.


Spring of Junior Year

Register for FREN 399, GERM 399, GREK 399, or LATN 399

Mid to late September

Submit a project proposal to your project advisor and MCL chair, and agree upon a schedule for the work to be done.

October and November

Be in regular contact with your advisor to be sure you are on track.

Late November

Give a complete draft of the project to your advisor for comment and suggested revisions.

Early December

Submit a final draft of the project to your advisor, together with an abstract which will be circulated to MCL faculty and major.


Senior presentations (10 min. per project);
Buffet reception.