The Honors Program

The Honors Program provides qualified students the opportunity to complete a two-semester, six-credit research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor.  Each Honors project culminates in a thesis and oral defense.

Completing an Honors project can be one of the most academically rewarding experiences of your undergraduate career. You can learn more about Honors projects if you visit the Charles Center's website

The Honor Thesis in French and Francophone Studies


Initial application

Oral examination

Possible questions for the defense

Possible results

Recent and Current Projects

An Honors Thesis in French and Francophone Studies

An Honors Thesis in French and Francophone Studies offers the superior student an opportunity to work independently, to acquire knowledge in depth of a specific subject, to carry through to completion a substantial piece of research in literary and/or cultural studies or in linguistics, and to acquire a sense of scholarly discipline . The Honors essay should exhibit the candidate's knowledge of the subject, and scholarly and critical judgment. It should not merely collect and present the conclusions of others, but should also show that the student grasped and explored the subject independently and has independent conclusions about it.

The research for an honors thesis should start ideally in the summer preceding the senior year :

  • possibilities of scholarships through the Charles Center for the summer (i.e. "Batten scholarships" for example)

  • students could be expected to come back in September with a paper which could be part of a chapter/or with a bibliography. The student has then developed a better idea of what s/he wants to do. With a paper in hand, the writing process is de-dramatized. To de-dramatize the writing process even more, I compare a thesis with a series of long papers (each chapter could function as a paper with a well-constructed argument).

The work for an honors thesis should correspond to the work of two 3-credit classes in French and Francophone Studies at the 300/400 level, plus independent research to do a bibliography.

The thesis will normally be written in French and should run to a length of about 50 double-spaced pages. Quality rather than quantity is the important criterion.

Students should meet with all three readers during the second semester before turning in the final thesis.


The student must have achieved a 3.0 cumulative quality point average or a 3.0 quality point average for the junior year alone. A 3.3 QPA in French and Francophone Studies is also required.

Initial application

The proposal must be made in the spring preceding the senior year.

Oral examination

Examining committee: 3 people, 2 from the French and Francophone Studies section and one outside reader. In the event of co-directorship, the committee could include another colleague in French and Francophone Studies.

If the thesis is unacceptable, the committee always has the possibility of calling off the defense, or at least of preparing the student for a final result less than honors.

Possible questions for the defense:
  • How did the student come up with the topic ?
  • How did s/he conduct his/her research ?
  • Ask the student to present the main thesis, and to defend the arguments.
  • What could be changed if s/he could work further on the topic ?
  • What makes this thesis a work in literature/cultural studies/linguistics/history ?
  • How did the student select the books with which s/he worked ?
  • Check the student's familiarity with contemporary discussions on the topic and familiarity with methods and resources in literary research/or research in linguistics, cultural studies, etc
  • Honors: clear, well structured argument, awareness of relevant scholarship, acceptable/good written expression, demonstration of independence of thought
  • High Honors: depth of scholarship, student worked independently, ability to follow through an argument, clarity of presentation that surpasses the requirement for Honors
  • Highest Honors: original and exceptional

When a student is awarded honors or above, an A is awarded for FR 495 and FR 496.

  • Unsuccessful Honors Thesis: the grade for FR 495 or FR 496 COULD be an A IF the student made all meetings with the director, turned in work in a timely manner.

Recent and current projects.

Here are some recent honors projects in French and Francophone Studies: 

  • Zarine Kharazian, Le droit à l'oubli numérique : enjeux politiques, socio-culturels et juridiques en France

  •  Kristin Ritchey – Lieu de mémoire, lieu d’amnésie : la tension dentitaire en Guadeloupe

Magali Compan, Maryse Fauvel, and Lynn Weiss

  • Elizabeth Bloxham

Michael Leruth  


          Emily Eyestone, "Blurred Lines: Exploring (Musical) Subjectivity in Debussy and Verlaine" (Highest Honors)

           Robert St. Clair + Sergio Ferrarese, Charles Palermo, and Brian Hulse

          Elena Santini, "The Scandal and Allure of Otherness" (Highest Honors)

                    Robert St. Clair + Magali Compan, James Armstrong

  • Daniel Hodges, "The French in Congo/Zaire: a History of Convoitise" (High Honors)
    • Michael Leruth + Nicolas Médevielle, John Froitzheim
  • Bridget Carr, "Franco-Senegalese Relations through the Lens of Development Aid (1895-2012)."  (Highest Honors)
    • Nicolas Médevielle + Michael Leruth, Dennis Smith
  • Stephanie Kumah, "Le Front oublié: une analyse de la représentation de la guerre par l'auteur francophone." (High Honors)
    • Magali Compan + Robert St Clair, Jonathan Glasser
  • Kristina Leigh Walton, "Privatized Public Space and the Construction of Bourgeois Identity in the Nineteenth-Century French Shopping Arcade" (High Honors)
    • Michael Leruth + Margaret McColley, Ronald Schechter
  • Mary Cashell, "Cross-Currents of Culture: Exoticism and Identity in an Occidental Setting" (Honors)
    • Ron St. Onge + Margaret McColley, Tim Barnard
  • Shannon Daily, "'We are all Americans': French Perceptions of the United States in the Post 9/11 Era" (Honors)
    • Michael Leruth + Ron St. Onge, Ron Schechter
  • Katherine Spatz, "Logique et Crise Identitaires: Alterité et Identité Dans La Littérature Francophone" (Highest Honors)
    •  Magali Compan + Michael Leruth, Ron Schechter
  • Katherine Leach-Kemon, "Prostitutes in Eighteenth-Century France" (High Honors)
    • Giulia Pacini + Leisa Meyer