Honors & Capstone
I. The Awarding of Honors
Our department does not require completion of Wesleyan General Education expectations for department Honors. After receiving the recommendations of the departmental Honors committee, the regular members of the department may award Honors or High Honors in Romance Languages & Literatures to majors who have a grade point average of at least 92 in courses taken for the major through the fall semester of their senior year, and who have completed one of the following projects:
1. a thesis with a grade of Honors or High Honors. A thesis is a two-semester project, normally 70-100 pages in length, involving substantial research and writing. Students writing a thesis will enroll in FRST, ITAL, or SPAN 409 in the fall and 410 in the spring.
2. an essay with a grade of Honors. An essay is a one-semester project of research and writing, normally 35-50 pages in length. Students wishing to present an essay for honors must enroll in FRST, ITAL, or SPAN 403 in the fall and complete the project before the beginning of the second semester.
3. a two-semester project with a grade of Honors or High Honors. The departmental Honors Committee must judge this project to require initiative, sustained intellectual effort, rigor, and creativity equivalent to that required by a thesis. Students wishing to present a two-semester project for honors will enroll in FRST, ITAL, or SPAN 409 in the fall and 410 in the spring.
4. a one-semester project with a grade of Honors. The departmental Honors Committee must judge this project to require initiative, sustained intellectual effort, rigor, and creativity equivalent to that required by an essay. Students wishing to present a one-semester project for honors must enroll in FRST, ITAL, or SPAN 403 in the fall and complete the project before the beginning of the second semester.
5. a student may petition to write an essay or complete a project in the spring semester. Such a petition needs to be submitted to the chair of the Honors committee no later than 1 December. The petition must include all the documents required of a regular application (see below) and present any work done in preparation for the essay/project. If the petition is approved, the student will need to enroll in FRST, ITAL or SPAN 404 in the spring.
In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition to be accepted in the Honors program with a GPA slightly below the expected average of 92. Such a petition should be sent to the chair of the Honors committee by the end of the first week of class. The chair, in consultation with the pertinent section, will make a decision.
Please note: Students presenting an essay or one-semester project will not be eligible for High Honors.
II. Application for Admission into the Departmental Honors Program:
Students wishing to be considered for departmental honors in their senior year must:
1. have a minimum grade point average of 92 in courses taken for the major both on campus and abroad, through the end of the spring semester of the student’s junior year. When the chair of the Honors Committee is in doubt as to which courses taken abroad count towards the major, s/he will consult the student’s advisor;
2. submit the complete application materials (see list below) to the chair of the Honors Committee at least 72 hours before the end of drop/add in the fall or by 1 December for spring petitions. A faculty member must agree to serve as the tutor for the project before the student submits his/her application.
Proposals should include:
1. a one-page single-spaced description and rationale of the main topic, including a clear thesis statement (even though it is likely to be modified as you proceed with the work) and brief overview of the scope of the project;
2. an explanation of the likely scholarly value of the proposed work for the field(s) under consideration;
3. a brief annotated bibliography with 5-6 sources. Please consult the library website to become familiar with the format and purpose of an annotated bibliography. You can link to it here at http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/guides/annotbib.hmtl;
4. a description of your preparation for the project (previous and/or anticipated coursework, research, experience);
5. a copy of your academic transcript;
6. your tutor’s written endorsement.
We strongly encourage you to work with your tutor on this proposal.
Insofar as possible, students interested in entering the honors program should begin work on their projects in the spring of their junior year. Although each tutor may organize his/her own tutoring independently in consultation with you, you should expect to meet with your advisor regularly (at least once every other week) and receive deadlines to submit parts of your work. All thesis students, regardless of the home department of their tutor, must participate in two department-wide events: The Fall Honors Workshop, sometime in October, and the Spring Honors Forum, sometime in February. Essay students must participate in the Fall Workshop.
Students who begin one-semester projects and decide in the course of their work that they would like to transform them into two-semester projects may do so if their tutor and the department’s Honors Committee concur. Requests to transform a one-semester project into a two-semester project should be submitted to the chair of the Honors Committee no later than the end of the first week following the Thanksgiving recess.
At any time during the year, should the tutor inform the department’s Honors Committee that the proposed work is unlikely to be completed, or if the expectations of quality and scope are unlikely to be fulfilled, the student will be given the option of transforming the project into a one-semester honors project or of withdrawing from the honors program and completing the work as a tutorial.
In the event of a conflict between a student and his/her tutor’s recommendation to withdraw from Honors, the tutor should inform the Honors Committee, which will consult with the appropriate section to determine whether the thesis/essay should be considered for Honors or submitted as a regular tutorial.IV. The Evaluation of the Project
The completed project will be evaluated initially by two faculty members chosen by the tutor in consultation with the student. One will normally be a faculty member other than the tutor from the section in which the student is majoring. The other will normally be from another section or from another department. The task of evaluating projects should be distributed equitably among the members of the department. Potential evaluators should be contacted well ahead of the deadline for the submission of projects.
When faculty agree to evaluate projects, the chair of the departmental Honors Committee should inform them that they will need to submit a recommendation for No Honors, Honors, or High Honors within a week after the project is submitted in order to allow time for resolving discrepant recommendations. The chair should also explain the No Bar option.
Every project will be evaluated by two evaluators in the first instance, who will award the project one of the following grades:
No Honors/No Bar Honors
Honors/No Bar High Honors
The No Bar option indicates that the evaluator has no objection to the project being awarded the next higher grade if the other evaluator has given it that grade. Two grades of No Bar do not activate each other. That is, two grades of No Honors/No Bar Honors would not be sufficient to validate a recommendation for Honors.
When the two evaluators are in disagreement about the grade (e.g. one gives a grade of Honors while the other gives a grade of No Honors or High Honors) and the disagreement cannot be resolved through recourse to the No Bar option, the chair of the departmental Honors Committee will select a third evaluator, normally a member of the department, in consultation with the tutor, whose evaluation of the project will decide the final grade. The various combinations are illustrated below:
Cases of the extreme disagreement (where one of the three evaluators gives HH and another NH) will be resolved by the departmental Honors Committee.V. The Honors Project Fund
1. The department has set aside funds to help seniors in the Honors program of the Romance majors (FRST, HISP, ITST, RMST) with small expenses incurred by their Honors project. A limited number of small grants can be made during the academic year. Eligible expenses: those incurred in the preparation of a senior thesis or senior essay project (e.g., to pay for books and photocopies or as a supplement for research-related travel).
2. Application process: Honors project grants are made at the discretion of the chair of the department's Honors program in consultation with the chair of the department. Students should submit a written application stating the scholarship-related purpose, proposed budget, and any other sources of funding sought by the student. Applications are considered on a rolling basis in the academic year of the student's honors project and grants are made until all funds for the year are spent.
Majors in Romance Languages & Literatures are not required to participate in a senior capstone experience. Nevertheless, the department encourages all seniors to reflect on, and take stock of their development in, their respective majors.
Recognizing that some students may wish to engage in a project that would prompt such self-evaluation, the department makes the following recommendations.
Any of the projects in the following list, which is not exhaustive, could serve as senior capstone experiences:
- A senior thesis or essay or another senior honors project.
- A senior (group) tutorial.
- Organizing and participating in a student forum devoted to an aspect of Romance cultures.
- Organizing and participating in a play in a Romance language.
- Serving as a TA or CA in a language course.
- Creating an orientation program or information and support network for study abroad in Romance language settings.
- Teaching a Romance language in a school.
- Teaching English to Romance-language speaking immigrants.
- Serving as an interpreter in a legal setting.
- A community service initiative where a Romance language is used. Volunteering, for example, at a soup kitchen or food pantry where there is an opportunity to interact with native speakers of a Romance language.
- Organizing a Romance-language film or speakers’ series or other event(s) to promote an awareness of Romance cultures across the university.
- Creating and maintaining a Romance Languages & Literatures majors web page.
Projects need not be undertaken for credit and group projects are strongly encouraged.
There is no deadline for the sort of reflection and self-evaluation that the department hopes all majors will engage in. However, those majors involved in senior capstone experiences are invited to give a presentation to faculty and other majors before March 30 of their senior year.