Let's talk (briefly) about Senior Thesis
CCCP Senior Thesis: Three Options
According to the GLS guidelines, a standard Senior thesis is a written document of roughly 40-50 pages. CCCP students have three possible options for their thesis:
- A standard, "traditional" thesis that looks like that of other concentrations in GLS.
- A traditional thesis that involves creative or arts-based work at the level of method (for instance, a written project that involves documentary photography) or presentation (such as a web site.)
- A creative thesis.
The creative thesis tends to involve slightly less expository writing, but a substantial amount of student-generated visual or auditory material. Usually, this takes the form of photography, film, sound, and/or internet-based production. Sometimes, it takes the form of fiction writing. All student supplement their creative work with a scholarly process document that uses theory and methods publications to discuss their production process.
The Six Elements Every Thesis Must Contain
Whatever form it takes, every Senior Thesis contains has six major elements: Subject, Question, Objects, Lenses, Method, and Presentation. We will spend a fair amount of time on these elements this semester, but for now, here is a “cheat sheet” set of questions to guide you as you work:
- Topic: what is the general subject you wish to research?
- Question: what about your topic interests you? Why should it interest others?
- Objects: what specific cases, historical moments, geographical regions, or social groups most intrigue you, with regard to the question you raised, above? (Note: you may want to think of objects as subsets of your original subject, above.)
- Lens: whose theoretical work will inform and influence you as you consider your questions vis a vis your objects?
- Method: precisely what original work will you be doing as part of your research, how will you do it, when, where, with whom, and why?
- Presentation: how, when, and where do you plan to deliver the findings or results of your original work to your audience?
In addition to the six elements above, every GLS Senior Thesis will be expected to engage in some sort of comparative or “cross-thinking.” Generally, this involves at least one of the following:
- Thinking across cultures
- Thinking across histories
- Thinking across academic disciplines
- Cross-cultural research might involve comparing national practices, but it could also involve geographical regions within a nation, or compare groups organized by language, religion, age, subcultural practices, etc.
- Cross-historical research tends to involve different chronological time periods, but it could also compare accepted versus contested histories or views of events, populations, etc.
- Cross-disciplinary research tends to contrast views of a phenomenon using different academic fields (e.g. art history and biology; musicology and political theory, etc.), but it could also take the form of “research through practice” or a “creative thesis” in which the researcher creates a film, exhibit, piece of writing, music, advertising campaign.