As part of the Hispanic Studies major, students will complete a capstone project (HISP 500) in the first or second semester of their senior year. The capstone project is meant to showcase what the student has learned in four years at Oberlin, in particular through his/her coursework in Hispanic Studies and related fields. It normally consists of a substantive written portion and a public presentation, both in Spanish (more details below).
The capstone project should be defined during course registration preceding the capstone semester, in consultation with the major advisor, through the capstone form (click here to download the form in Word format). The capstone requirement can be fulfilled in several different ways. Most majors will designate one 400-level Hispanic Studies course taken during senior year as their capstone course, in which case the capstone project will be on a topic related to the course, and will also take the place of the final assignment in the course. Since normally the instructor of the course will function as capstone mentor, students should seek approval of the course instructor at the beginning of registration period.
Students may also fulfill their capstone requirement independent from their 400-level coursework in Hispanic Studies, either through coursework in other programs or through Private-Reading work with one or more faculty. In all these cases, students need to secure approval from the Hispanic Studies Department chair, their major advisor, and the faculty involved at the beginning of registration period.
The precise topic, and scope of the capstone project will be determined at the latest one week before the mid-semester break, in consultation with the capstone mentor and department chair. At this time, capstone students will submit a one-page abstract and bibliography.
Normally the project will consist of an extended critical essay or research paper (15-20 pages) written in Spanish. Depending on the course and the student, however, other projects may be acceptable as well, including translations, performances, exhibits, or other creative work. In the latter three cases, the student will be expected to provide a shorter accompanying essay in Spanish in which s/he comments and reflects on the guiding principles or theoretical framework and the methods or process regarding the project.
The department will arrange for all Hispanic Studies majors engaged in capstone work to meet together several times in the course of their capstone semester. The Department will organize an event at the Casa Hispánica at which all graduating seniors who have completed a capstone project will give a 10-15 min. presentation on their project (in Spanish); alternatively, capstone projects may be incorporated into an honors defense or the campus-wide senior symposium.
The HISP 500 capstone project is a zero-credit course; the project is graded as part of the designated course.
Capstone Options for Honors Students and Double Majors
An Honors project in Hispanic Studies automatically fulfills the capstone requirement. Students double-majoring in Hispanic Studies and related fields (such as Latin American Studies, Comparative Literature, Comparative American Studies, Cinema Studies, etc.), or doing an honors project in a related field, are encouraged to propose a single capstone project that pulls both majors together. Combined projects may count as the Hispanic Studies capstone only if (1) a Hispanic Studies faculty member is involved as a capstone mentor; (2) a significant portion of the project is conducted in Spanish; and (3) the project includes a minimal level of cultural analysis and theoretical reflection on the cultures of the wider Spanish-speaking world (Latin America, Spain, US Latino culture). All capstone projects include an oral presentation in Spanish.
The Honors Program in Hispanic Studies is a two-semester sequence of six hours of independent study, in consultation with a faculty sponsor, culminating in either an honors thesis or a special project, e.g., a translation, creative writing, or video project. Students may be invited to participate in the program, but are also encouraged to express their interest to the faculty.
The Honors program provides the opportunity to work in a sustained and in-depth manner on an independent project of interest to the student. Honors projects should address topics related to the languages, literatures or cultures of the wider Spanish-speaking world, and are written in Spanish.
To be considered for admission into the department Honors program a candidate must normally have a 3.25 overall GPA and a 3.5 GPA in courses taken for the major at Oberlin. Every potential candidate is strongly advised to complete the basic course work for the major before undertaking an Honors project.
- Normally a formal application is submitted to the department for approval by April 15 of the candidate's junior year. In exceptional cases those students absent from campus during that time may present a proposal at a later date but in no case later than the first week of classes of the senior year.
- The application should include a proposal for the project to be undertaken as well as the candidate's interest and qualifications to carry out and complete the project. The proposal must also come with the approval of the faculty member who will serve as project director.
- By September 15, the candidate is required to submit an annotated bibliography assembled in consultation with the thesis advisor. By December 1 the candidate is required to submit to the department a well-developed prospectus and bibliography. At this time, the candidate will meet with the reading committee for the project who shall recommend continuing or abandoning the project. It is expected that a first draft (or equivalent, for technology projects) will be completed by the end of the January Winter Term. By Spring Break of the second semester the project should be nearing completion. A copy of the completed project should be submitted to each member of the reading committee for consideration by April 15. A date for the oral defense is set in relation to the deadline for the department's recommendation sent to the College Committee on Honors at Graduation. Customarily this date falls in the first week of May.
- One week before the scheduled presentation, the candidate will submit to each member of the Hispanic Studies Faculty an outline of the Honors Project and the complete bibliography.
- Should the candidate's progress be deemed unsatisfactory as a result of the oral presentation, the honors credit may be turned into a private reading credit.
- By a designated date in late April of the senior year, the candidate will submit two clean, bound copies of the Honors Thesis to the primary readers and two clean, collated photocopies for the rest of the faculty for evaluation.
- The Senior Oral Examination is not to exceed sixty minutes and will focus on the content of the Honors Thesis. The time designated for the oral defense will be divided according to the following schedule for purposes of questioning the Honors candidate: First reader: 20 minutes; second reader: 10 minutes; other faculty: 30 minutes.
- After the defense, the candidate will supply two clean, revised bound copies of the honors thesis for archiving, one for the library and one for the department.
- The degree of honors to be awarded at graduation (Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors) will be determined by the Hispanic Studies faculty.