The Senior Project is likely to be the most challenging piece of work undertaken within the student’s HUF career. It should also be the most satisfying assignment of all, being conceived and shaped by individual interests and potentially using a wide range of materials. South Asia offers limitless subjects for research, but the most essential component in a successful project is the enthusiasm and commitment of its author.
A completed project may take the form of an extended essay, an audio or video presentation, or some other coherent and cohesive production in an agreed format. Whatever format is followed, the project must be a substantive and original piece of work, showing intellectual sophistication in its treatment of the chosen subject. The primary language of the project is Hindi and/or Urdu, and the process of researching, discussing and writing the project is primarily in HU-medium: it is not a matter of writing a project in English and then translating it. Subjects chosen may usefully have some bearing on the scholar’s major.
Each project is supervised by a HUF professor; a second professor, who may or may not be associated with HUF, acts as second reader and is available for advice as the work proceeds. Proposals for the Senior Project are developed during the previous semester as part of HUF’s Hindi-Urdu Media course and provide the blueprint for the project as it develops. Scholars discuss their ongoing work at regular meetings with the supervising professor; they also make presentations of their work to their peers in class, taking advantage of group solidarity and mutual advice.
In choosing a subject, it is necessary to bear in mind the scale of the project: though undoubtedly it is the most substantial piece of work a HUF scholar has undertaken in Hindi/Urdu, it is still relatively small in scope, and requires a tight focus and a clear central idea that the scholar should be able to articulate in a sentence or two. A common mistake in any kind of thesis-writing is to take on too much: a clearly-defined and specific research question is much more appropriate than a wide-ranging survey that might require a book- length treatment to do the subject justice. It is also important to have a clear vision of the intended scholarly readership or audience for the project: the essay or other production must be intellectually rigorous, and a journalistic style is to be avoided. The project must include a detailed bibliography and sources used.
Students should start thinking about ideas for their Senior Project well in advance of their senior year; it is never too early to start! In particular, the Year in India is an ideal time for reading around the subject, formulating hypotheses and questions, collecting materials, conducting and recording interviews, and so on. The Senior Project gives HUF students a unique opportunity to develop a specific area of interest in creative and exciting ways, and every effort should be made to ensure the highest possible quality in terms of both content and production.