French - Fall 2011

Research interests & Programs   105 votes

  1. 1. If you had to choose *one* time period or area of interest in French studies, which would it be?

    • Moyen âge
      3
    • Seizième siècle
      0
    • Dix-septième siècle
      1
    • Dix-huitième siècle
      2
    • Dix-neuvième siècle
      7
    • Vingtième siècle
      9
    • Littérature contemporaine
      2
    • Littérature postcoloniale
      2
    • Cinéma français / francophone
      2
    • Théorie critique (sociale ainsi que littéraire)
      8
    • Aucune de ces options / Autre champ
      2
  2. 2. To which of the following Ph.D programs are you applying? (This is my list, but I've included an "other" option)

    • Berkeley
      9
    • Columbia
      16
    • Cornell
      7
    • Harvard
      10
    • NYU
      15
    • Princeton
      11
    • Yale
      14
    • Other
      23

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103 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Bonjour tout le monde !

Are you applying to French MA or Ph.D programs (for the Fall 2011 term)? Then this is the place for you! Feel free to share as much as you like about yourself with your potential future peers.

I'll start: I'm a recent college grad. I went to an Ivy (HYP) for undergrad and majored in French. I'm not sure how specific to get since I'm certain I'm the only student in my department applying for a Ph.D in the same field. I'm sure the awesome professors at the schools I'm considering have better things to do than troll around on this site, but just in case, on here I'm just JoeySsance.

I've been taking a gap year between the end of undergrad and the start of grad school. It's been productive, wonderful and stress-free so far... but now the GRE and grad school applications are lurking into the picture. (...ugh)

I'm applying to: Columbia (French & Comp Lit), Cornell (French), Harvard (French), Princeton (French) and Yale (French). I'm not sure whether to apply to Berkeley (French), NYU (French) or neither. I've decided I'm not applying to the French departments at neither U Penn nor Stanford. I'd really like to be in touch with anyone applying to any (or even most or all) of the schools on my list. And yes, one of the programs on my list is at the same school I attended for undergrad (in the same department - this is probably uncommon but if anyone is in the same boat, I'd be happy to know!)...

This thread is open to *absolutely all* potential French Ph.D students as well as MA students, applying to all schools, in the U.S. and abroad. Let's share in our excitement, help each other out with application-related questions and await decisions together.

I'm hoping to be in touch with some of you soon. Best of luck to all!!

À plus,

JoeySsance

P.S. If you haven't already - indeed it seems to be the first thing that shows up on this thread - do check out the poll questions I posted. This might be a neat (albeit limited) way to gauge everyone's general interests. We can, of course, elaborate on said interests in this thread ou bien, ailleurs!

Edited by JoeySsance

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Posted

To the mysterious 20th century lit student applying to some of the same schools as me: hey there! Feel free to post. I'd be happy to be in touch or to at least know a little bit more about your research interests.

N'aies pas peur. ;)

JoeySsance

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Posted

To the mysterious 20th century lit student applying to some of the same schools as me: hey there! Feel free to post. I'd be happy to be in touch or to at least know a little bit more about your research interests.

N'aies pas peur. ;)

JoeySsance

That would be me :)

I'm a college senior (who will graduate in May 2011). I attend an Ivy too (but not a HYP school :P )

A French major too, of course, with a strong interest in 20th and 19th century literature. Still working on those applications :) Applying to most of the schools you are applying to, in addition to Duke and Chicago.

It's pretty cool that you are taking a gap year... I considered doing that too, but decided against it.

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Posted (edited)

Awesome! Welcome, forsberg. I know the French Ph.D community is smaller relative to other programs, but I was really beginning to wonder whether anyone would post here...

Glad to know I'm not alone. :)

The gap year has been a must for me... After 4 years of undergrad, I felt I needed some time to explore my interests and to put everything into perspective. It's also given me time to relax and not feel as pressured about postgraduate plans (like a good number of my peers in the class of 2010). That being said, a little pressure is definitely starting to infiltrate my otherwise fun and relatively tranquil time abroad.

EDIT: Is there anyone else out there? There can't just be two of us... Perhaps I've posted this topic a bit early? Indeed, not all online applications are even accessible yet... Definitely stop by and say hi if you're also applying to Fall 2011 French programs.

Edited by JoeySsance

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Posted

...bump

Anyone else out there?

forsberg, who are some of the 20th century authors you enjoy reading most? Is there a specific faculty member at any of the schools with whom you'd be really happy working?

I hope more people join our discussion...

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I think you might have started the thread a bit early :P Who knows, I sure hope this thread becomes more animated in a month or two :)

I am pretty big fan of Gide and Camus, especially. I am pretty interested in the representation of both WWI and WWII and their historiography. As far as the 19th century goes, I enjoy Baudelaire and Huysmans in particular. What about you?

There are definitely specific professors I am keen on working with, dealing either with 19th or 20th century literature/history. I am not planning on contacting them though. I was advised against it by some professors of mine I spoke to. What's your take on this?

Edited by forsberg

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Posted

Hey forsberg, your interests are really neat! I've noticed that a fair handful of professors deal with 19th and 20th century lit, so you can't go wrong at most of the schools you're considering.

I'm mostly interested in structuralist and post-structuralist thought, mainly of French theorists, but also the German thinkers who influenced them and their branches in American and international critical theory. I started out interested in Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida which lead to an exploration of Nietzsche, Marx and Freud. Right now I'm most strongly influenced by French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan. I'm mostly interested in reconsidering some of the most fundamental axioms of French psychoanalytic theory with regard to the constitution of the subject. I like literary theory but I'm also quite passionate about theory in terms of social critique. My work looks at the intersections between psychoanalytic theory, queer theory and gender studies, race studies, ideology studies and semiotics (to name my biggest influences; admittedly I have a lot of interests when it comes to theory, which has lead to exciting interdisciplinary work so far). I would go into more detail but I'm pretty sure I'd be pinpointing myself rather exactly (if I haven't already)... :P

As for contacting professors, I really don't think it could hurt to contact a specific professor once to let them know you're excited about applying and that you may have a question or two. That being said, the only way contacting professors might hurt you is if you did so too often and without anything important to say or ask. I think I'm going to contact at least one or two departments' DGS because I have a question about the writing sample (for which I can't seem to find the answers on their websites or the schools' at all). By the way, how are you dealing with the fact that the schools we're considering have such varying writing sample requirements? Also, what did your professors say when they advised you against contacting the faculty at the schools to which you're applying?

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Posted

Thanks Joey! Impressive explanation of your interests :) I am a bit surprised you are not applying to Stanford, considering your interests, as the department there seems to love the interdisciplinary yet theoretical approach you described. I can understand not applying to Penn though :P

About contacting professors, the faculty members I spoke to weren't that specific, but they did mention that contacting professors beforehand would not really help your applications in any way. I know there is this ongoing debate about contacting the profs or not, but I am going to side with the no group :P Basically, I am mentioning them in my SOP(and making rather detailed references to their work) and I think my enthusiasm there will shine through :) I am going to let my letter do the talking and hopefully that works out.

As for the writing samples, trying to get the appropriate length for each school is definitely a pain. For example, Duke requires a 10 page one, whereas most schools seem to require a 15 or even 20 page sample, so I had no choice but to do some tweaking :( Some websites are also a bit unclear, as to how exactly you are supposed to send your sample. I think most schools have you send the sample along with the rest of your online stuffs (transcript, cv, etc), but others require you to send it separately to the department you are applying to. Kind of confusing :(

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, forserbeg! Now if only I can get the adcoms to react in a similar manner... :P

I have a few thoughts about Stanford and other general musings, but I'll PM you so we don't turn this thread into our personal conversation.

About contacting professors though, I looked into some of the threads you mentioned. I'm surprised at how many points of view there are on this... I've definitely reconsidered! I'm going to write to the department coordinators (the head staff members in charge of admsisions-related questions) rather than seek out faculty. More on this in the PM.

I definitely hope more folks join us in the next few weeks!

Edited by JoeySsance

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Posted

To the 19th century lit student who recently posted here: welcome! Feel free to tell us a little bit more about yourself, your research interests, etc. :)

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Posted

Hi!

I'm a student at Johns Hopkins getting ready to apply. I'm mostly interested in 19th and 20th century French literature, and specifically literary translation. I'm very interested in how things are translated, what needs to be changed, how translations affect literary history, etc. Since I'm also a math major and a creative writing major, I'm also obviously interested in l'OuLiPo, specifically Perec, Queneau, and Roubaud.

Still not sure where I'm applying yet. I have some ideas - I know there's a professor at Princeton who really interests me.

Nice to meet you both!

To the 19th century lit student who recently posted here: welcome! Feel free to tell us a little bit more about yourself, your research interests, etc. :)

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Posted

Hey! Awesome! Welcome aboard (or, overboard... whatever floats your boat). Ok, lame, I know. :P

I may or may not know which professor you're talking about... and I also may or may not have taken translation classes with him. I may or may not have minored in Translation and Intercultural Communication. While I didn't mention these interests earlier, I definitely love translation as well! I've got 8 languages on my CV; not all fluent (~ 4) but the rest between intermediate and advanced. The Oulipo group is really interesting. Everyone says I'm a walking, talking, breathing Comp Lit major... but I just love French thought so much. I hope my applications don't get forwarded to Comp Lit depts!

I'm glad to get a picture of my future peers' interests. I can't wait till more people join us.

I know it's quite early in the process, but how are applications going for everyone so far?

Good luck to all! Feel free to PM me if you want to chat a bit more about research interests, etc.

~J

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Posted

I'm applying to a couple of MA/PhD programs and some MA only programs but quite honestly I'm nervous. My grades are not great because my first 2 years were spent stumbling through different majors/departments, after that when I started my French major they improved greatly, however the damage had been done.

My area of interest is cultural studies, but in terms of literature, sexuality throughout the ages, especially in the 20th century and Middle Ages.

Most of all, I'm afraid I won't get into any programs, thus leaving my dreams of being a French professor high and dry.

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Posted

I'm applying to a couple of MA/PhD programs and some MA only programs but quite honestly I'm nervous. My grades are not great because my first 2 years were spent stumbling through different majors/departments, after that when I started my French major they improved greatly, however the damage had been done.

My area of interest is cultural studies, but in terms of literature, sexuality throughout the ages, especially in the 20th century and Middle Ages.

Most of all, I'm afraid I won't get into any programs, thus leaving my dreams of being a French professor high and dry.

Hey Elucidarius, welcome! I wouldn't worry so much about your cumulative GPA. As long as you've had a consistently strong performance in your French major, I'm sure that will hold more weight in grad school admissions. Don't be discouraged!

I'm also a big cultural studies person, and I like studying sexuality, too. I bet we would have a lot to talk about if we ended up in the same program.

So you like the Middle Ages? Are you considering Princeton's French dept.? Sarah Kay, a medievalist there, is one of the brightest in the field.

There are a few non-French programs you might like to consider, given your interests: Rhetoric at Berkeley and Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford. I might apply to both of these in addition to my handful of French programs. Check those out and let me know what you think.

Which departments and programs are you considering exactly? How's everyone else doing? I'm hoping this month and next will be a little more fruitful - or, more active, rather - in terms of discussions on this thread. Indeed our little bit of discussion so far has been fruitful insofar as some of us don't feel like we're in this process all alone... ;)

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Posted (edited)

I'm applying to a couple of MA/PhD programs and some MA only programs but quite honestly I'm nervous. My grades are not great because my first 2 years were spent stumbling through different majors/departments, after that when I started my French major they improved greatly, however the damage had been done.

My area of interest is cultural studies, but in terms of literature, sexuality throughout the ages, especially in the 20th century and Middle Ages.

Most of all, I'm afraid I won't get into any programs, thus leaving my dreams of being a French professor high and dry.

Hi Elucidarius!

I agree with JoeySsance - I think a PhD or MA program in French is mostly going to be focused on your French grades and enthusiasm. I'm sure both will shine through on your application, especially considering your transcript probably looks like you found your calling with French. You can probably also address those early grades in your Statement of Purpose. You should consider Hopkins! We have a really awesome professor of Medieval French literature here - Stephen Nichols.

I hope everyone's doing well!

Edited by Overboard89

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Posted

I'm currently in a French MA program and considering applying to PhD programs for Fall 2011. I was originally going to take a year off and work, to better determine that I really did want to continue my studies, but after only a few months of working in an office, I knew that I wanted to go back to school.

Cutting out a lot of the details, my basic situation is that I am now in an MA program that I don't like. There are quite a few non-traditional students, and I feel that the intellectual level of the graduates is not terribly high. My big complaint (among many) is that the two French literature courses I am taking are cross-listed as undergrad courses - there aren't any lit courses specifically for graduate students. I think this is a tad inappropriate, although I would like to hear someone else's opinion.

I am not sure whether I should just suck it up and finish my MA and then apply for PhD programs for Fall 2012, or if it would be better to just apply directly to PhD programs for Fall 2011. Any advice would be appreciated :).

I am currently considering the following programs - Stanford, Cornell, UPenn, Northwestern, U Michigan, Harvard, Yale, JHU, and Brown. Obviously I most likely won't apply to all of these, but these are some possibilities.

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Posted

Welcome! Do you mind telling us a little bit about your research interests? Which 20th century authors and works most interest you? I'll PM you with some advice regarding the questions you posed here. Thanks for posting!

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Posted

To be honest, I chose 20th century because I couldn't really narrow down my preference to one century. For the 20th, though, I'm interested in l'Oulipo, especially Robbe Grillet, and to a certain extent l'Oubapo.

Otherwise, my interests are in theories of performance, specifically performance involving music (i.e. troubadour lyric, opera, etc.), and perception/presentation of gender. Right now, I am particularly interested in representations of feminine madness, especially from 19th and 20th century opera (Donizetti, Thomas, Strauss, etc.) but also from French literature (Flaubert, Françoise Sagan, etc.).

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Posted (edited)

Your interests are really cool, Display Name :) ! It seems like with regard to your interest in l'OuLiPo, you and Overboard89 would have quite a bit to talk about.

So I think there's a sixth prospective applicant in our midst; a 19th century lit student. Whoever you are, welcome; come say hi! :rolleyes:

Edited by JoeySsance

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Posted

So our thread has racked up 1000 views! Ouais! I don't anticipate that we'll catch up in terms of our reply count, :P but it would be nice to take a quick pulse of all French 2011 applicants out there. How's everyone doing? Are you surviving the application process? Just a few months left... We can do it!

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Posted

Bonjour a tous!

I am so glad i found this thread. I am currently exploring the idea of applying to french MA/PHD programs and have many questions! So, if anyone can help me out I would greatly appreciate it!

I am almost done with my undergraduate degree and will be applying for fall 2012...so I have a little time but just want to do my research beforehand.

First of all I wanted to ask what everyone thinks of Comparative literature versus 1 lang/lit programs. Do, students often apply to both? I am considering this particularly because even though french has always been my passion, I speak 3 other languages fluently also so the idea of studying several literatures is interesting to me as well.

My second question involves writing samples: If I don't have any writing samples longer than 5 pages by the time I apply is it better to apply to MA programs first or do you guys think its possible to get into a good PHD program by sending several.

And finally: Just out of curiosity how many of you future French PHD students here are not of french origin or have not lived in france for a significant amount of years? I am always concerned with the problems non french natives might face when looking for a job!

Thank you all again!

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Posted

Hey, Katerina, welcome! I really wish I had been as diligent about grad school preparation as you are at this stage. That's great!

As for French vs. Comp Lit, this is a big question a lot of students in both fields have considered. I was pretty torn asunder with this question, actually. I happen to speak a fair handful of languages and people have always told me that I'm a walking, talking, breathing comp lit major...(as opposed to... a zombie? :P lol) ...except I actually majored in French in undergrad. There's just something about French literature and theory in particular that really draws me to it. The way I made my decision about which departments to apply to was by checking out French and Comp Lit departments at various schools and seeing which ones my interests resonated most closely with. It happens that in all cases, I either preferred the French department over the Comp Lit department, or neither (and I managed to whittle down my list to just 6 schools!). I would definitely advise you to take your time and check out many different departments to get a good sense for the breadth of faculty interests and research areas out there.

In terms of the writing sample, I was lucky in that at my undergrad school, writing a senior thesis was mandatory. Oh yeah, and I also didn't apply to grad schools right away. Taking a year off has given me time to really put my interests into perspective and to take some much-needed time off after a rigorous four years of undergrad. You might consider taking a year off for similar reasons and because it would also give you time to write a longer paper and work on your applications in general. If not, you could probably write it your senior year (whether as a thesis or an independent project) and get some guidance from faculty in your department. If not, then, yes, considering MA programs first could be a fitting option. Were you wondering if you could send several 5 page papers? I don't think that's possible because schools general expect the writing sample to read as an individual and internally coherent piece but I suppose it depends on the specific program. At one of the schools on my list, UC Berkeley, the required writing sample length is between 5-8 pages. You might want to look into Berkeley. All of the other schools I'm considering ask for anywhere between 15-25 pages; some in French, others in both French and English.

I'm not French but I've gotten to near-native fluency thanks to well... majoring in French and also to both studying and working in Paris for a while. In terms of the job market... That's a story for a whole other post. The outlook is pretty bleak in general. As long as you keep studying French, you should attain a near-native fluency level, which should ease your concern about proficiency. Furthermore, a lot of the French faculty with the most prestigious titles and awards from the French government, etc. that I've either worked with in undergrad or encountered in the various programs I'm applying to are mostly non-native French speakers! So no need to worry!

AS A SIDE NOTE: IT LOOKS LIKE THERE ARE SOME NEW RESPONSES ON OUR THREAD'S POLL... ARE THERE FELLOW FRENCH LITERARY AND SOCIAL THEORY FOLKS IN OUR MIDST? Sorry for the all-caps... I just wanted to make sure this didn't get overlooked. Feel free to introduce yourselves and tell us about your research interests and where you're applying!

Bien à vous tous !

joey

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Posted

Merci beaucoup!

Glad to hear your response. Yes I am beginning to make decisions slowly because I know that there are a lot of schools/programs to consider. I love the french language/literature too but am interested in other literatures as well. Thanks for your advice- i will definitely look into the programs in detail.

I am only concerned about my GPA since I know that in a lot of "State schools" they just look at your last two years (undergrad), but for such PHD programs as Ivy schools etc...they probably consider your whole GPA right? My concern is that since my first two years weren't that great I might not have a great chance to get in. Even if i am dedicated now.

Out of curiosity how many of those 6 schools did you get into?

Yes i am exploring the option of writing a research paper while abroad, but I really don't want to take a year off since I already took several years off before to work (and didn't go to undergrad. straight for 4 years).

How many years did you stay in Paris?

I am here now for a year and my French is improving very rapidly:)

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Posted

Also wanted to ask everyone: do you guys think there are more job prospects with a Comp Lit Phd since potentially one could teach in different disciplines?

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Posted (edited)

Hey again! I'd like to clear one thing up. I'm actually currently applying to French Ph.D programs for the first time... So I don't know yet where I'll be accepted...

Don't worry about the GPA issue. The general consensus is that programs tend to look favorably on upward trends in grades. If it really bothers you, you could even explain your circumstances but then frame it as a strength [i.e. acknowledge that your earlier grades weren't so strong - and if there are mitigating circumstances you feel comfortable mentioning, then bring them up - but then focus on how your grades have improved, especially (hopefully) in your French courses].

I studied abroad in Paris for the spring semester of my junior year, which was around 5 months or so and stayed on to complete a summer internship at UNESCO for another nearly 3 months. Then, my senior year, I got funding from my department to go back to Paris to do thesis research over fall and winter break (which added another nearly two months). Overall I've only lived in Paris for just under a year.

My thesis adviser told me that most students in Comp Lit end up seeking jobs in single-language departments... In my case, while I'm applying to French departments, I've noticed that at some of the schools on my list I can pursue Comp Lit jointly with French, either as part of the Ph.D (as is the case at Columbia) or as a secondary field (as is the case at Harvard). If some of your other languages are Romance Languages, then some of the schools on my list I would recommend to you are: Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell. All three of these schools, in their own ways, have a Romance Languages Ph.D option where you can work on literature in two or more languages. At Harvard, for example, to participate in the secondary Comp Lit track, you have to commit to teaching a Comp Lit course, which would obviously be favorable on your applications if you plan on eventually applying to teach in Comp Lit departments.

I hope you find my comments helpful! Oh, and by the way, profite bien de ton séjour à Paris ! :)

Edited by JoeySsance

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