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The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture at NYU is part of a network of intellectual sites grouped within the Center for French Civilization and Culture. The Center branches into the University's four significant spheres of activity in French Studies: the Department, the Institute of French Studies, NYU Paris, and La Maison Française. These form the most comprehensive American academic complex devoted to the culture of France, past and present.
The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture currently has 20 faculty members, representing a broad spectrum of specialization in all areas of French literature and civilization, and 15 full-time language lecturers. In addition, the Department offers courses by eminent visiting professors, including Réda Bensmaïa, François Cornillat, Marielle Macé, Christian Biet, Yves Citton, Philippe Roger, and François Noudelmann.
The Department offers approximately 8 graduate seminars each semester, with enrollments ranging from five to fifteen students. Thus, students are able to choose from the rich offerings of a large department, yet also enjoy the opportunity for close, personal interaction with professors.
Mini-seminars are another important feature of the department's program (See Upcoming Events). Some who have headed seminars in recent years are: Michel Zink, Michel Deguy, Jacques Darras, Guy Scarpetta, Jean Milly, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, Jacques Roubaud, Danièle Sallenave, Claude Simon, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Garelli, Robert Abirached, Erik Arnoult, Viviane Forrester.
PROGRAMS OF STUDY
Doctoral students must complete 72 points of post-undergraduate coursework (about 18 courses). This may include credits earned during M.A. work at NYU or transfer credits from another graduate institution.
Ph.D. in French Literature
The Ph.D. program in French literature prepares students to teach in all areas of French and Francophone literature, stressing both breadth and depth through research seminars and qualifying exams. Ph.D. students in French literature will complete coursework in all seven fields--Medieval, Renaissance, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, and 20th century and Francophone literatures--as well as a proseminar in textual analysis. The program also trains students to be outstanding researchers and important contributors in the field which best speaks to their intellectual passions.
Students in the French Literature track are allowed to take on an interdisciplinary approach to their studies that will enable them to conjoin the study of literature with cinema, fine arts, music or with the social and human sciences (history, linguistics, politics, sociology, anthropology). Students design a course of doctoral study that reflects their special interests and takes advantage of the exceptionally rich resources of New York University (Institute of French Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Dramatic Literature, Theatre History, Cinema Studies, etc.). Interested students should meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss their desired track.
Joint Ph.D. in French Studies and French Literature
The Institute of French Studies (IFS) at NYU is an interdisciplinary program devoted to the study of modern and contemporary France and francophone countries. The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture and the IFS offer a joint Ph.D. in French Studies and French that is designed for students interested in developing research expertise in the history and analysis of literary texts closely linked to their social, cultural, and political contexts. It prepares students to teach both literature and civilization in French departments, and gives them the scholarly expertise to integrate the two. The Joint program combines strong training in literary analysis with substantial exposure to the study of France, Europe, and the Francophone world, offered by historians and social scientists. The program covers 19th and 20th-Century France and French literature, although students ordinarily develop a narrower research specialty within this time period.
The specific focus--and challenge--of the joint degree is the marrying of a social science research approach with a literary one. Students applying to the program should have a background both in French literature and in history and the social sciences. Admission to the joint Ph.D. program must be granted by both the IFS and the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture.
**The department is currently not accepting applications to the M.A. program.
M.A. in French Literature
The course of studies leading to the M.A. in French Literature is comprehensive in that candidates are expected to acquire a broad knowledge of all areas of French literature. Students in French Literature are expected to acquire a solid background in critical practice and a broad knowledge of all periods of French literature by completing at least one course each in six of seven areas (Middle Ages; Renaissance; 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; Francophone) and one course in textual analysis.
All students admitted to Ph.D. programs at the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) will receive a Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship, for a period of five years. This fellowship includes full tuition remission, waiver of registration and services fees, and health insurance through NYU, as well as a competitive fellowship stipend toward your expenses. GSAS also provides a one-time start-up stipend for first-year students.
Students who enter with external funding may still be awarded a MacCracken fellowship to ensure that they are receiving full-funding from both sources combined. Following the MacCracken Fellowship, students are encouraged to apply for both internal and external fellowships.
In addition to the stipend, our doctoral students are strongly encouraged to teach for four semesters to gain invaluable experience for their careers. And with the implementation of Financial Aid Reform (FAR4), teaching as an adjunct instructor provides compensation over and above the MacCracken stipend.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND LOANS
Additional information on Financial Aid and Fellowships is available through the GSAS website and through the NYU Office of Financial Aid.
Students may transfer credit earned from a master's degree towards doctoral coursework in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and pending approval from the Graduate School.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
Native or near-native fluency in French is expected of all graduate students in the NYU Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture. This requirement is filled by passing any graduate-level course taught in French.
Doctoral students in French Literature are also required to fulfill a requirement for a second foreign language apart from French or English, preferably by the end of the second year. This can be fulfilled in several ways: (1) having taken and passed an intermediate-level language course no more than two years prior to matriculation into the graduate program, (2) taking and passing such a course while in residence at NYU, (3) passing a GSAS-administered foreign language exam. If a student is a native speaker of a language other than French or English, he or she may petition the Director of Graduate Studies for a waiver of this requirement.
The joint Ph.D. in French Literature – French Studies do not have a second foreign language requirement.
The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture offers at least 8 graduate seminars each semester, covering a broad spectrum of topics in French literature and civilization, critical theory, the history of ideas, cultural studies, film, Francophone studies, and translation. See current course offerings and the bulletin course descriptions.
INTER-UNIVERSITY DOCTORAL CONSORTIUM
Even if not formally enrolled in an interdisciplinary program, students in the Department are welcome and encouraged to take courses outside the department and through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium which are germane to their research interests.
The Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC) offers eligible GSAS students the opportunity to take graduate courses at distinguished universities throughout the greater New York area. The IUDC has been in existence for over 25 years and offers students an enormous array of courses and opportunities for contact with faculty and students in their fields.
Participating schools are: Columbia University, Princeton University, CUNY Graduate Center, Rutgers University, Fordham University, SUNY Stony Brook, the Graduate Faculty at New School University, Teachers College at Columbia University, and New York University.
The IUDC is open to doctoral students from participating schools who have completed at least one year of full time study toward the Ph.D. Terminal master's students and non-GSAS students are not eligible.
Students are encouraged to take courses at the IFS--or any department--that pertain to their research interests. Doctoral students in the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture may complete a Certificate of Achievement in French Studies by completing four courses at the IFS while in residence at NYU.
Students may also apply to earn a certificate in Poetics and Theory, certificate in the Digital Humanities or a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
The NYU Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture instructs over 1,000 students per semester in its language and content classes, many of which are taught by students in the Ph.D. program as adjunct instructors. The Department feels that teaching is an essential experience for its doctoral students to grow in their skills and confidence as educators and to be competitive on the job market. With the implementation of Financial Aid Reform 4 (FAR4), teaching as an adjunct instructor provides compensation over and above the MacCracken stipend. Ph.D. students in the Department typically teach for two years, usually beginning in their second year of coursework.
Doctoral students may also have other opportunities to teach, such as undergraduate summer language or literature courses in New York or at NYU Paris.
First-time adjunct instructors receive training in the form of a week-long intensive Teaching Orientation the summer before they begin teaching. Training continues in a bi-weekly Teaching Seminar and Workshop through the fall and spring semesters, in which students examine the theoretical underpinnings of second language acquisition and explore praxis through sample lesson plan and exercise creation, test writing and analysis, textbook analyses, and peer- and self observation. This Teaching Orientation and Workshop is a required course for all doctoral students in the Department and carries two points toward the 72-point Ph.D. requirement.
STUDYING IN FRANCE AND ABROAD
At NYU Paris, students in graduate studies have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in French intellectual and cultural life. Students join a rich and stimulating academic community that is small enough to provide individual attention yet is made up of some of the very best scholars in French literature, history, and civilization. Host to a series of conferences and lectures that bring together artists, filmmakers, politicians, and writers, NYU Paris is a thriving center of intellectual and cultural exchange. See the NYU Paris site for more information.
Ph.D. students may elect to take courses at NYU Paris in the summer. Students may also apply to hold a resident assistant position at NYU Paris in the summer, perhaps coupled with study there. There are also opportunities for students to teach summer language courses and, during the academic year, one student is needed to teach a literature course in the Anglophone program, as well. Students may also find it fruitful to participate in the Provost's Global Research Initiatives program.
The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture also has an agreement with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in both Lyon and Paris that allows up to two doctoral students to spend a year or semester at the ENS and participate fully in its seminars.
After finishing coursework, doctoral students may choose to conduct research for their dissertation in France or other relevant locations. They may continue to draw on their MacCracken fellowship as it is available and may also be eligible for supplementary funding through additional competitive fellowships at NYU or externally. The faculty will make every effort to assist students in making contact with relevant universities, libraries, archives, and other resources.
NYU's Bobst Library houses over 3.3 million volumes, twenty thousand journals, and over 3 million microforms. NYU also has reciprocal borrowing privileges with several other nearby university libraries and reciprocal on-site access with Columbia's Butler Library. In addition, the New York Public Library is freely available and boasts four major research centers and myriad local lending branches throughout the City. The Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media at Bobst Library offers an impressive selection of French film; the Department also houses a small collection of films of its own.
The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture is housed at 19 University Place, just north of Washington Square Park and just across the street from La Maison Française and the Institute for French Studies on the historic Washington Mews.
LA MAISON FRANÇAISE
La Maison Française is one of the most active centers of French-American cultural exchange on any American campus. Founded in 1957 on the historic Washington Mews just north of Washington Square Park, the Maison offers a year-round program of activities, including lectures, roundtables, conferences, film and video screenings, art exhibits, concerts, and special presentations. All events are free and open to the public.
INSTITUTE OF FRENCH STUDIES
Established in 1978 through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of French Studies (IFS) offers degree programs for Ph.D. students for careers in higher education and master's programs to prepare students for careers in international business, banking, the media, cultural organizations, and government. In addition to its teaching programs, the Institute of French Studies fosters research by faculty, doctoral students, research associates, and a wide array of visiting scholars, who share their research through the French Studies Colloquia public lecture series and weekly luncheon seminars.
GRADUATE STUDENT COMMUNITY
There are approximately 40 graduate students based in our department here at NYU Washington Square. All graduate students are invited to take part in the French Graduate Students' Association (FGSA), which serves as a forum for students on both the master’s and doctoral level. Through meetings and a regular dialogue with the Director of Graduate Studies, the FGSA provides an organized channel through which graduate students voice their interests and concerns and make suggestions to the faculty. The Graduate Student Association also organizes a series of “brown-bag lunches,” including work-in-progress discussions. Individual students have also convened dissertation writing groups, the teaching and training committee, and other initiatives.
In addition to this, graduate students participate in a series of Teaching and Training workshops organized by the graduate student instructors and Language Lecturers and take responsibility for organizing events for undergraduate students such as the monthly Ciné-Club, and Café et Conversation conversational hours.
In 2016, current and recent graduates obtained tenure-track positions at Kalamazoo College and Michigan State University. Students also accepted one-year appointments at NYU and NYU Paris. In 2015, current and recent graduates obtained tenure-track positions at Amherst College. Students also accepted one-year appointments at NYU, College of William and Mary, and Dartmouth College. See Job Placements page for more information.
APPLYING TO NYU
Please visit our Applications page for more information on how to apply to one of our programs.
If you have more questions about the graduate programs in French at NYU, contact the graduate aide via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the department at (+1) 212 998-8700. If you have questions about the online application, review the information found at the Graduate School of Arts and Science Application Resource Center.