JOINT PHD IN FRENCH STUDIES AND FRENCH LITERATURE
The joint Ph.D. Program in French Studies and French allows students to blend rigorous training in literary analysis with a broad, multi-disciplinary exploration of French and Francophone worlds from the French Revolution to the present. Housed at both the Institute of French Studies and the department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture, students chart their own course between both units, exploring ideas and methods while devising specific research projects with a wide array of faculty and graduate students. These opportunities — as well as a slate of courses and events conducted in both English and French — make our program truly unique in the field. The joint program prepares students to teach both literature and history or the social sciences in French departments, and gives them the scholarly expertise to integrate the two.
From year 1, students attend advanced seminars in literary criticism, conduct original research, and take courses in other disciplines of their choice, including cinema, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, media studies, and gender studies. Working closely with advisors at the IFS and the French department, they explore new ideas while working toward a dissertation prospectus (to which they turn in earnest in year 3). In the French department, students take courses with faculty whose domains of expertise include queer and feminist theory, history of the body and emotions, environmental humanities, political and critical theory, theory of the novel, history in fiction, and cinema. At the IFS, they delve deep into French and Francophone history and social sciences while working with faculty whose research revolves around the Caribbean and post-colonial circulations, migration, the politics of place and memory, ethnography, race and identity in France, the Maghreb, West Africa, family history, and new modes of historical writing.
Because of the program’s small size (2-3 incoming IFS Ph.D. candidates per year), faculty provide close mentorship as students devise their research questions, prepare for their qualifying exams (beginning of year 3), apply for grants, begin publishing and presenting at conferences, conduct research abroad, and then write their dissertation. Beyond distribution requirements, students have flexibility in devising their own program. They typically take one-on-one individual studies with faculty, study with the prestigious visiting professors the French Department and IFS bring to campus every year, enroll in courses at Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers, and other universities in our Consortium, and, if they so wish, learn languages (Arabic, Wolof, Haitian Kreyol, etc.) that will open new research domains. Students also participate in weekly workshops with their IFS cohort and faculty, and a monthly doctoral seminar, during which they obtain feedback on their own writing. Conferences and talks at NYU’s Maison française provide further access to eminent scholars, writers, and artists.
Most joint students spend one summer at the IFS’s program in Paris, taking courses with French scholars and conducting research. Many take advantage of our exchange program with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, spending at least a semester within its walls. In New York, students are guaranteed paid opportunities to teach in the French department, and may gain additional teaching certification at the Lycée français de New York. Through our in-house journal French Politics, Culture & Society and the leadership of its editor Liz Fink (a specialist of Western Africa and a graduate of the joint program), they benefit from Public Humanities initiatives that prepare them for careers within and beyond academia (writing, cultural diplomacy, secondary teaching, etc.) The faculty are committed to building a diverse, supportive community of students from multiple backgrounds and disciplines. The application process requires a single dossier, which is read by faculty from the IFS as well as the French Department. Fluency in French and English is required (though no GRE). Students with a B.A. or an M.A. are welcome to apply.
For more information, visit the NYU GSAS Bulletin or the IFS Graduate Student Handbook.