French Studies

The French Graduate Program

The Department of European Languages and Studies at Irvine offers a graduate program in French with a strong theoretical and multidisciplinary orientation. Besides exercising specialties in the field of French and Francophone literatures, its faculty members are actively involved in related disciplines such as critical theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, sociology, women's studies, cultural studies and comparative literature. The orientation of the program in French is a result of the faculty's sense, despite individual differences in fields of interest and approach, that the analysis of discourse and its strategies, vocabularies, structures, presuppositions, and goals constitutes the principal object of literary study.

The theoretical and multi-disciplinary approach to literature is a demanding one, requiring both a knowledge of the specific disciplines brought together and a critical awareness of its own strategies and concepts. The graduate curriculum seeks to provide the student with the necessary tools for advanced literary study, so conceived. In small seminars designed to stimulate intellectual exchange, students and faculty explore literature written in French within the context of relevant historical, cultural or theoretical issues. They raise questions engaged by literary discourse and they study critically the theories formulated to account for literature and its contexts.

The Department offers two tracks toward the Ph.D. in French: 1) Studies in French and Francophone Literature and Culture; and an 2) Interdisciplinary Option in French and Francophone Studies. The second option reflects the interdisciplinary teaching and research interests of the faculty and the increasingly comparative nature of French and Francophone studies across the country. It should appeal to students interested in a double specialization or who already have an interdisciplinary background. This option would prepare students to teach French language and a range of culture and literature courses in French as well as in interdisciplinary humanities programs. Students in the first option also pursue their work in several courses in related fields outside the department and can choose to do a formal Emphasis in Critical Theory, or Women’s Studies.

Students are encouraged to pursue their work in a French-speaking country. An exchange program with the Université Paris X, Nanterre or one of various fellowships can provide the means. Students also may apply to spend the dissertation year as graduate student instructors in the UC Education Abroad Program in French and European Studies in Paris.

The Department offers the degree of doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in French. The Master of Arts degree (M.A.) is considered a step towards the Ph.D. degree. Only students intending to pursue full-time studies toward the doctorate are admitted to the program.

The UCI Graduate Program co-hosts a Conference for Graduate Students with the graduate program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The conference location alternates each year between Irvine and Santa Barbara and features presentations by graduate students at every level. Professors and graduate students from other programs also participate. The conference contributes to the Department's on-going attempt to provide graduate students with professional experience and training. Professors in the Department also lead seminars in Job Hunting and Grant Writing and organize Mock Interviews for graduate students seeking employment in higher education.

Recent graduates of the program teach at such institutions as the University of California at Davis, University of Michigan, University of Maine, Reed College, University of Texas at Austin, University of Missouri, University of California at San Diego, and University of Alabama.

Teaching and Professional Activity

Teaching is part of the training of a Ph.D. candidate, and the Department recognizes a responsibility to provide the appropriate instruction. Teaching Assistants are required to attend a mini-seminar in teaching methods before the start of classes. They must also complete a ten-session seminar where they can discuss issues of curriculum development, course organization and pedagogy on a more theoretical level. Teaching Assistants work under the supervision of the Language Program Director. Typically, students hold Teaching Assistantships throughout much of their graduate career.

Students are encouraged to publish and to attend conferences while in graduate school. Support is available for travel to professional meetings to present papers. Support is also available for student-sponsored speakers and conferences. Graduate students sponsor an annual conference in cooperation with their peers in the French program at UC Santa Barbara.