Princeton University - Department of French and Italian
Guidelines For Junior & Senior Independent Work
- 1.1. Independent Work: Goals and Skills
- 1.2. Junior Papers
- 1.3. The Senior Thesis
- 2.1. Areas of Concentration
- 2.2. Literature and the Humanities
- 2.3. Other Fields
- 3.1. Junior Papers
- 3.2. Senior Thesis
- 3.3. Calendar for Departmental Independent Work
- 4.1. Advising
- 4.2. Grading Independent Work
- 5.1. The Senior Departmental Examination
- 5.2. The French Junior Seminar
- 5.3. Reading Lists for “Concentration in French and/or Italian”
- 7.1. Junior Semester/Junior Year Abroad
- 7.2. Summer Language Study
- 7.3. Summer Work Abroad: The “Princeton-in-France” Program
- 7.4. Postgraduate Resources
Choosing to concentrate in French and Italian – languages spoken by respectively 320 and 61 million people worldwide – means embracing and celebrating the wealth of a truly humanist education. In our program, you will encounter the language and rich culture of communities in Europe and far beyond, refining your linguistic and cultural proficiency and exploring the literary, artistic, political, philosophical, and scientific contributions that have had lasting global impact. Whether you wish to become a medical doctor, a financial consultant, or a schoolteacher, your intellectual and analytical potential will be fostered actively in the Department of French and Italian, where you will learn crucial skills in research, writing, close reading, critical analysis, and cultural competency. The size of our department allows faculty to be heavily involved in facilitating each student’s achievement of personal, intellectual, and professional goals, and the availability of resources for travel, research, professional development, and creative projects makes these goals all the more attainable. While language acquisition is central to our program, FIT also provides the ideal environment for cultivating your passion for literature, continental philosophy and theory, contemporary politics, cinema and theater studies, media studies, history, or your creativity in writing or the performing arts. Our graduates have gone on to pursue a wide range of careers, and their linguistic and cultural fluency has consistently been a determining factor in their success.
These guidelines serve as a supplement to the FIT Undergraduate Handbook. Focused on the specific subject of Independent Work, they detail essential aspects of the most significant element of your undergraduate studies at Princeton University.
In the following pages, you will find what is expected of you and what you should expect while producing three pieces of Independent Work: two Junior Papers and a Senior Thesis. You will find information about the goals of the Independent Work, a portrait of the discipline, which defines the areas of study in the Department of French and Italian, as well as the achievements and challenges of scholarship. Details about the process and timelines for each kind of Independent Work are included, as well as the criteria used by the faculty to evaluate and grade your work. In the final sections of these guidelines, you will find information about the final examinations and the defense of the Senior Thesis, the ultimate step towards graduation from the Department of French and Italian.
A successful piece of Independent Work entails the development of an original set of significant research questions and a compelling thesis, the outlining and execution of a research plan, and the writing and editing of a polished, convincing argument. The faculty and infrastructure of our department will support you in each step of the process.
1.1.Independent Work: Goals and Skills
Through your work, you will be able to show that you have developed skills specific to your concentration, such as proficiency in the language of your targeted concentration, research skills, mastery of close readings, and analysis of texts or data in the original language and culture. These skills may include identifying an original issue or question, or questioning pre-existing knowledge of a topic or issue, or breaking new ground. You will thus demonstrate your willingness to question or challenge the current boundaries of the discipline, as well as your ability to enrich existing scholarship or establish grounds for new research, for instance by pursuing topics related to new technologies, innovative art forms, etc. You will, in short, be able to show your full potential as a scholar and professional.
As a concentrator in the Department of French and Italian, whether you write on a literary, cultural, socio-political, or artistic topic, you will need to hone the following skills in your Independent Work:
- Analytical Skills
In great part, this entails showing you can discern all possible ramifications of an issue, and do so with rigor and method. You should be able to anticipate objections against your arguments, illustrate the logic of your reasoning, and express in clear and succinct terms why you have taken a certain position.
- Research Skills
This involves finding what has been said about an issue and developing your own response to these existing arguments. Your Independent Work will also provide an opportunity to master research tools, such as databases, cross-referencing tools, etc. Managing data volumes (distinguishing promising leads, cross-referencing findings, identifying essential references and setting aside those too broad or too specific, etc.) can be especially challenging at times, and working on your JP or Thesis will improve your efficiency when sources/data are too abundant or too scarce.
- Critical Skills
Whether you focus on literary or artistic materials or gravitate towards more empirical data within the fields of history or sociology, you will have the delicate task of finding the balance between objectivity (for instance, avoiding over-reading or unfounded speculations) and subjectivity (where your personal take on the issue is both fundamental to a successful and original critique and risky insofar as it could bias your findings). From a technical standpoint, some safeguards have always proven necessary, such as quoting the text and avoiding paraphrasing. These techniques will help make your work not only sound, but also compelling. Furthermore, writing critically does not mean agreeing with everything that has been written or said on the issue before you, even by the “highest” authorities, nor does it mean preemptively dismissing earlier analyses. The guiding question therefore becomes: What is the best way to respond to preexisting criticism and scholarship?
- Writing Skills
Through your Independent Work, you will develop your own voice and style and will learn how best to convey what you mean through writing. The best exercise in achieving this goal will be to write multiple drafts, soliciting feedback from your Adviser and others, and taking seriously the advice they offer. It is also helpful to read the work of scholars you admire and use their writing as a model.
- Organizational Skills
Because you will be working under the pressure of departmental and university deadlines in addition to your usual coursework, you will need to learn the delicate balance between multi-tasking and more concentrated focus. This requires skills in time management, realistic goal-setting, and basic administrative organization. Writing an Independent Work will refine these skills for organizing your ideas and managing time.
- Communication Skills
In working with your Adviser, you will learn how to balance diplomacy and assertiveness (e.g. gauging how far you wish to implement your Adviser’s advice). This aspect of your work will offer essential insight on how to debate, converse, and share your opinions and findings in a scholarly setting. In addition, you will showcase your communication skills during the final Oral Presentation, which, after the Comprehensive Exams, will give you an opportunity to reflect on your itinerary through the Department and its curriculum. (See Section 5).
Junior Papers constitute the first form of Independent Work in the Department of French and Italian. More detailed information will be given in the section “3. Process and Timeline”.
- 1.2.1.The First Junior Paper (4,000 words)
- The first JP constitutes the first step toward a sustained research work and an ambitious writing project. The primary goal is for you to write an extensive yet concise analysis of a well-defined topic, within a limited corpus, which will include both primary and secondary literature. Consider, for instance, the difference in breadth and scope between a project like “Public Space in the Work of Zola,” which could be a Ph.D. dissertation topic, and “The Café as a Subversive Public Space in Zola’s Ventre de Paris,” a much more focused topic devoted to a single novel only. The first JP is the venue for developing your skills in close reading, devoting attention to details that you deem pertinent for your argument. Secondary material should be used, but in limited volume.
- 1.2.2.The Second Junior Paper (5,000 – 8,000 words)
- Usually undertaken during the Spring semester, the second JP is more ambitious in its breadth and depth. In it, you may consider broader, more comprehensive and conceptual topics (e.g. “Figures of Patience in Dino Buzzati’s Short Stories”) or you may take a comparative approach (e.g. “Is Sleeping a Humanism? A Study of Albert Camus’s L’Étranger and Marguerite Duras’s India Song”).
- 1.3.The Senior Thesis
- Late in your junior year, you will discuss possible areas of interest for the Senior Thesis with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. As the culmination of Independent Work, seniors will write a thesis on an approved topic, with help from a main Adviser and a secondary reader. Topics chosen in the past have ranged over the whole field of French and Italian studies, from linguistic issues and literary techniques analyzed through close textual focus, to broader conceptual problems or comparative analyses. Students primarily interested in culture and civilization have written on art, political or economic issues, education, and on a variety of social questions. Joint supervision between a FIT professor and a professor from another Department may be arranged for students following track 2 (Concentration in Two Languages, Literatures and Cultures), track 3 (Concentration in Literature and Any Other Related Field), and track 4 (Concentration in Literature and the Creative Arts). The Senior Thesis is a major commitment of a student’s time and energy, and the most important determining factor in your choice of a topic should be your willingness to spend many hours immersed in that particular set of texts or problems. This journey through scholarship and writing will lead you toward your professional future, demonstrating your knowledge of a field and your own vision of it. The Senior Thesis provides not only the opportunity to write on a topic of personal importance to you; it can also serve a pragmatic function, for example, as a writing sample for graduate school applications. In each case, at the end of the process, you should be proud to put your name on the project to which you dedicated so much time, thought, and care.
2. Portrait of the Discipline
The discipline of French and Italian encompasses a wide range of fields. Depending on the area of concentration, Independent Work will require different methodological approaches and will engage in discussions unique to the subfield of interest.
2.1.Areas of Concentration
Through the diversity of courses taught in the Department, which each place a varying emphasis on language, literary history and interpretation, aesthetics and literary theory, or cultural and intellectual history, students are able to pursue courses of study consistent with their individual interests. To complement this individualized approach to students’ plans of study, the Department offers four distinct tracks within the concentration in French and/or Italian:
- Concentration in One Language, Literature, and Culture. Students concentrate in French or Italian. Eight upper-division courses are counted towards concentration. At least five of these must be in the language and subject of concentration. Up to two of the five departmental courses may be taken at the 200-level (but FRE 207 and 208, or ITA 207 and 208, cannot both be counted). Up to three of the eight may be cognate courses approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) and drawn from other sections of the Department or from other humanities and social science subjects.
- Concentration in Two Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Students intending to combine work in French or Italian with another language, civilization, and culture normally take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in French or Italian (one of which may be a cognate), three in the other relevant language. Up to two of the five departmental courses may be taken at the 200-level (but FRE 207 and 208, or ITA 207 and 208, cannot both be counted). The first language of concentration must be either French or Italian.
- Concentration in Literature and Any Other Related Field. Students intending to combine work in French or Italian and another related field normally take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in the relevant language and literature (one of which may be a cognate), and three in the other field. For example, students specializing in French or Italian and History, Politics, or Art and Archaeology, might take appropriate 300-level or higher courses in those Departments. Students should consult with their Director of Undergraduate Studies before course enrollment. Up to two of the five departmental courses may be taken at the 200-level (but FRE 207 and 208, or ITA 207 and 208, cannot both be counted).
- Concentration in Literature and the Creative Arts. This track is designed for students wishing to combine work in French or Italian and a creative art, such as theater, music, dance, painting, film, translation, and creative writing. Upon approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the student would normally take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in the relevant language and literature and three in the field related to the art of interest. Up to two of the five departmental courses may be taken at the 200-level (but FRE 207 and 208, or ITA 207 and 208, cannot both be counted). In some cases, an original work of creation (paintings, prose, or poetry…), or of performance (theatre…), may substitute for the Senior Thesis, but not for one of the two Junior Papers. If students decide to substitute a creative work for the senior thesis, they will also be required to submit a substantial critical work of at least 6,000, but no more than 10,000 words (25-35 pages), in which they will position and discuss their creative work in relation to the historical and cultural context of the language in question. The creative portion of the thesis must also have an obvious French, Francophone, or Italian cultural component, approved in advance by your advisor.
- Any upper-level course taught in English will require all written work to be completed in French or Italian in order to count toward the concentration.
- In order to count toward the concentration, all courses must be taken for a letter grade (i.e., not PDF or Audit). Exceptions to this policy are: 1) courses taken during Spring 2020. 2) creative arts courses for students in Track 4.
Important Note to other Departments and Programs Regarding Cross-Listing
Courses taught in other departments may be considered for cross-listing with FIT (FRE or ITA) if they meet the following minimal requirements:
- Concentrators and certificate students from the Department of French and Italian must read French or Italian works (depending on the course listing: FRE or ITA) in the original language when texts are readily available.
- French and Italian concentrators and certificate students must complete all written work in French or Italian (again, depending on the listing, FRE or ITA).
- FIT classes are generally conducted in French or Italian. It is highly desirable that students should have an occasion to speak and hear the foreign language in cross-listed courses, so every effort should be made, within practical limits, to create this opportunity, for instance by organizing a FRE or ITA precept whenever enrollments permit.
- A significant portion of the reading assignments must be in French or Italian for the course to qualify for cross-listing.
- The following language should appear on both the course worksheet (which is posted on the Registrar’s Course Offerings website) and on the syllabus: “Concentrators and certificate students from the Department of French and Italian must read French or Italian texts in the original language when available. They are also expected to complete all formal written work in French or Italian.”
2.2.Literature and the Humanities
- The field of literary studies has evolved over centuries, altered by the arrival of new media forms or access to external influences, or the political and contingencies that arise in any era, sometimes suddenly and sometimes incrementally. Examples of relatively new fields that have changed the way we read literary texts include gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, environmental or medical humanities, and so on. Burgeoning fields like these bring new light to textual interpretation, but they also may present certain challenges. For instance, one should consider the risk of overestimating the political dimension of a text and underestimating its aesthetics, or one should take into account the hazards of anachronism while using modern approaches to interpret older texts (e.g. Dante’s Feminism, Post-Colonial Rousseau, etc.). The Independent Work provides an opportunity to experience this dynamism firsthand and to face the difficulties that arise when using an interdisciplinary, transhistorical approach.
2.3 Other Fields
- In addition to literature, the Department of French and Italian is committed to generating and fostering interest in major issues pertaining to French and Italian societies, such as immigration, national identity, the European Union, European economy, French and Italian socio-economic models, the evolution of agriculture and gastronomy, etc. As previously mentioned, many of the skills used in analyzing a text will be equally applicable to these other fields. Within the framework of a department specialized in language and culture, you will approach these disciplines from a qualitative standpoint, rather than a quantitative one, although the latter is not to be excluded (and may actually be necessary in some cases, such as sociological or economical studies). For more information about topics and methods that students before you have chosen for their thesis, refer to the archive of Senior Theses maintained by Mudd Library, or by visiting DataSpace at Princeton University for all class years.
3. Process and Timeline
Meeting deadlines is not only an academic necessity (in the interest of both student and Adviser), but also a crucial professional skill. While writing your Independent Work, you will develop the aptitude for managing time and organizing your own deadlines at each phase of the work: choosing a topic, conducting preliminary research, drafting bibliographies and outlines, etc. Summertime may prove to be a very important and useful period for you to advance in your Independent Work. It is a good time to start narrowing down topics and prepare a preliminary bibliography. For Senior Theses, it will be imperative when fall arrives to begin writing as soon as possible. Feedback is most useful when your Adviser has something concrete to work with and knows precisely what kind of guidance you need. For this reason, it is essential to be prepared with a set of specific questions with you meet your Adviser. To help students get started on their thesis and foster their development, the Department offers a Senior Thesis Writers Group, led by an advanced graduate student in the Department under the supervision of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
No part of your thinking process can be outsourced. Every step of the thinking you put into your Independent Work must be entirely your own. You may not make use of ChatGPT or other Artificial Intelligence composition software. The use of Generative Artificial Intelligence will be treated as plagiarism.
3.1 Junior Papers
- Upon entering the Department – and in all cases no later than spring of the sophomore year
- students should discuss their likely area of interest with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to make the assignment of Junior Advisers as accurate as possible. The Adviser will be assigned at the beginning of junior year. Students should get in touch with their Junior Adviser and plan regular meetings. In consultation with their Adviser, students will also choose the language in which they will draft their paper. Responsibility for making and keeping these arrangements falls on the student.
- The first Junior Paper, written in the fall semester, should be about 4,000 words. The second Junior Paper, written in the spring semester, should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Both Junior Papers may be written in English, in which case a three-page summary in French or Italian must be provided. If the paper is written in French or Italian, a three-page (double-spaced) summary in English is required. Failure to submit the summary with the Junior Paper at the time it is submitted will result in a penalty, i.e., a lower grade.
- It is strongly advisable that students following tracks 2 or 3 write one Junior Paper in one of their two subjects of concentration, and one in the other.
- In preparing their papers, students should conform to the principles specified in the University’s instructions for the writing of essays. Under no circumstance should work be plagiarized. You should refer to “Academic Integrity at Princeton” and pay special attention to questions of plagiarism and of acknowledging and citing sources. Failure to comply with those regulations may lead to a low, or lower, grade – even to suspension or expulsion from the University. The use of Generative Artificial Intelligence will be treated as plagiarism.
- The editorial style should consistently follow either the Modern Language Association Handbook or The Chicago Manual of Style.
- Upon entering the Department – and in all cases no later than spring of the sophomore year
3.2 Senior Thesis
- Late in their junior year, students will discuss possible areas of interest with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. As the culmination of their Independent Work, seniors will write a thesis on an approved topic under the guidance of an Adviser and a second reader.
- As with JPs, Students should get in touch with their Senior Adviser and plan regular meetings. In consultation with their Adviser, they will also choose the language in which the thesis will be written. Responsibility for making and keeping these arrangements falls on the student.
- There are obvious advantages to choosing a topic early. Limited resources are available to assist students with the costs of Senior Thesis research, including over the summer.
- The first step in senior Independent Work is to construct a working bibliography of primary and secondary materials. Early attention to the bibliography is of special importance when materials are not available in Firestone Library. In that case, a faculty member (generally one of the thesis Advisers) will need to certify the need for such materials so they can either be acquired by the library or loaned to it.
- Senior theses should not exceed 20,000 words, nor should they fall below 15,000 words. Longer theses are not always better ones. Students should note that it often takes longer to write a good short thesis than a long wordy one. Bibliography, anthology of texts, acknowledgements and any documentary appendices do not count in 15,000 - 20,000 word count. For students following Track 4 (Creative Arts), the written component of the Thesis may be comprised between 6,000 and 10,000 words (25-35 pages).
- If the thesis is written in English, a three-page (double-spaced) summary in French or Italian must be provided. If the thesis is written in French or Italian, a three-page (double-spaced) summary in English is required. Failure to submit the summary with the thesis at the time it is submitted will result in a penalty, i.e., a lower grade.
- All sources must be properly acknowledged. Failure to comply with general University rules on the acknowledgement of sources may lead to very serious penalties. Under no circumstances is plagiarism allowed. The use of Generative Artificial Intelligence will be treated as plagiarism.
- Students should discuss their interests and possible topics with the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the earliest opportunity, so as to permit the appointment of an Adviser and a second reader. Students must meet their Advisers no later than September 29, 2023, of their senior year — but earlier is better. A thesis outline and progress report, initialed by the Adviser, must be submitted to the Undergraduate Administrator and Director of Undergraduate Studies by October 27, 2023.
- Two copies of the thesis (one softbound and one electronic), signed at the end of the final chapter, must be submitted by the due date. Failure to submit both copies by the due date may lead to a low, or lower, grade.
- The first copy, softbound, will be returned to you on Class Day; the second one, a PDF electronic version, should also be sent to the Department Undergraduate Administrator. An electronic copy is also required to be uploaded into Thesis Central by the student.
3.3 Calendar for Departmental Independent Work
- All Independent Work must be submitted to the Department Office, East Pyne 303, no later than 4:00 PM on the specified date.
- Exceptions and extensions for Independent Work cannot be granted by an Adviser; they must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in consultation with a student's residential college Dean. All requests for extensions for medical reasons must include a letter from a doctor or Dean. Requests for extensions recommended in consultation with both Advisers must include a letter from the first Adviser.
- If an extension is not approved in advance of the departmental deadline, then a late penalty of 1/4 of a letter grade for every 24 hours that a paper is late will be applied, beginning at 4:00 p.m. on the due date.
- You should refer to “Academic Integrity at Princeton” and pay special attention to questions of acknowledging and citing sources and plagiarism. The use of Generative Artificial Intelligence will be treated as plagiarism. Failure to comply with those regulations may lead to a low, or lower, grade – even to suspension or expulsion from the University.
*Please see the Sample Calendar below.
|Sep. 8 – Sep. 29, 2023
|If you have not yet done so, please make an appointment to see your Advisers in order to discuss your Senior Thesis plans and schedule of future meetings.
|Please make an appointment to see your Adviser in order to discuss your Junior Paper plans and your schedule of future meetings.
|Friday, Oct. 27
|Submission of the Thesis Outline and Progress Report, initialed by the 1st Adviser. This should contain a description of your thesis, a summary of research to date, and a preliminary reading list.
|Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024
|Submission of first Junior Paper by 4:00 p.m.
|Wednesday, Jan. 31
|The first chapter (first draft) of the thesis, initialed by both Advisers, should be submitted to the Undergraduate Administrator and Director of Undergraduate Studies.
|Make an appointment to see the spring JP Adviser.
|Wednesday, Feb. 28
|The second chapter of the thesis, initialed by both Advisers, should be submitted to the Undergraduate Administrator and Director of Undergraduate Studies.
|Monday, April 1
|The full draft deadline for the thesis, initialed by both Advisers, should be submitted to the Undergraduate Administrator and Director of Undergraduate Studies.
|Juniors meet the DUS to select Fall Term courses and discuss the Senior Thesis topic and assignment of Advisers.
|Monday, April 22
|Two copies of Thesis, one softbound and one electronic, due at the Department Office, 303 East Pyne, by 4:00 p.m. (an electronic copy must also be uploaded to Thesis Central by the student); the title page must follow the departmental format, and the thesis must also be signed on the last page. One softbound copy to be paid for by the department when purchased online from Pequod Printing.
|Tuesday, April 30
|Submission of second Junior Paper by 4:00 p.m.
|Wednesday, May 8
|Senior Comps: Written Exam
|Thursday, May 9
|Senior Comps: Oral Exam
For all Independent Work, the relationship with the Adviser is crucial. Students should get in touch with their Junior or Senior Adviser and plan regular meetings. Responsibility for making and keeping these arrangements falls on the student.
Besides building an intellectual relationship of trust with your Adviser, it is fundamental to establish a process through which you can receive as much feedback as possible. For this, you will need to establish a consistent dynamic of giving written material to your Adviser in timely fashion. The more you give, the more you receive.
Your Adviser is a professional and is there to assist you. In the end, however, it is your work, and you are responsible for it.
4.2 Grading Independent Work
A paper in the A range demonstrates a high degree of mastery over the fundamentals of academic writing; it advances a relevant, arguable thesis; establishes a clear motive to suggest why the thesis is original or worthwhile; employs a logical and progressive structure; analyzes evidence insightfully and in depth; draws from well-chosen sources; achieves an excellent balance between synthesis of existing arguments and original analysis; and is written in a clear, sophisticated style.
- A paper in the A range demonstrates a high degree of mastery over the fundamentals of academic writing; it advances a relevant, arguable thesis; establishes a clear motive to suggest why the thesis is original or worthwhile; employs a logical and progressive structure; analyzes evidence insightfully and in depth; draws from well-chosen sources; achieves an excellent balance between synthesis of existing arguments and original analysis; and is written in a clear, sophisticated style.
- A B-range paper resembles an A-range paper in some ways, but exhibits a vague, uninteresting, or inconsistently argued thesis; establishes a functional but unsubstantial motive for its existence; employs a generally logical but somewhat disorganized or undeveloped structure; includes well-chosen but sometimes unanalyzed and undigested evidence; uses sources in a correct but limited fashion; suffers from an imbalance between analysis and personal commentary; shows occasional use of paraphrasing; or is written in an unsophisticated or grammatically problematic style.
- A C-range paper resembles a B-range paper in some ways, but also features a confusing, simple, or descriptive thesis; provides only a simplistic motive or none at all; lacks a coherent structure; fails to present sufficient evidence, or presents evidence that is insufficiently analyzed; drops in sources without properly contextualizing or citing them; and is written in a generally unclear, simplistic, or technically flawed style.
- A D paper (there is no D+ or D- at Princeton) resembles a C-range paper but includes a purely descriptive or obvious thesis; lacks a motive; displays an unfocused, confusing, or rambling structure; and draws on little analyzed evidence and sources. A D paper has trouble engaging with the assignment and may not show awareness of the conventions of academic discourse and style. It does, however, show signs of attempting to engage with the issues, topics, and sources of the assignment.
- An F paper is similar to a D paper but is significantly shorter than the assigned length and addresses the assignment superficially or not at all.
A Note About Grading the Senior Thesis
- Criteria for grading a Senior Thesis are essentially similar to those used for Junior Papers, but obviously on a much larger scale. The questions of structure are especially magnified (e.g. divisions in chapters, balance from chapter to chapter, etc.).
- Senior theses are graded independently by two readers: the principal Adviser, and the Second Reader. If a student feels he or she has been unfairly graded, he or she may ask the Director of Undergraduate Studies to appoint a third reader. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will decide whether to appoint such a reader. The third reader’s grade is final. In the event that the two Advisers cannot agree on a grade, they should request a third reader, appointed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The third reader's decision is final.
- The minimum grade required for the senior thesis is "C-".
5. Oral Presentation and Comprehensive Examinations
5.1 The Senior Departmental Examinations
The Examination (known as “Comps”, or Comprehensive Examination), taken in May, is designed to test aspects of the student's entire program of study in the Department. A list of required and recommended readings is provided for each of the languages and literatures taught in the Department; it is meant to guide students in preparing for the examination. The format of the examination is as follows:
- Part I. Written Component (3 hours in class)
- In order to better prepare for this portion of the “Comps,” students are strongly encouraged to include either FRE 307 or ITA 307 in their departmental coursework. For French concentrators in the classes of 2021 and beyond, the French Junior Seminar
(FRE 398) is mandatory.
- Sight Translation: This exercise will consist of the translation of a short prose text from French or Italian into English. The resulting translation should reflect the linguistic command and stylistic sophistication expected from a reasonably proficient speaker of French or Italian.
- Essay: Written in the language of specialization. Students will choose one topic out of three culture/literature questions. Topics will be based on the Reading Lists and the course offerings.
- Unless a student has an official accommodation, computers are not allowed. This is a closed-books examination, but a bilingual dictionary, without a grammar section, is permitted along with physical copies of primary text resources.
- In order to better prepare for this portion of the “Comps,” students are strongly encouraged to include either FRE 307 or ITA 307 in their departmental coursework. For French concentrators in the classes of 2021 and beyond, the French Junior Seminar
- Part II. Oral Presentation (30 minutes)
- A brief (10-15 minutes) oral presentation in the language of concentration (French or Italian), followed by a discussion. The content of the presentation will be determined and prepared by the student in coordination with their Adviser and may reflect any aspect of the student’s own general intellectual and academic experience in the Department. It may therefore stem from the Senior Thesis but also largely refer to the overall course of study achieved in the subject of concentration. The presentation should NOT be an explication de texte or close reading. The examining committee will be constituted by at least two permanent faculty of each section.
5.2 The French Junior Seminar
For concentrators in French in the classes of 2021 and beyond, the Junior Seminar (FRE 398) is mandatory. The course initiates students to scholarship relative to various fields and teaches a variety of theories and methodologies reflective of the diversity of French studies. It teaches literary approach based on poetics, semiotics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, history, and so forth. Furthermore, it introduces a theoretical agenda that reflects the evolution of French Studies over the last decades: gender studies, postcolonialism, media studies, literature and science, literature and law, digital humanities, animal studies, performance theory, etc.
In addition, the seminar includes a number of workshops and assignments that provide direct, practical introduction to, and practice of, fundamental elements used in the composition of an Independent Work (e.g. choice of a topic, argumentation, etc.), as well as major skills such as translation.
The Junior Seminar is usually taught in the Fall semester. If a student is abroad and cannot take it, s/he can take it in their senior year.
A Note About Grading the Comps
Comprehensive examinations are graded by two faculty members. In case of significant disparity, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will appoint a third reader, whose judgment will be final.
Regarding grading, both form and content will be taken into account. On the side of form, grammatical accuracy, syntactic fluidity, and idiomatic quality of the writing are graded, although this portion of the grade is not the most significant. On the side of content, graders will take into consideration each student’s ability to address with clarity the questions posed in the exam, to develop a coherent argument about them, to master pertinent primary sources related to the issues at hand, and to express their personal views about them.
5.3 Reading Lists for “Concentration in French and/or Italian”
Students who have taken courses across a broad range of historical periods can expect to have read and studied many of the books on the Reading List by their senior year. They are responsible for reading all the books on the relevant list in preparation for the Senior Departmental Examination.
- Marie de France: Lais; Montaigne, Essais (selections: Book I, chapter 26; Book I, chapter 28; Book III, chapter 2); Molière, Le Tartuffe; Racine, Phèdre; Voltaire, Candide; Balzac, Le Père Goriot; Edmond de Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac; Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Flaubert, Trois contes; Proust, Du Côté de chez Swann (First Part: Combray); Beckett, En attendant Godot; Djebar, L’amour, la fantasia; Selections of poetry will be provided to students.
- Dante, Inferno, ed. Sapegno, Bosco-Reggio; Petrarca, Il canzoniere, (Selections1) ed. Arducci, Contini; Boccaccio, Il decamerone, (Selections2) ed. Branca; Machiavelli, Il principe; Ariosto, L’Orlando furioso (canti I, VII, XXIII: 100-136, XXIV: 1-14, XXXIV, XLI, XLII); Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata (canti I, II, XII, XV: 53- 66, XVI); Foscolo, Le ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis and Poetry Selections; Leopardi, I canti, ed. Whitfield, Gallo & Garboli; Manzoni, I promessi sposi, ed. Nardi Getto. Verga, I Malavoglia; Svevo, La coscienza di Zeno; Pirandello, Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore; Montale, Ossi di seppia; Calvino, I sentieri dei nidi di ragno; Morante, L’isola di Arturo; P. Levi, Se questo è un uomo.
1 Students will not be expected to read these texts in full, but they should be conversant with the texts based on their classwork experience in the courses they have taken (eg. ITA 220, etc.).
The Office of the Dean of the College, via the Office of Undergraduate Research, as well as the Department have funds available to help students with costs of research in connection with Independent Work. Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies as early as possible if you foresee needs of this sort for your own project. Early planning is essential to make the best use of such resources.
Thanks to the generosity of Alfred Foulet and others, the Department of French and Italian is proud to be able to support financially deserving projects by concentrators who wish to conduct research on their Junior Papers and Senior Theses.
The Schwartz Fund, also administered in the Department, sponsors the travel to Italy of students wishing to refine their language skills or to develop independent research projects.
Concentrators interested in obtaining financial support should submit to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, using the S.A.F.E. portal, a formal proposal that includes a brief rationale for the project, a bibliography, and a detailed budget.
7. Other Assistance
The Department offers a wide range of opportunities for assistance in developing Independent Work. Individual Advisers and the Director of Undergraduate Studies are usually the first resource that students are invited to tap into, but there are other institutional or extra-institutional sources of help.
The Department strongly encourages its concentrators to spend as much time as they can in any country where their language(s) of concentration is (are) widely spoken. There are several ways of doing this within the four-year undergraduate degree: by study abroad for one or two semesters, by summer study abroad, and by obtaining summer work or placement abroad.
7.1 Junior Semester / Junior Year Abroad
Students planning to spend a semester or their whole junior year abroad should seek advice from the Director of Undergraduate Studies and from relevant faculty in choosing a suitable program of study. Further assistance may be obtained from Dean Rebecca Graves-Bayazitoglu in the Office of International Programs, a unit of the Office of the Dean of the College. Departmental and University approval is required.
Grades awarded by foreign institutions for courses that are recognized in lieu of Princeton courses are not included in the computation of Departmental Honors (see Part 1, E above).
Students studying abroad for one or two semesters are not exempted from Independent Work requirements. The responsibility for consulting with Advisers for meeting all normal deadlines lies with the student.
An approved one-semester course of study abroad normally counts for two departmental credits. Only two study abroad courses can count as departmentals, and the grades do not factor into Honors. Students must complete the program abroad to the standard required by the foreign institution.
7.2 Summer Language Study
The Department offers one “Princeton Summer Study Abroad” program in French, in Aix-en-Provence, in partnership with the IS-Institute. This intensive four-week immersion program is offered at the 207 level.
The Department also offers one “Princeton Summer Study Abroad” program in Italian, in Pisa, in partnership with the Scuola Normale Superiore. This intensive four-week immersion program is offered at the 207 level.
In addition to this program, students can select a summer course to help them advance in their studies. The Office of International Programs (OIP) has information about institutions offering summer courses. Please contact OIP if you are interested in any of these summer programs.
Please note that all summer courses (unless they are offered by Princeton) must be preapproved for Princeton credit by the appropriate Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of International Programs.
7.3 Summer Work Abroad: The “Princeton-in-France” Program
Princeton in France (PIF) is a unique internship opportunity open to students enrolled in Aix-en-Provence FRE 207F. Administered through the International Internship Program (IIP) in partnership with the Department of French and Italian, PIF internships are 4 weeks, and their goal is to introduce students to French culture and prioritize the cultural immersion experience. These internships are offered in collaboration with the Institute for American Universities.
Students enrolled in 207F will automatically have the option to apply for a Princeton in France internship in Aix-en-Provence, which would immediately follow the 207F program. However, participation in the additional 4-week internship program is not a requirement for FRE 207F, nor is an internship guaranteed.
Students interested in Princeton in France will first need to apply to FRE 207F, where they can indicate their intention to pursue a PIF internship. There is no separate application for the Princeton in France internship. Once accepted to the language immersion program, students interested in PIF will meet with IIP advisers to discuss their top internship choices and write an intention letter/cover letter for their preferred internship. IIP will attempt to place students in the most appropriate internship available and attempt to honor their preferences.
Information about other placements and internships abroad may also be obtained from the Director of International Internships, in the Office of International Programs, a unit of the Office of the Dean of the College.
7.4 Postgraduate Resources
Students interested in postgraduate study in French or Italian are urged to consult with their Adviser, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and with other Departmental Faculty before applying to graduate programs. Faculty members are usually happy to write letters of reference provided they are given adequate notice.