Professional Development

Professional Development

Professionalization Workshops

In alternate years, the Graduate Student Organization coordinates workshops, with the participation of department faculty members, to prepare students for the academic job search and professional life beyond the PhD.

Student-Faculty Research Collaborations

Our Student-Faculty Forum meets several times per semester on Friday afternoons. At the forum, individual students and faculty members present their current research for discussion in an informal setting. The Department also funds faculty/student collaborative research projects through which students gain hands-on experience in research ranging from historical linguistics to the exploration of a certain theme in contemporary cinema or poetry.

French/Francophone Studies

Our French/Francophone Studies program has groupes de recherches comprised of faculty and graduate students which meet several times a semester to explore areas of mutual interest. In the Période Moderne group, for example, students have chosen the topic "Politics and Literature" and are studying a series of texts on "engagement" by Jean-Paul Sartre as part of their preparation for the development of individual papers.

Moyen Age/Renaissance (faculty leader: Jacques Merceron)
Ancien Régime (faculty leader: TBA)
Période Moderne (faculty leader: Oana Panaïté)

In the Période Moderne group, for example, students have chosen the topic "Politics and Literature" and are studying a series of texts on "engagement" by Jean-Paul Sartre as part of their preparation for the development of individual papers.

French Linguistics

In the French Linguistics program, the Second Language Acquisition group is particularly active, led by Professor Laurent Dekydtspotter.

The Second Language Acquisition of French Laboratory supports the production of dissertation research, class projects and group research mentoring. Joint-authored papers have been published in open access venues and in archival journals: Dekydtspotter, L. & C. Renaud. (2009) Second Language Research, 25, 251–263 (on past participle agreement); Dekydtspotter, L, B. Donaldson, A. C. Edmonds, A. Liljestrand Fultz & R A. Petrush (2008) Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 453–480 (on syntax and prosody in the interpretation of relative clauses); and Dekydtspotter, L. & J. Hathorn (2005) Second Language Research, 21, 291-323 (on syntax-semantics and pragmatics). Current group work (Black, Frimu, & Panwitz) investigates the significance of syntactic structures in real time sentence comprehension. The work focuses on the consequences of simple word choices for the processing system. Using structures such as Quelle décision (lei concernant, décision à propos de luii, décision à soni sujet/égard) est-ce que Pauli a dit pendant une semaine que Lydie avait prise sans hésitation, we bring to light deep processing differences induced by such word choices in native French and second language French. This can inform us about the role of the syntactic system in supporting second language performance. Preliminary results will be presented at Second Language Research Forum (2013) and The Boston University Conference on Language Development (2013). Another project in preparation (Bahler, Black, Frimu, Panwitz, & Root) focuses on the sensitivity to the subjunctive semantics in intermediate learners of French. Past topics include the deployment of different sources of information in the comprehension of relative clauses (article) and learners’ representations of the ne… que structure expressing the meaning of only (article one and two). The Second Language Acquisition of French Laboratory supports various research studies including moving window silent reading experiments, cross-modal priming experiments, forced-paced reading aloud with picture classification, word monitory as well as eye-movement research with a portable Eyetech V2 mini Lab that allow off-site research and class-room demonstrations. The Second Language Acquisition of French Laboratory offers a dynamic environment to engage in second language acquisition research on French.

In French Linguistics, additional student-faculty research opportunities include grant-supported projects such as Julie Auger's Picard project and Albert Valdman & Kevin Rottet's Louisiana French Dictionary Project. The Picard group is currently investigating the following topics: Comparision of vowel epenthesis in Québec French, Acadian French, and Picard; Surcomposé verb forms in Picard; Gemination; Prosodic Structure; Nasal Assimilation. Some recent student publications are: Brian José & Julie Auger (2005), "Geminates and Picard pronominal clitic allomorphy", Catalan Journal of Linguistics 4:127-154 and Brian José and Julie Auger (2004), "(Final) Nasalization as an Alternative to (Final) Devoicing: the Case of Vimeu Picard", Indiana Working Papers Online, Vol. 4 ( The Louisiana French group (in collaboration with researchers at other universities) has recently released a CD-Rom "Discovering Cajun French through the spoken word" and its Dictionary of Louisiana French was published in 2008.

Conferences and Lectures

Symposia and conferences provide graduate students opportunities to attend or give lectures, and to discover new insights in the contemporary research. Recent events organized by the Department of French and Italian include the sociolinguistics conference New Ways of Analyzing Variation (2012), the first North American Symposium on Teofilo Folengo (2009), and the 32nd Annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium "Discoveries, Inventions and Rediscoveries" (2006) Each spring, we host the symposium “New Trends in Modern and Contemporary Italian Cinema,” and every two years, the Department also hosts a Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Colloquium.

The Department pursues an active program of lectures by distinguished visitors from other centers of learning. The hallmark of these offerings, ranging in scope from Tristan and Yseut to the latest writers and theorists, is variety and innovation. Typical are the lectures of Sylvia Huot of Cambridge, who spoke on the Roman de la Rose and the myth of Orpheus; the film director Vito Zagarrio, who discussed Italian neo-neorealism; and leading Italian actor Marco Baliani, who presented his Corpo di stato: Il delitto Morro. The Department is especially proud of the Gertrude Force Weathers Lecture Series whose recent participants include distinguished linguist Julia Herschensohn (University of Washington); Alec Hargreaves of Florida State, a specialist in post-colonial minorities in France; and Eric Méchoulan (University of Montréal), a specialist in 17th century French literature and philosophy.

For more information on more recent conferences and lectures, please check our News and Activities page.

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