I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about some of the special qualities of our program and our larger community!
Most important, I think, especially for a graduate student, is the collegiality that reigns among the faculty in the program and that is generated, in turn, among our graduate students. This spirit makes our intellectual life together a particularly satisfying one, both for faculty and for our students. We look forward to getting to know you in courses, and also, to sharing our intellectual passions and areas of expertise, which we hope to extend to you as a resource as you make your way through to the dissertation. Along that way, we'll invite you to workshops and parties, and to formal and informal get-togethers that we hope will make your studies in French and its interdisciplines a rich personal experience as well as an intellectually challenging one. We will encourage your participation in intellectual, cultural, and gastronomic pursuits outside the seminar room as well.
For several years running, we have organized, often in collaboration with the Center for European Studies (whose orientation is primarily toward political and social questions), interdisciplinary conferences, including a colloquium called "Global French"; a conference on "Sartre and his Others"; a conference on “Vision in 17th Century France” a conference on Montaigne titled "The 1770s: Dating Cultures”; a conference on the occasion of the centenary of writer and intellectuel engagé André Malraux; a conference on "France in Europe, Europe in France: Culture, Politics, Society, and European Integration"; and a conference on "Legacies of J'Accuse: The Public Intellectual in France, 1898-1998 and Beyond". We sponsor a Seminar, France and the World” and another on “Renaissance Studies” at Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center. The Seminars, open to colleagues and students all over the Boston area, invite distinguished lecturers to present their work, meeting monthly in an informal setting.
Other wonderful resources to the program are Harvard's Widener Library and its incredibly learned and helpful research staff. Whatever books or journals the library doesn't have, it will get for you on interlibrary loan. I hope also that you will have the occasion to become acquainted with the Houghton Library, Harvard's rare book library, which is a mine of treasures.
I want also to mention Cambridge, that truly cosmopolitan city on the banks of the Charles, where you can buy a newspaper from Paris or from Peoria at the newsstand facing the Harvard Coop, have a cappuccino or a beer at one of numerous cafes and bars around the Square, and generally, experience a veritable carnival of books, food, films, and theater, following your particular passions. Greater Cambridge offers the Boston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts, window-shopping on Newbury Street, the beaches of the North and South Shore and Cape Cod, feasting on lobster and antiquing in Essex or Ipswich, and the ski slopes of Vermont and New Hampshire. You will add to this list many, many personal discoveries, if you join us and study here.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions!
Head of the French Section
To see our program requirements, see the GSAS handbook.