The Johns Hopkins PhD program in French has a long and distinguished history, having played a leading role in embracing and disseminating critical approaches and methodological innovations. The program focuses on research, argumentation, and writing, and is therefore especially attractive to independent-minded students.
The first two years of study are devoted to intensive seminar work and culminate in a portfolio of twelve or more research papers. Rather than on comprehensive exams, admission to the PhD is based on this portfolio and on the preparation and defense of the dissertation prospectus (ABD). This model enables students to fully investigate questions of disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity within French studies and to develop the tools of criticism appropriate to their project. These range from literary history, poetics, and discourse analysis to cultural and political theory and genetic criticism. Interested students may also subscribe to a Graduate Certificate in Film and Media, in conjunction with the department’s Media Literacy subsection and the Center for Advanced Media Studies.
Following the ABD defense, students are funded to pursue dissertation research abroad through our graduate student exchange with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, or through doctoral internships with francophone universities. Other research opportunities, such as residences for students of early modern studies at Oxford University and the University of Warwick, are available, and students may receive funding to attend institutes, residential seminars, and other programs for scholarly enrichment, language study, and archival research.
As they supervise doctoral research, faculty mentors familiarize their advisees with the norms of the profession and train them to shape their findings for presentation in an international frame. Every other fall, students independently conceive and organize the French Graduate Conference. Themes of recent conferences include “Effects and Affects of the ‘In-Between’” (2017), “Authority and Authorship” (2015), “Entre amis et ennemis” (2013), “Normes et formes” (2011), and “Littérature et animalité” (2010).
Graduate students in French engage in undergraduate classroom teaching at all levels, working through a core language sequence under the guidance of French Language Program faculty. This teaching apprenticeship includes training in innovative pedagogical techniques. Advanced students are eligible to propose upper-level courses on a topic of their choosing, through the competitive Dean’s Teaching Fellowship (DTF). Program graduates are thus uniquely equipped to fill a variety of teaching duties in an academic environment where the focus lies firmly on the interdependence of language, literature, and culture.
The success of the Hopkins model, which stresses faculty mentoring at all levels—research, preparedness for the profession, and teaching— is reflected in the high number of fellowships, awards, and post-doctoral or faculty positions won by our graduates. Since 2000, tenure-track and tenured positions in French have been awarded to our graduates at the University of Basel; the University of California, Davis; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Colorado, Boulder; Dickinson College; Duquesne University; Emory University; Harvard University; Indiana University, Bloomington; Princeton University; Reed College; Southern Indiana University; SUNY; and Swarthmore College.