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Doctor of Philosophy in French and Italian

The Department of French and Italian provides students with the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. in French and Italian studies. This unique program encourages students to construct a highly individualized course of study within an interdisciplinary framework, in order to foster a thorough and creative knowledge of both traditions and their intersections. Students are expected to specialize in one of three periods, (a) medieval and renaissance, (b) renaissance and early modern, or (c) modern and contemporary. Students in the Ph.D. program are normally admitted either as French Fellows or as Italian Fellows on a four- to five-year fellowship plan that integrates their financial support with rigorous training as scholars and as prospective university faculty.

Students admitted to the program work closely with the Chair of Graduate Studies in structuring a plan consistent with their needs and interests. Where general requirements call for the participation of a Chair of Graduate Studies, candidates for the Ph.D. in French and Italian should understand that the participation of the chairs of both French and Italian, if they are different, is required.

Aside from the benefits of the program's flexible structure, a number of unique resources are available to students. The French Section's exchange program with the Ecole Normale Supťrieure provides candidates (selected on a competitive basis) with the opportunity to pursue dissertation research in Paris. Students may also be permitted to take courses, pursue dissertation research, and do independent work at the Stanford campus in Florence under supervision of a member of the Italian faculty.


Students must complete the requirements outlined in the "General Requirements for the Ph.D. in French or Italian" section of this bulletin, as well as the requirements outlined following.


Attaining a native or near-native fluency in both French and Italian is the individual responsibility of all candidates in the Ph.D. program, and remedial course work needed to achieve such fluency cannot count towards the Ph.D. degree.

For students specializing in areas (a) medieval and renaissance and (b) renaissance and early modern, proficiency in Latin equivalent to a second year collegiate level of proficiency (the equivalent of CLASSLAT 101, 102, and 103) in reading is also required. Such proficiency may be demonstrated by successfully completing a course in the language in question (at least second-year level, but preferably a graduate seminar); or by passing an exam that establishes a second-year or above level of competence. In no case is passage of a standard reading competence exam considered sufficient.

For students specializing in area (c) modern and contemporary, proficiency in a third language (beyond French and Italian) is not required; students are, however, encouraged to acquire competency in a third language or area that is relevant to their research (e.g. German, Film Studies).

The language requirements should be completed as soon as possible, but in any case not later than the end of the third year for students who entered the program without a master's degree, and not later than the end of the second year for students who entered the program with an external master's degree. Completion of the language requirements is a prerequisite for taking the University Oral Examination.

Distribution of Elective Courses—Students must take a minimum of four advanced courses on French literature and culture, and four advanced courses on Italian literature and culture.

Qualifying Examination—Students may take either two qualifying exams, one in French and one in Italian, or a single qualifying exam in French and Italian. The combined French and Italian qualifying exam covers one of three periods, (a) medieval and renaissance, (b) renaissance and early modern, or (c) modern and contemporary. For each period it is based on a standard reading list. The list may be expanded to reflect a student's particular interests, but not abridged. One third of the combined exam takes place in English, one third in French, and one third in Italian (with the student free to choose which portion transpires in which language).

An M.A. in French and Italian is awarded in the eventuality that a student completes the qualifying examination but whose work is judged insufficient for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. This M.A. option is open only to students approved for the French and Italian Ph.D., and is not available to coterminal students, to M.A.-only students, or to Ph.D. students in French only or Italian only.

If, at the qualifying exam stage, a student's work is judged insufficient for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D., the student may petition to continue in French only or Italian only. This petition is reviewed by the qualifying exam committee, the relevant Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Director of the Department of French and Italian.

Special Topic Examination—The chosen topic must focus equally on French and Italian literature and culture, and actively explore their relationship. Two weeks before the exam, the student must also submit not one but two graduate seminar papers, one in French on a French topic and one in Italian on an Italian topic.

University Oral Examination—The reading list should include works in both French and Italian in all genres relevant to the period covered.

Dissertation—The dissertation topic must include a substantial quotient of material from both the French and the Italian tradition, and the dissertation must include, either (1) at least one chapter on French materials and one chapter on Italian materials, or (2) at least two chapters focusing on a comparison between French and Italian materials.

Teaching—Out of the five courses the student is required to teach, at least one must be a French language course and at least one an Italian language course.

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