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Department of French Language and Literature
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Course Descriptions | Departmental Degree Requirements
Department of French Language and Literature
Requirements for the Master of Arts The departmentís M.A. degree curriculum is composed of eight separate fields defined as follows: seven literary fields (medieval, sixteenth-century, seventeenth-century, eighteenth-century, nineteenth-century, twentieth-century, Francophone); and civilization/cultural studies. Students are required to show competence in each of these fields either through appropriate course work or through the departmentís battery of comprehensive examinations. (1) A minimum of eight courses for 24 credits in the department (courses in other departments allowed beyond the eight); course selection is by consultation with the graduate advisor (Director of Graduate Studies); (2) up to six credits for thesis preparation may be granted beyond the 24 credits; (3) five two-hour written examinations and one one-hour oral examination.
Comprehensive Examination Based upon the M.A. reading lists for each of the eight fields, the comprehensive examination will consist of written examinations of two hours each on five of those fields and an oral exam encompassing a sixth field as well as an explication de texte. The student may choose any six of the eight fields for the comprehensive examination, but the remaining two must be covered by at least one course in those fields. Thus if a student chooses to be examined on medieval through 19th and civilization, then that student must include in his or her choice of electives one twentieth-century literature course, and one Francophone literature course. The choice of which field to take as an oral examination is also up to the student.
A maximum of two of the five written exam fields may be satisfied by appropriate course work: two graduate-level courses in any one field can be used to substitute for the written examination in that field; in addition, the medieval examination can be satisfied by successful completion of FREN 508 (Introduction to Old French) and one additional graduate-level course.
One section of the written exam will be composed, and one-third of the oral exam conducted, in English. No student will pass whose French and English are not deemed by the examining committee to be sufficiently fluent and correct.
Examinations are administered three times per year: fall (mid-September), winter (late January) and spring (mid-April). It is the responsibility of the candidate to notify the Director of Graduate Studies, two weeks in advance, of the intent to sit for a given exam or examinations at a given date. The examinations are normally offered on four consecutive days with two periods given on each day. All parts of the examination must be passed; in case of failure, any part of the comprehensive examination may be retaken only once, normally at the next sitting.
The Director of Graduate Studies oversees all phases of the examination, and each semester appoints a committee of examiners representing the several fields. They will provide questions for the written and texts for commentary at the oral. They will also conduct the oral examination in appropriate subcommittees.
Time Limit The M.A. degree is normally completed in four semesters. The graduate studies committee must be petitioned for any extension. By Graduate School regulations, the absolute time limit for completion of the degree is five years.
Review and Permission to Take Further Course Work At the end of the first year, individual progress is reviewed and a second-year calendar prepared by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the candidate. The director submits to the faculty a report and evidence of insufficient progress, if the need arises.
Immediately after completion of the masterís comprehensives and the thesis, each candidate who wishes to take further course work must petition the director for presentation to the faculty for consideration. Evidence to be considered includes grades, M.A. examination results, and faculty reports. Prior to admission to the Ph.D. program, appointment to a graduate teaching assistantship does not entail, nor should it be construed as implying, such admission. Continuance shall be conditional upon satisfactory progress toward completion of the doctoral program; permission to take further course work does not entail admission to candidacy for the degree of Ph.D., which follows upon successful completion of the Ph.D. preliminary examinations.
Doctor of Philosophy To begin doctoral work, the prospective candidate will normally hold the University of Virginia M.A. degree in French and have permission to take further course work, as outlined above.
A student entering with an M.A. degree (or the equivalent) from another institution shall be considered for permission to take further course work after completing all requirements for the University of Virginia M.A. in French not satisfied by courses taken (or proficiency achieved) elsewhere. A student admitted without deficiency shall be considered for permission to take further course work after one semester (nine credits) of doctoral courses completed in this department.
Advisory Board Not later than the first week of doctoral course work, all prospective candidates will submit to the graduate studies committee a statement of purpose, on the basis of which the committee appoints an advisory board. The presumptive director of the dissertation is a member of the board, from the beginning of the studentís program, if possible, otherwise as soon as the studentís research interests have become clear and consent of the board has been obtained. The graduate studies committee designates as chair of the advisory board a member other than the presumptive dissertation director until the preliminary examinations have been passed. The board confers with the student each term on such matters as long-range goals, choice of major and adjunct fields, selection and timing of courses, deadlines and strategies for the satisfaction of degree requirements, as well as the rate and quality of the studentís progress. In addition, the board is responsible for administering the preliminary examination, and, together with the graduate studies committee, takes part in assessing the candidateís dissertation prospectus.
After each meeting with the candidate, the chair of the advisory board reports to the Director of Graduate Studies. As the need arises, the advisory board may be changed by petition to the graduate studies committee from the student or any faculty member of the advisory board.
At the time of preliminary examinations, the advisory board is replaced by the departmental dissertation committee. A period of at least three months must elapse (1) between changes in the composition of the advisory board and the taking of the preliminary examinations, and (2) between any change in dissertation director and the defense of the dissertation.
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (1) A minimum of eight courses beyond the M.A. (up to three courses may be taken in other departments); course selection by consultation with the advisory board. (Students entering with the M.A. degree from another institution must complete ten courses for the Ph.D., eight of them in this department.) (2) One six-hour written exam on a single (major) field, and one three-hour written exam on a second (adjunct) field (which may be defined ad hoc). (3) dissertation and final oral examination.
Three seminars; Proseminar; language and professional development courses as appropriate; a course in French civilization, Francophone literature, or both, are recommended.
By GSAS rule, total time in the Ph.D. program after the B.A. must be at least three sessions (academic years) and total credits of graduate study (excluding non-topical research, but including independent study) must be at least 54 (eighteen three-hour courses). This means, for example, that if the M.A. degree in this department consists of eight courses, the Ph.D. must consist of ten, and vice-versa
Ph.D. students are normally required to serve as graduate instructors and may therefore expect to take the one-hour practicum, FREN 704 (Theories and Methods of Language Teaching), which is required of all teaching assistants in the first semester of teaching.
Language Requirement To fulfill the general reading knowledge requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the student pursuing the Ph.D. in French may not present that language, but should present another Romance language or German, or any other language approved by the advisory board. Two options are available.
Preliminary Examination After the student has completed course work and language requirements, the advisory board determines readiness for the preliminary examination, successful completion of which will admit the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. The examination consists of a six-hour written exam on the reading list of the major field, a three-three-hour written exam on that of the adjunct field, and a one-to-two hour oral exam. The oral will consist of a thirty minute presentation of an aspect of the dissertation topic, a discussion of the presentation, questions arising from the written examination, and other issues related to the studentís work. Admission to the oral is contingent on the quality of the written. The written are completed on non-consecutive days, normally in the same week; the oral occurs the following week. One-third of the written are composed in English.
No student will pass whose French or English is deemed by the advisory board to be inadequate. All parts of the examination must be passed. In case of unsatisfactory performance, only the part failed must be retaken. Only one reexamination will be permitted on any part.
Dissertation After admission to candidacy, the student will present a prospectus of the dissertation to the advisory board and the graduate studies committee for discussion, approval, and possible amendment by both bodies. The dissertation will then be directed by an appropriate faculty member (the first reader), in consultation with a colleague (the second reader). These professors will be joined by a third reader and a deanís representative for the required final examination, an oral defense.
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