Tag: Modern and Contemporary France

Publications, progress reviews and teaching: a year in the life of a PhD student

This semester seems to be flying past and it doesn’t entirely seem possible that we should already be a week or so away from our mid-semester break. Our Year 1 students have just received feedback on the essays they wrote as part of our package of Bridging Materials, assessment deadlines are starting to fall for this semester’s modules, the schedule of films for Stirling’s section of the French Film Festival has made its way into the MacRobert programme… Against that busy backdrop, it’s good to get a chance to reflect on what a year in the life of French at Stirling can look like, from the perspective of one of our PhD students, Fraser McQueen who has very kindly made time to send us this blog post:

“I came back to Stirling to start my Ph.D in French Studies in October 2016, having originally graduated with a degree in French and History in 2014 before going to St Andrews to do an MLitt in French Studies and then spending a year teaching English as a lecteur at the Université de Toulon. I came back to Stirling mostly because I thought that it was the best place in Scotland for my project, given the department’s strategic focus on colonial and postcolonial studies, but also because I’d enjoyed my time here before. If it seems like a year is a long time to leave it before writing a blog post, I’m the only one to blame: I’ve been promising to do this for several months now!

I’ve just passed the first year review of my Ph.D, which means that I’m officially allowed to progress into the second year: the review process, during which I had to answer questions from three academics on the work I’ve produced so far, was quite stressful but also very helfpul in showing me the areas in which I still have a lot of work to do.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed the first year of my Ph.D. I research representations of Islamophobia and coexistence in contemporary French literature and film: I believe that this is an extremely important subject, and it’s been great to have the chance to research it in depth.

I’ve also enjoyed the other opportunities that come with doing a Ph.D: I’ve presented at three conferences and had four articles published in The Conversation, a news and opinion website via which academics from Ph.D level upwards are able to share their research with a non-specialist audience. This is something that I’ve particularly enjoyed: I think that it’s important to communicate academic research to people outside of academia, particularly with projects like mine, and The Conversation is a great way to do that. Writing for non-specialists has also really helped me to write more clearly: I used to have a bad habit of writing huge sentences filled with jargon, which their professional editors wouldn’t allow. Although I can’t use the exact same style for my academic writing as I would in The Conversation, the experience of needing to be more concise has definitely helped and I’d strongly recommend that other Ph.D students try writing for them.

I also had my first journal article published in Modern and Contemporary France last week, which I’m really pleased with. Getting it through peer review was a very long process – I originally submitted it last November – but I feel that the article is much better for it. I also had a book review published in Modern and Contemporary France earlier in the year, and am now working on another journal article which I hope to submit elsewhere in the next month or so. I’m enjoying all of this, but trying to balance it all out with actually doing my research and writing my thesis can be tricky at times!

Problems balancing my workload and the occasional stress of writing to one side, though, I’ve really enjoyed the first year of my Ph.D. Over the next year I’m hoping to get draft versions of four of my thesis chapters written: it’ll be a challenge, especially given that I’m now also teaching undergraduates, but it’s one that I’m looking forward to.”

Many thanks to Fraser for taking the time to write this and congratulations on the progress review success, as well as on the publications front!

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Learning French at Stirling: ‘Always a positive atmosphere’

We’re on something of a roll with student profiles and I’m really pleased to be able to post another article by one of our current students, Craig Stephen, who has just completed the first year of his degree at Stirling:

2017 Craig Stephen Student Profile Pic June17“Bonjour! My name is Craig and I will be entering the second year of my Sports Studies degree in September. “Sports Studies degree?” I hear you say. “I thought this was a blog about French at Stirling?” Well you’re not in the wrong place. Don’t panic.

 I have always enjoyed studying French. So much so that I had to travel to a different high school to even study Advanced Higher French. Before beginning my time at the University of Stirling, I started a degree in French and International Relations at the University of St Andrews. For a multitude of reasons, however, I realised that it wasn’t for me. So, after two years of studying I took a year out to regroup and figure out where I wanted to redirect myself. Having been involved with playing and coaching basketball, I figured that it would be smart to follow the sport route. And where better to study sport in any way, shape or form than the Scottish University of Sporting Excellence!

Even though I made an almost 180 degree turn from where I started, I still knew that I wanted to continue my French. So being able to choose French as an outside subject from my degree programme was a blessing and a no-brainer. What I worried about most (for no good reason I must add) was that I would struggle jumping back into academic French, in the same way that I struggled jumping into academic French after leaving high school. What helped me the most was that French at Stirling provided us with bridging materials to help us get to grips with what studying French would look like. And it certainly helped me to brush off the cobwebs from the back of my brain where all my French vocabulary was stored.

The department is one of the friendliest I have ever come into contact with. Tutors have a genuine interest in what they are teaching and want to transfer that knowledge to you. The content is engaging and always relevant to understanding how modern France got to where it is today. Everybody is approachable and willing to help you when you ask for it. There is always a positive atmosphere which makes attending class a worthwhile experience, but also an enjoyable one.

My advice? Get involved with French at Stirling. There are a wide range of subjects that offer a joint honours degree with French – I’m waiting for Sports Studies to be added to that list! – as well as the single honours. And even if you don’t plan to take French as part of your degree, I can guarantee once you enter the department they will make you feel so at home and you’ll learn so much that you don’t want to leave.”

Many thanks to Craig for this great article and, of course, we’re sorry that Sports Studies and French can’t currently be combined – something for us to think about for future semesters! In the meantime, we’re delighted Craig is carrying on with French into his second year and wish him all the best.

British Academy-funded workshop coming up at Stirling

French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall is organizing a day-long British Academy-funded workshop on the ‘Uses of Prehistory’ at Stirling on Saturday 3 June. This bilingual workshop will examine the ways in which prehistory, notably the Upper Palaeolithic period including its cave art, has entered debates in modern and contemporary France concerning aesthetics, fiction, politics and philosophy. The event is free, including a sandwich lunch, but registration is essential by Tuesday 30 May. Please contact Bill Marshall: w.j.marshall@stir.ac.uk if you wish to attend. The programme for the day is as follows:

 

10.30 TEA & COFFEE

10.45 Welcome remarks; Bill Marshall (University of Stirling): ‘Prehistory and Transnational French Studies’

11.30 Marc Azéma (Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail) : ‘La Préhistoire du cinéma’

12.15 Jo Malt (King’s College London): ‘La Main négative, limit-case and primal scene of art’

13.00 LUNCH

14.00 Douglas Smith (University College Dublin): ‘The Great Prehistoric Art Scandal: André Breton and Raymond Queneau on Cave Painting’

14.45 Mary Orr (University of St Andrews): ‘Questions of Adaptation: Rethinking Intermedial Uses of Prehistory in Nineteenth-Century France’

15.30 TEA & COFFEE

16.00 Michèle Richman (University of Pennsylvania): ‘Georges Bataille’s Prehistoric Modernism: A Universal History for the 21st century’

16.45 Conversation with Margaret Elphinstone, whose novel The Gathering Night (2009) is set in mesolithic Scotland.

17.30 Workshop ends

Looking forward to an account of the workshop in due course!

2017 Bill Touma First Biped May
Touma, the first biped; Musée national de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies de Tayac

Modern and Contemporary France Special Issue

MCF
Fiona Barclay and Cristina Johnston have just co-edited a mini special issue of the journal Modern and Contemporary France examining the topic of ‘Generations.’ The issue includes an introduction by Cristina and Fiona entitled ‘Qu’est-ce qu’une génération?’, a historical note by Siân Reynolds, and articles by Maggie Allison, Barbara Lebrun and Jim Morrissey covering topics including feminist generations and evolutions of the press, 21st century chanson and the Kourtrajmé collective of film-makers.